What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-Centered Design is an approach to problem solving that puts the knowledge and needs of people experiencing a problem at the core. It provides a set of tools and processes for deeply understanding people’s needs and experiences, generating ideas to meet those needs, and then implementing innovative, tailored, and practical solutions.

Human-Centered Design is a different way of solving problems—instead of trying to solve problems in an office building, this approach promotes the importance of going out and interacting with people who know the problem best. This gets us to better solutions because the ideas that move forward are aligned with the needs and situations of real people.

The Human-Centered Design Process can be visualized as five sets of activities: Define, Research, Ideate, Prototype, and Test

  • When we’re defining, we’re making choices about where we want to focus our energy

  • When we’re researching, we’re looking out at the world and learning from people and situations

  • When we’re ideating, we’re thinking of all the ways we might solve or address the issues that showed up in previous steps

  • When we’re prototyping, we’re selecting the ideas we think have the best chance at answering our problem question and building things that help us show those ideas to others

  • When we’re testing, we’re showing those prototypes to other people and listening to the feedback they give us

This series of Human-Centered Design blog posts highlights five simple, commonly-used tools and processes to explore specific parts of the Human-Centered Design process using a trauma-informed lens:

  • When researching, an Empathy Map helps us put ourselves in another person’s shoes

  • When working with the data collected, Personas help us make sense of our research and test our ideas and solutions

  • Throughout the process, but especially when coming up with new ideas, it’s best practice to Start Solo

  • When making a decision, Dot Voting is helpful to focus in on a few ideas with which to move forward

  • We use the Feedback Grid to test our ideas and solutions

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to dive in and experience Human-Centered Design using a trauma-informed lens to deepen your understanding and find solutions with the people you serve!

Other Reading:

75 Design Thinking Tools Explained Resources, readings, engagement tools, and more from project partners Overlap Associates

Poverty Interrupted (2015) Ideas 42 Using behavioral science and design thinking to improve approaches to addressing the challenges of poverty

Healthy Environments: Making Spaces for (and with) Children (Chapter 3) Young children are now recognized as able and entitled to play an active role in the design of early childhood spaces

Design Thinking, Children, and Behavior A blog post from Teacher Tom on his personal use of design thinking in the setup of preschool classroom space

OverlapStep One