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What is Human-Centered Design and Why is it Important?

What is Human-Centered Design (HCD)?

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a design philosophy that takes the human experience into account during the development process. In human-centered design, the user’s goals and needs are at the center of the design and development process. Instead of building a product and forcing customers or employees to adapt, HCD allows the people who will be using the system to dictate how the product is developed.

By including stakeholders’ input in the development process, the end product will be highly user-friendly, speed up task completion and increase efficiency. HCD also complements modern approaches to software like Agile development.

What are the benefits of HCD?

Some of the primary benefits of using the HCD approach for creating products include:

  • Design and test before building the final product

  • Develop a user-friendly product

  • Gain a better understanding of the intended audience for the product and their specific pain points

  • Cut costs for features that do not prove value before devoting development time

  • Decrease support and maintenance for the product

Components of HCD:

There are six different phases of HCD, focusing on building products faster and getting immediate feedback. The phases are:

Observation: During observation, designers identify the problem that the software will solve by noting the product’s best features and the pain points that the intended audience is facing. The observation phase enables teams to get a thorough understanding of the product’s needs before creating the product.

Ideation: During the ideation phase, designers create the personas and journey maps needed to develop a product-centered around the people who will be using the product. This gives the team an accurate estimation of what the software will look like. The personas allow teams to create products with the end-user in mind, while the journey maps will enable them to build a product roadmap.

Rapid prototyping: After the observation and ideation stages are complete, rapid prototyping can start. During rapid prototyping, teams create a minimum viable product to test out quickly and get feedback from stakeholders. HCD uses rapid prototyping to get those stakeholders involved early on, so the final product can realize its intended value.

User feedback: After the first prototype is complete, the user feedback phase allows stakeholders to experience the product and give their criticisms of the product. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods, but the most common ones are through presenting the product to the stakeholders or sending images to them and asking them to fill in a questionnaire.

Iteration: After getting user feedback, teams can take that input and make the prototype better. The iteration cycle involves continually getting feedback from stakeholders and using their input to improve the product as much as possible while considering time and money constraints.

Implementation: The final stage of HCD is implementation. This stage is when the team finally releases the product to the market. The product has been iterated and improved significantly, and it is ready to provide value. Once this is done, the cycle begins again with either a new feature to the product or a new product.

The different phases of HCD complement Agile software development methodology and empower the user of the product. The usage of HCD alongside Appian and Agile development enables businesses to move at startup speed while maintaining high operational excellence. Macedon is adept at using Appian and HCD to help meet business goals. Talk to one of our experts here to learn how you can leverage HCD in your business today.

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