Human Centered Design

Human Centered Design seems to be an oxymoron - shouldn't the human perspective be included in every step of every design? Page Principal Todd Ray shares several insights on the topic:

  1. All humans are not created equal, and Human Centered Design is a framework within which design thinkers are recalibrating the design process for a renewed focus on empathy and inclusion of all. Human Centered Design calls on all designers to engage this reality. Its advent reorients exploration into the human condition. Through the ideological constructs of “abstraction” and “average” designers have sought ways to refine, or simplify, designs so they are accessible for all users – and the unique base has been watered down to the general. For a grossly simplified example, I wear a shirt size somewhere between a medium and large. So without tailoring, or customization, if I buy a mass consumable shirt, it is either too tight or too big for me. Fortunately, in an age of rapid prototyping, mass customization is becoming more and more real.  
  2. In a current project, we are working with a pedagogical specialist for a major university. She is supporting the university's pursuit to shift teaching approaches employed by some of the “old guard” to be more consistent with current modes for younger generations. She noted that the professors will need to adapt their teaching methods to the spaces provided as a way of altering pedagogy — thus, and I quote, “Pedagogy informs space and space alters pedagogy”. If a forced adaption is desired for a future intention, and the client is driving this idea, this is intriguing!
  3. Design Thinking is a process versus a framework. (When I start work) I imagine this process including elements such as Conceptualizing a Problem; Research and Exploration for Understanding; Ideate and Iterate; Prototype and Validate.  This process is not always linear by any means, but is an iterative process — and honestly, I think this is what makes it rich! It is a linear trajectory of divergent or reverberating ideas gathered through engaging designers, users, and other thinkers toward a common goal!

A related interview with Todd on Human Centered Design was published in stilwerk magazine, which strives to offer a more challenging view on contemporary design, often considering topics of society and sociology. The magazine is published twice a year with a circulation of 40,000 throughout German-speaking countries. To view the article, click here