Design can be a difficult thing to articulate, even to those who’ve lived and breathed it for decades. It means many different things to many people, so no two definitions are the same. But one thing is constant; problem solving. Design can be a singular creative output, such as infographic design, visual story and brand identity, or a broad method to organize ideas based on their value to people, such as innovation and strategic design. Regardless of the deliverable, our goal is always the same: understand the consumer, uncover their needs and create an experience that exceeds their expectations.
What is Human Centered Design?
One industry thought leader has defined it this way: “Human Centered Design [Design Thinking], brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable.” It is a mindset that puts the end-user at the center of the solution, with insights gained generally through observation and immersion.
It is not about making things pretty, Post-It notes or magical Sharpies. It is about designing a solution (technology, product, service, strategy) that focuses solely on the user’s needs. In order to do this, the design team must understand the needs of the user, and bring insight into how to best provide it.
How is Human Centered Design Used in IT / Tech?
Its most prevalent use in IT is in conjunction with software development, in a role generally defined as user experience, or UX. For example, as companies are considering a new application – website, mobile app, and feedback mechanism – the process usually starts with understanding what problem they are trying to solve, and what the users want. Once that is known, a development team can create the functionality as specified by the design team. If design is not included, generally developers focus on functionality, not usability. Think of this as the product that has lots of features but you can’t figure out how to use it.
The other use in IT, and where we see the biggest new opportunity for our customers, is leveraging design in strategy. For example, we use a Persona Workshop as part of our End User Compute (EUC) offering in healthcare. Persona Workshops are held to understand the personas of the people who work in the hospital – focusing on the nurses, doctors, patients – and how they use technology. Getting business leaders talking about people first and not technology leads to a solution that solves the users’ issues, and everyone wins.
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