The Perspective of Human Centered Design: What is it?

Human Centered Design has two premises. The first, individuals comprising a culture are the experts of their culture. The second, in order to design a solution for a culture’s problem, the designer is not the expert of the solution or the problem. A culture comprises all the rules and beliefs, tacit and explicit, governing interactions between individuals, thought and action processes, and value systems. An individual can be a part of several different cultures and cultures may also influence one another just as individuals influence one another.

The implications of these two premises set the necessary conditions for a design process that removes the designer as the locus of action for solving and framing a problem. This means the designer acts as a communicator and investigator, discovering a culture’s problem through ethnographic research, interviews and surveys, and cultural probes. The information gathered is synthesized, analyzed, and summarized to be communicated back to the individuals of a culture so these individuals may validate or invalidate how the culture is framing its own problem. This means the human centered designer is also a facilitator, allowing the culture to use the designer as a means to solving their own problem.

Previous attempts at describing the human centered design process and other design related topics:

  • Reflections on Design Research: Framing the Problem, Part 2
  • Reflections on Design Research: Framing the Problem
  • From Neuroscience and Philosophy to Design: Some Thoughts on Thinking and Solving
  • The Shopping Mall and The Design Process
  • Explaining Design to Non-Designers
  • Revisiting Design's Value to Business
  • Design vs Business: What Value Does Design Add to Business?
  • Design Research: The IDEO Way
  • Fourth Order Design: The Underlying Structure of Communities and Moral Obligations of Designers