• Divya Shakthi

How Human Centred Design can Scale Your Business

Since the 1950s, businesses have leveraged design thinking. Human centered design, a relatively new concept, has its roots in ethnography, sociology and cognitive psychology. It wasn’t until Mike Cooley coined the term Human Centered Technology in his book ‘Human centered systems’ that the term was picked up by the founder of IDEO.

The Human centered design has varied meanings but the most likely being:

A process that ensures that the products, services, and/or system changes being developed will make life better for those whom the solution is being designed for” ~ Movingworlds Institute

There are thousands of businesses operating everyday and the use of human centered design will optimize the results. It’s commendable to note that this process can be used to solve real life problems too. Below are the 5 phases of HCD (Human centered Design)

Researching the Problem

In this phase, businesses empathise with the users and this is where the research part comes into play. In simple terms, it means to identify people experiencing the problems and the possible understanding of those problems and how it affects the individuals experiencing it.

The common methods of doing this:

  • Interviewing

  • Observation

  • Usability Testing

  • Surveys

  • Empathy maps

  • User journey maps

While these are the direct methods, instances such as competitor analysis do not fall under this category.

Defining the Problem

The challenge is set at this phase. The business narrows down the research phase and establishes the main challenge. Once empathization is done, the following questions might help move forward.

  • What stood out?

  • What patterns were noticed?

  • What are the needs of the users?

With the help of the aforementioned ideas, outlining the problem is the first step. According to IDEO, one common way of doing this is:

As a… (who is the user?) I want to… (what do they want to do?)
so that I can… (why do they want to do this?).
How might we…. ? (what need can we help meet?)”


This step is crucial in decision making and creative and Lateral thinking are vital components. A lot of different techniques could be used:

  • Word Association - Building up or linking words to form an idea.

  • Free Writing - Putting down all the thoughts onto a paper

  • Mind Maps - Write the main idea in the middle and related concepts mapping to it.

  • Notecards - Write each idea down on a notecard. Move them around to get more ideas.

There are a million ways to brainstorm and come up with unique ideas that fit the business’ goals.


Prototypes or early versions of designs are a way to test ideas or discover problems. These could be high fidelity or low, based on the requirements. This phase is pertinent to any field or industry alike. For example, writers make outlines, architects build rough models and so on. This phase clears out the possible threats associated with the decisions.


After all the hard work put in the 4 phases, this phase is all about testing with the real users. The prototype is shown to someone and is closely observed. They might find themselves stuck in the process or they might find it easier to navigate through the pages, in either case, notes are taken down that serve as a starting point to build upon the product. The normalized step by step process to this is as below:

  • Develop Test hypothesis

  • Plan the test

  • Recruit participants

  • Run the test

  • Evaluate Results

When IDEO, an exemplary company working on products using Design thinking and human centered design coined the term, the world was ecstatic. Since then businesses have been witnessing success and joyful consumers. The smartest way to learn human centered design is by working on it. If the business is built upon a solid foundation, there’s no way the consumers will feel unhappy. To elevate the progress of your business, use the design kit.

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