Human-centered design

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Human-centered design is a research and design methodology that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. Human involvement typically takes place in observing the problem within context, brainstorming, conceptualizing, developing, and implementing the solution. The approach is largely considered innovative due to its ability to incorporate lived experiences, as well as the objectiveness of the approach.[1]

Human-centered design builds upon participatory action research by moving beyond participant's involvement and producing solutions to problems rather than solely documenting them. Initial stages usually revolve around immersion, observing, and contextual framing in which innovators immerse themselves with the problem and community. Consequent stages may then focus on community brainstorming, modeling and prototyping, and implementation in community spaces.[2] Further, human-centered design typically focuses on integrating technology or other useful tools in order to alleviate problems, especially around issues of health.[3] Once the solution is integrated, human-centered design usually employs system usability scales and community feedback in order to determine the success of the solution.[4]

Human-centered design may be utilized in multiple fields, including sociological sciences and technology. It has been noted for its ability to consider human dignity, access, and ability roles when developing solutions.[5] Because of this, human-centered design may more fully incorporate culturally sound, human-informed, and appropriate solutions to problems in a variety of fields rather than solely product and technology-based fields. Typically, human-centered design is more focused on "methodologies and techniques for interacting with people in such a manner as to facilitate the detection of meanings, desires and needs, either by verbal or non-verbal means."[6] In contrast, user-centered design is another approach and framework of processes which considers the human role in product use, but focuses largely on the production of interactive technology designed around the user's physical attributes rather than social problem solving.[7]

The Stanford at Stanford University is a large proponent of human-centered design and teaches innovative approaches to human problems by focusing on empathy-informed solutions.[8]

Future advances in human-centered design[edit]

Human-centered design has been both lauded and critiqued for its ability to actively problem solve with affected communities. Critiques include the inability of human-centered design to push the boundaries of available technology by solely tailoring to the demands of present day solutions, rather than focus on possible future solutions.[9] In addition, human-centered design often considers context, but does not offer tailored approaches for very specific groups of people. New research on innovative approaches include youth-centered health design, which focuses on youth as the central aspect with particular needs and limitations not always addressed by human-centered design approaches.[10]


  1. ^ Innovating for people: Handbook of human-centered design methods. (2012). Pittsburgh, PA: LUMA Institute, LLC.
  2. ^ Innovating for people: Handbook of human-centered design methods. (2012). Pittsburgh, PA: LUMA Institute, LLC.
  3. ^ Matheson, G. O., Pacione, C., Shultz, R. K., & Klügl, M. (2015). Leveraging human-centered design in chronic disease prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 48(4), 472-479.
  4. ^ Innovating for people: Handbook of human-centered design methods. (2012). Pittsburgh, PA: LUMA Institute, LLC.
  5. ^ Buchanan, R. (2001). Human dignity and human rights: Thoughts on the principles of human-centered design. Design issues, 17(3), 35-39.
  6. ^ Giacomin, J. (2014). What Is Human Centered Design? The Design Journal, 17(4), 606-623.
  7. ^ Abras, C., Maloney-Krichmar, D., & Preece, J. (2004). User-centered design. Bainbridge, W. Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 37(4), 445-456.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Norman, D. A. (2005). Human-centered design considered harmful. Interactions, 12(4), 14-19.
  10. ^