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The Importance of Human Centred Design

As humans, we come in to contact with thousands of products throughout our life-time. Some products have a bigger impact on the world than others; good products effectively overcome problems experienced by the user, whilst poorly designed products can hinder the user. So, how do Product Designers ensure that the user gains the maximum benefit from the products they develop? This is achieved by taking a human centred approach and creating a holistic experience for users to engage with.

Better understanding of a problem

When faced with a question the majority of us would make a number of assumptions to establish an answer. The same could be said for the design process; however, when the most important variable is omitted, one would run the risk of completely missing an underlying problem simply by not understanding the end user in enough depth. Through first hand observation and direct communication with the user, the Product Designer can better understand any problems or opportunities that may exist. As a result, the final product can be far more valuable than one that did not aim to address any core issues experienced by the user.

A deeper user appreciation

When placed in the metaphorical shoes of a user it can become easier to understand their needs and most importantly their limitations. For example, when developing a product for a user with arthritis, how would a Designer who does not suffer from arthritis effectively design for it? Empathetic testing is a great way of doing this, by simulating the restriction of movement in the joints could allow greater understanding of the condition and in turn, allow a better user experience to be delivered.

Leaner development costs

When the Designer considers the user at the beginning of the product development process, they have a broader sense of the challenges ahead at the earliest possible opportunity. Many development projects exceed their original time-scale due to a lack of understanding and upfront research. For example, a possible solution may be developed and reviewed by a user once a working prototype has been created. There could be fundamental usability issues associated with the prototype, forcing the Designer to build a further prototype. If they had consulted the user in the first instance, this entire design iteration could have been avoided.

Faster adoption rates

When introducing a new product or technology in to the market, it takes a certain amount of time for users to adapt. If the product has been developed with the user in mind, adoption rates have proven to be much faster. This is because users find it easier to adapt to the change created, which may result in an enhanced user experience or allow a user to perform a specific task more quickly or more accurately. Ultimately, high adoption rates lead to increased product sales, revenue and company growth.

In summary, a human centred design approach can offer great benefits and influence the quality of the end product. In some cases, changing it completely when problems you initially didn’t know existed come to light, this enables the Product Designer to create a better experience for the end user, which is likely to result in a more commercially successful product.

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