Human-centered design (HCD) is a powerful and practical method to create meaningful change in your workplace and in your community. During this webinar, you will get an overview of some important principles and tools that designers use to create positive impact through their work, strategies for adopting HCD methods in your life, and a glimpse into the empathetic mindset of a human-centered designer. 

We’ll also talk about the importance of equity in HCD, and how these methods are connected to systems thinking and sustainability practices. Whether you work in private or non-profit organizations or are a community member looking to effect change in your neighborhood, HCD can help you create innovative and empathy-driven solutions to the problems you care about.

In this webinar, we cover: 

  • identifying your customers or user groups and understanding their diverse needs through observation and conversation.
  • designing an impactful problem statement centered on research insights.
  • developing solutions through an iterative process of generating and prototyping ideas.
  • refining designs based on meaningful user feedback.

Emily Stover, MLA, is a multidisciplinary designer with over 10 years of experience solving problems using human-centered design. She believes that design has the power to create more equitable and adaptive communities and is passionate about increasing access to human-centered tools and methods for people working hard to make a difference.

Interested in learning more about human-centered design? Read Want Elegant Solutions for Your Organization's Toughest Challenges? Tap Human-Centered Design Principles and The Power of Human-Centered Design: Why Empathy Is a Must for Organizational Change Management. For a deeper dive, attend the six-week program Human Centered Design Foundations, a partnership of the U of M College of Continuing and Professional Studies and the Minnesota Design Center in the College of Design, which starts March 13.

University of Minnesota employees can receive 200 wellness points by viewing a CCAPS professional development webinar. Please complete this form to record your wellness points.

Intro to Human-Centered Design - Takeaways

What is human-centered design (HCD)? 

It’s an iterative process of problem-framing and solution-testing, rooted in a deep understanding of human needs.

  • Design is a dialogue.
  • Anyone who’s trying to be innovative in their work can benefit from these practices.
  • Even if you are a designer, you can still benefit from learning HCD practices.
  • Design is planful act to create something new. It can be something simple, like a meal. It’s not difficult and is usually intuitive for many people. 

The difference between upper-case “D” design and lower-case “d” design is that lower-case design is:

  • A core competency for all humans
  • Problem-solving methodology
  • Increasingly critical in a changing world
  • Frontline employees/users are customer experts

HCD involves:

  • Empathy - spend a lot of time on users' needs and find some stories! 
    • Be humble
    • Get really curious
    • Spend time observing the users in action
    • Have some open-ended conversations by building rapport, digging for stories, and seeking emotion
  • Defining the problem - fall in love with the problem and decide where you are and your impact on the issue
    • How might we …? 
      • “How” indicates there is a solution 
      • “might” means it’s ok we don’t know what it is, we’re going to be open about possible solutions 
      • “we” will find it together. “We” is not the design team, it’s the partnership of all affected people/users
    • It should be fun!
  • Ideation - humans have a natural ability to generate lots of ideas
    • Many ideas won’t be great—that’s ok!
    • Quantity over quality
    • Withhold analysis and judgment
    • Seek nonobvious associations and connections
    • “Anyone can increase their creative capacity by exercising it”
  • Prototyping - Make to learn, anything that moves your idea forward
    • Identify methods to improve
    • What else do I need to learn? Try to design an experiment around that
    • Design an low-fi, quick, experiment
    • Why test?
      • Check assumptions
      • Find design weaknesses
      • Identify opportunities
      • It’s fun! (also can save time, money, and heartache)
      • “Don’t think of it as failure, think of it as designing experiments through which you’re going to learn?”
  • Testing - Failing forward
    • How to test?
      • Embrace failure
      • Engage experts (especially users)
      • Remember to listen