Today, technology is all around us. However, in order to best leverage the wealth of available technology, companies must be able to connect with customers on a human level to create products and services that meet the real needs of their customers.
Human Centered Design (HCD) is a process in which customers are involved throughout the product or service design process. Using a human centered design approach gives companies and organizations a way to ask the right questions and address real problems, in ways that fit into the everyday lives of their customers. Customers, fully involved in the process, can now enjoy products that fit their needs–which ultimately delivers a better return on investment for the company.
Human Centered Design is a very integral part of a product’s creation process. The entire process consists of not only products’ physical appearance, but the User Experience as well. One of the biggest benefits of engaging customers early in the design process is that companies are able to use resources more efficiently to create a practical, user friendly solution.
Often, companies may be unaware of issues with their products until they get their target users involved. One example, involving the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, discusses a program called Moneythink that the business school students created for high school students to address financial management. To make the application user-friendly, the teens were given significant input. The high school students found that initial iterations of the app were not particularly interactive, so future versions included challenges–similar to those seen on other social media platforms–to drive engagement.
Both companies and consumers are at an advantage when they are on the same page. Users get what they want, and companies are able to sell more products while solving real, human problems. When companies can incorporate ideas from customers, they are able to begin the process by identifying what and where the real problems are. These problems can be anything–and they may range from educating teens on how to manage finances, to helping people locate missing car keys. In each case, companies can work with consumers to create smartphone applications that promote financial education, or an app that is able to locate your car keys through a sensor. Getting to this point and creating an agreement between what makes sense for both the company and consumer can often be difficult, but the process becomes easier when companies and organizations ask the right questions to get right down to the very needs of the customer. Understanding customer demographics also helps companies devise a marketing plan and product line that accurately targets that base and creates a standard for future products.
The difference between the traditional design process versus Human Centered Design is that in HCD, consumers are at the center of the process. Consumers are able to have input in building products that fit their needs, from concept to final product. While a product or service is being built, potential customers can give constructive criticism and appropriate feedback to companies in order to determine how to improve or pivot their product.
Ultimately delivering a product that fits the need of the consumer is one of the keys to driving a successful business. Involving customers in every step of the design process and giving them the ability to give feedback gives companies a better understanding of what exactly customers need to solve real problems–and helps companies create products that are user friendly and tailored to the target audience and demographics. Using Human Centered Design, companies can bring products and consumers closer together, one prototype at a time.