Revisiting Design's Value to Business

About two years ago, when I first started studying human centered design, I began articulating the value design adds to business. Re-reading my old blog post reminded me of my own inexperience with the matter, and now with two years of graduate design experience and a year's worth of experience in the internet startup world, I'd like to provide another round of analysis about design and business. These views are bound to change again in the future as I apply the design process to more business related problems.

When working as a human centered designer with a company, either as a consultant or an employee, the work the designer does begins and ends with people - their needs, their wants, their problems and challenges. The designer observes, interviews, and documents people to discover their needs and challenges. From there, the designer prototypes in response to what they've learned in order to test assumptions and iterate as needed. At the end of the day, it's about understanding people and creating meaningful services, systems, and products that meet the needs of the company's end user.

Now what that means for the internet startup (the community I've been a part of for the past year in Philadelphia) is that the human centered designer can help to understand, communicate, and refine the systems the startup's a part of, the people they're reaching out to, the services or products they're creating, and conveying how they all fit together. The role I've begun to fill is that of a thinker, a researcher, and a maker - and collaboration is the at the root of everything I just said.

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