How to do Human-Centric Design

Shruti Mour
5 min readNov 30, 2021
Human-Centric Approach

Designing solutions come from diversified problems around you. In every project and field, some differences make this process different for everyone due to differences in how problems are defined and approached. Understanding problems is the first step in design, along with persistent study and revision of the plan. But generally, there are three steps to a human-centric design. Those are :

  • Understanding the Problem

You cannot design a good product or website until you learn or recognize what the problem is. When I first started designing, I observed my family, friends, relatives, people around me. You know how digitalized the world has become. So, everyone faces some or the other problem which is easily noticeable. They might differ in their demographics. E.g., new technology is very difficult for the older age group whereas the new age is tech-savvy. Some problems might vary according to their age group, gender, caste, work, or profession. A problem faced by a shopkeeper would be different from a problem faced by a doctor at work. So you will have to observe people and their problems to recognize them.

Interviewing is the crucial stage because this is where you analyze the problem of your client. Basically, when you design a solution you have to see through the client’s point of view, and to have that precise point of view, you should know the problem very well, deep enough to put yourself in his (client’s) shoes. Now, the first question arises about who to interview? Obviously, the client is essential, but the target audience is more important. For example, suppose you have to design an app for a ridesharing company (cabs) if you interview a company owner whose main direct or indirect motive is to earn money. Will you be able to design a good app? No, you won’t be. Thereby you will have to interview those who will use this app or who will be affected through this app. In this case, those are cab drivers; traffic inspectors; people who do jobs and don’t have their vehicles; college students; people who are on vacation without a car, and so on. And after interviewing them, you will understand what is their need and what you can provide. Now comes another question of what makes a good question while interviewing?

Let’s say, “do you use cabs to reach your workplace?”

“No”

Instead, try this “your workplace is 25 km away. What convenience do you use to reach your workplace? Why is that? Tell me more.”

The point here in these questions is to ask more open-ended questions to know more interesting facts. Avoid asking Yes/No questions. The user needs to relate to those questions if you want to understand his problems and solutions. Don’t think that the user is also a designer who knows what to answer according to your profession. For eg. “if you are provided with an app where you can navigate to the landing page without a call to action button,” Instead of this, ask “if you had an app where you don’t have to log in for booking a taxi /or whatever the purpose of the app is.” The user would be more comfortable in answering the 2nd question. Ask questions where they don’t have to think; which are fresh to their memory. E.g., “how often do you use cabs for going to work?” And then this “how many times did you use a cab to go to work last week?” The first question contains the answer with an exaggeration, but the second question includes the exact answer. So ask questions that end up in genuine solutions. Always pause after ending your question and let the user talk so that the user knows that now they have to answer. There can be many other ways you can use in your research like diary-keeping, surveys, forms, pager, record & so on. When you discuss with your team while collecting ideas or brainstorming, make sure that you tell them, and you yourself also use it ‘as what the user would do here?’ Think like a user more than a designer during this stage. You will not only understand the problem but will also understand which solutions are more suitable.

  • Ideas and Prototyping

Start with basic storyboards. The team should collect all the possible impossible ideas and then discuss them through storyboards. Forget the drawing; focus on telling the idea through a story & picture.

Then go from storyboard to paper prototypes. You have to think that now the story has to be made possible on a device. You literally have to design sliders, boxes, text area, buttons, image area, etc. it depends upon your device and project. Use UI skills to make prototypes. Make it look all real on paper. While you do this, you will know which ideas are possible on paper and which are not. Then show that your stakeholders, users, clients, and you will have all the critical reviews for creating the best one.

  • Test and Find

Experiment with all the shortlisted ideas, which one is best suited to meet the needs of the person you are designing for. You will have all the feedback which will help you with criticism and applause so you will know what to keep & what to change. After paper, it’s time to go pixels. Use whatever program you want to use to illustrate your idea into digital mockups. Give life to your paper prototype with colors; real images; typography; etc. Use all your UI skills to create a high-fidelity mockup. Now comes the presentation. Present them through video prototypes. Video prototypes are always fun. Video prototypes are very easy to understand and look so realistic to users. You can also go to pixels and then experiment, and it’s on you because pixels take a lot more effort but are more realistic to users. Same way paper is easy to illustrate but might be a little confusing for users. It depends upon different situations and projects. In the end, you will know if your users are satisfied with your designed solution or not. If not you have to brainstorm more and repeat the steps. This is like the cycle of creating solutions, but you get experienced by the time because this is human-centered design. Human-centered design is about creating solutions according to the people you are dealing with. Human psychology can be understood only when you deal with a diverse population which will happen over time, and you will learn that every problem has to be dealt with differently.

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Shruti Mour

UI/UX Designer, I intend to create designed solutions and want knowledge of creativity in return.