For a long time, I had been seeing advertisements of a new shopping center all over the city, a very large shopping center in the north of Canada. I heard from a family friend that this mall is finally open, not completely of course. He invited us to a restaurant on the ground floor (open space) of this mall to meet after a long time. We also took my grandmother with us. My grandmother walks with a walker and cannot go up and down stairs at all.

We thought that the entrance of the shopping center, if it has stairs, must also have a ramp for those who cannot (for a thousand and one reasons) use the stairs. But we were naïve. If you wanted to reach that restaurant on the ground floor from the parking lot (by elevator), you would have to walk so much that you would be out of breath. As a result, we could not take my grandmother to that restaurant. Of course, another result, which is related to the design and construction of that shopping center, is that the shopping center is not designed for all people (with different physical conditions and problems). Don’t disabled people have the right to use shopping and entertainment centers?

Did you pay attention to the toothbrushes that are designed and made for children? In addition to being more beautiful and attractive than adult toothbrushes, they are softer and designed for children’s hands. But why should they be attractive and designed to fit the hands of children of different ages? Where did the idea that special toothbrushes should be designed for children, even two years old, come from? (In the time of our parents, we didn’t hear about these words and these products!) The answer is: children had problems when they wanted to use regular toothbrushes, which were designed for adults.

First, they could not easily hold it in their hands and move it. After all, children have small and delicate hands.

Second, they had no motivation and excitement to brush their teeth. They did not like brushing their teeth at all. (Many of us adults still don’t like brushing our teeth and some nights when we are very tired, brushing our teeth is hard and tiring!)

What was the solution? Making toothbrushes that did not have those problems, designing a product that fully considers the special needs of children, designing toothbrushes with a child-oriented approach.

When you want to exercise or go for a walk, what must be with you? Apple Watch or iPod and maybe a bottle of water. But you know, if you lived in 1980 or 1990 and you wanted to listen to music while walking, you had to carry a Walkman with you. What a difficult and complicated job! You had to carry such a heavy device with you here and there just to listen to a few songs.

Of course, this was one of the problems. Walkman that you couldn’t easily put in your pocket. If you hit the ground, most likely that heavy device would break and that device would only do one thing for you. While, for example, the smart watch also checks your heart rate during exercise. The shrinking, lightening, and multitasking of the current generation of Walkman’s or the birth of smart watches have all been aimed at solving the specific needs and problems of the people who use them.

Human-centered design is the concept that caused children’s toothbrushes and smart watches to be designed and made. It is the same concept that, if paid attention to in urban architecture, bus and subway stations and shopping centers can be used by all people with different physical conditions.

This article fully introduces Human Centered Design (HCD). It explains its principles and steps and also discusses why human-centered design is important in user experience design. I hope that after reading this article, you will have no more questions or doubts about what human-centered design is.

What is Human Centered Design (HCD) in UX?

Don’t think that human-centered design or human-centered approach to design is a concept specific to user experience design or product design. If you pay attention to the examples in the introduction of this article, you will realize that this concept is relevant in all the areas that a creature called human deals with.

Therefore, in the design of any system or product (urban transportation system, health and treatment service system, banking and administrative services, digital products and goods, etc.) as well as finding solutions for problems and violations in any system or product, human beings, their needs, their views and He considered his emotions and feelings.

Problems should be seen from a human (consumer/user/user) point of view. Involvement of the human factor is not only in the stage of finding problems or finding them, in all other stages (ideas and finding and implementing the best solution), this human factor must be present and involved.

Let’s take a look at’s definition of human-centered design:

Human-centered design is a problem-solving method that requires you to put your consumer’s needs first when tackling an issue. To use human-centered design for your creative process, you must know your consumer deeply, empathize with a real problem they face, and come up with solutions they’d embrace. Human-centered design means creating products to solve your consumer’s struggles and help those live better, easier lives.

The importance of human-centered design or human-centered approach in UX

I think it goes without saying why a human-centered approach is important in user experience design. User experience designers also design and build a product, the user experience.

In the market of digital products, if your product, site or application does not create a satisfactory user experience for the user; it will be removed from the competition. So, in user experience design, from the beginning, the user (human), his thoughts and emotions and the way he interacts with the digital product are considered. Human-centered design is sometimes called participatory design. For the simple reason that the human factor is involved in all stages. User experience designers properly, with comprehensive research, and with the participation and presence of users, reach a deep understanding of their needs, desires, and problems; and they have that understanding in front of their eyes in all stages of user experience design.

Principles of human-centered design

What principles should be kept in mind in the human-centered design of any product? I will tell you Don Norman’s answer to this question. (Don Norman is the one who first talked about the concept of User Experience.)

Even if the human-centered design process is not followed, the principles of human-centered design apply.

  1. Man is the center. Focus on him. Whatever you want to do, think about each and every person involved who is going to use that product or service in some way.
  2. The real problem is the original. Find the real problem or the root of the problems and try to solve it.
  3. You have to look at the system. The final goal of the product should also be kept in mind and the effect of the solutions on the entire product.

Human-centered design steps

As we said, human-centered design is a problem-solving method. That is, it is a way to find creative solutions to problems.

But how to reach that creative solution considering the principles of human-centered design? By following the following 3 steps:

The first step in human-centered design: Inspiration

Getting to know more, better and deeper the people who are going to be customers/users/consumers of your product or system. This is where research, especially field research, and getting to know your target audience is especially important. Real people with their problems and concerns are your sources of inspiration. At this stage, you are halfway there, because you have both identified problems and needs, and ideas for finding solutions. (If we want to describe this stage in the language of digital marketing, it can be said that you should do a little persona marketing.)

The second stage in human-centered design: Ideation

At this stage you need creativity more than anything else. You should look for possible answers and solutions (Brainstorming). Among those possible ways, choose and try the best ones (Prototyping). At this stage, you should still go to your sources of inspiration and get their opinion about the chosen solutions. Do not forget the first principle at any stage.

The third stage in human-centered design: Implementation

Among the best solutions, those that have passed the rigorous test of satisfying humans are ready to be operationalized or produced. This stage is the stage where you confidently launch your product on the market. You do it with confidence and you know that you will meet with customer/users’ luck, because you produced a product that matches people’s needs and also the best solution to their problems; because you had them in mind from the beginning.

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