The world is changing at breakneck speed, so are the problems and the needs of people. Undoubtedly, innovations and tailor-made solutions are necessary, but practising a human-centred design (HCD) process is just as important. EAST site’s Chrispin Mwakideu spoke to Kipkorir Kirui, a Technology specialist, HCD expert, and trainer at the Innovators in Residence programme. Kirui defines what HCD is and offers three reasons why it is essential to your media innovation and organization.
In your own words, how would you define human-centred design?
Human-centred design (HCD) is a mindset. It’s a way of seeing the world and how you solve the problems in the world. Traditionally, we have always used a top-down approach to anything. Starting from individuals to large corporations, we typically use a solution to problem mindset where you spend quite a bit of time working on something and then launch it hoping that it would solve a specific problem in the world. We start with a solution and then look for a problem it can solve. We allocate most of the budget to marketing a solution hoping to convince customers that it is a good product or service to purchase. During the development of the product/service, at no point do you go out and interact with the people whose problem you are trying to solve. As a result, we waste a lot of resources that could have done better things because we end up building something that only works for the person creating it.
Human-centred design is a creative approach to problem-solving that starts with people and ends with tailor-made innovative solutions that meet their needs. The term people refers both to end-users/customers and other stakeholders you need to deliver your innovation. It is an effort to get back to where we encourage you to co-create and build with the people facing challenges before developing and launching anything. At the heart of HCD is understanding the problems better, not from your perspective but the user’s perspective. Once you have a better understanding, you can then go ahead and generate ideas that you validate with the same people.
The HCD process comprises three steps namely inspiration, ideation, and implementation.
During the inspiration phase, we are looking to understand better the people we are designing for. We typically do this by conducting both qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research can be in the form of field visits and focus groups. Quantitative analysis can be in the form of surveys. This phase aims to understand the needs (met and unmet), hopes/wants, and constraints of the end-users in relation to the solution you have in mind.
During the ideation phase, you are looking to generate tons of ideas to solve the priority problems from ideation, identify the best ideas/opportunities to design further, test with users, and refine based on feedback. During this phase, you get to employ a hybrid brainstorm approach (silent first, group brainstorming after), create prototypes, and test concepts with users. Once the ideation phase – an idea that users have tested – is complete, you move to the implementation phase.
The implementation phase is what most of us are familiar with, and we typically start here. It is logical to most of us as it is the stage where we make our concept real. In HCD, during the implementation phase, you will work on the road to market plan. This phase involves the traditional activities you conduct when launching a new product or service. Internally, you will need to secure buy-in from stakeholders and get the budget you need.
Here are three reasons why it is crucial to cultivate a human-centred design culture
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