It all starts with changing the belief that there’s a solution waiting to be discovered for the human problem you’re trying to resolve — and for the people dealing with that problem. Human centered design (HCD) is a framework central to any innovation process. Optimistic, empathy-based, and holistic, a human centered design ensures that regardless of the tools or processes used (like design thinking) the result will be purposeful, useful ideas that solve problems for people they are intended to serve.
HCD: A Process Focused on Human Needs
HCD is purposefully nonlinear. It requires cross-functional teams to discover, explore, and resolve problems through iteration and radical collaboration.
An HCD approach can not only solve problems but also help avoid them in the first place. Grounded in a deep understanding of the user, aligning around their shared problems, HCD guides idea generation based on factors like desirability and so on.
HCD is often confused with design thinking but they are not the same thing. Design thinking (DT) is a collaborative process based on co-creation that works to identify and create desirable and adaptable products and services through iterative steps, including empathizing, defining, designing, ideating, prototyping, testing, and repeating. HCD is the litmus test which guarantees that, in the end, the product actually solves real human and business problems.
For example, we used a design thinking process to conceptualize, from scratch, a digital product solution that would disrupt breakdown management for the trucking industry. We used HCD to ensure that the end product served and solved the human needs of each player in the breakdown process – from the driver to the mechanic.
Without HCD, the idea may have worked technically but not been adopted by the end user. People tend to adopt things that they find useful.
An HCD mindset also has the power to forge alignment across organizations. It establishes a common purpose of the effort.
This is why we believe in creating value propositions on the basis of a people-first design process at an engagement’s outset and focus on using HCD throughout.
In this quest, HCL’s end-to-end HCD solutions involve:
- Learning and understanding user needs and business goals.
- Innovation, design, and technology enablers and accelerators.
- Creating and considering experiences for both the customers and the business.
- Building and deploying solutions with measurable outcomes.
The Value of Understanding the Human Perspective
Design is about solving human problems. To really understand human needs, challenges, pain-points, concerns, behaviors and what drives them, an HCD mindset is imperative for exploring potential business models.
Applying an HCD-first mindset and approach ensures value creation for businesses and their consumers. In a fast-digitalizing business ecosystem, design thinking plays a crucial role in aligning products to customer expectations.
As business models shift, HCD helps businesses forge well-rounded digital strategies to develop an array of solutions for future end users. Organizations with human centered design thinking at the core of their operations – like Apple and Google – use HCD to create cutting-edge value by understanding their users’ purposes and goals. In knowing for whom they are designing, what they want to achieve, and why, companies like Apple and Google ensure that their design teams’ future efforts lead to a continuous and desirable product evolution and improvement.
Scaling Digital with Human-centered Design
Through constant innovation across industries and cultural touchpoint, digitalization has made our lives more technically dependent and less human reliant.
This has brought us to a crossroads where technology has to be more human-friendly and attuned to our lives as it replaces ever more spaces of human effort. It should be capable of balancing operational efficiency with an optimized customer- and human-centric experience.
HCD acts like a Greek choir in this new landscape, whispering human perspectives and needs in the ears of those making digital decisions.
Embedding HCD as a strategic perspective accelerates the transformation and also increases a design’s value. Besides, it develops a creative culture of taking risks, trusting employees, accepting the incremental failure, and learning from it to improve and innovate.
Corporations are now establishing a human-centered mindset because they understand that a brand’s credibility depends on the impression it creates on the customer experience.
Hyper-personalization of products and services and customer-centric designed experiences – all can be credited to HCD thinking. Amazon Go or Apple smartwatches may just have flooded the market but the concept of designing for human need vs. just what a business wants to sell is not new. Organizations have long realized that they need to be omnipresent among existing consumers. To do so, they must offer what people actually want and need to solve real-life problems while also looking to break new ground in new directions for as-yet unmet needs. For instance, Apple’s iPad – a product that some argued at the time was a solution in search of a problem.
The HCD approach only underlines this market dynamic, assisting the organization leadership to develop the most effective solutions, business models and digital strategies aimed to solve real-human needs and solve their problems. As technologies become more advanced, HCD will ensure that smart solutions not only meet immediate customer needs and expectations but also factor in social considerations like human needs, wants, and behaviors.
Leading the Way: HCL’s Innovation Credibility
With HCL’s expertise and advanced competencies around human-centered design, the company has partnered with organizations across industries and geographies. Among them is a European banking major that is building a co-innovation lab to drive customer experience with a fully customizable application. The lab enables collaborative concept sharing and prototype development, which enables HCL to deliver a platform that aligns risk and finance datasets while integrating business processes.
Another partner, a world-renowned football club wants to increase their supporter base and optimize the experience, before, during, and after a match. Attracting untapped swaths of their international fan base was negatively impacting the client’s digital revenue.
HCL helped reimagine the fan experience by developing a personalized digital platform that delivers meaningful multimedia content, analytics, e-commerce, social media integrations, gamification, and real-time match experience. By diving into the life of the supporter, understanding their preferences and by analyzing trends, HCL created a roadmap to create a one-billion fan base and media reach. HCL also deployed a single digital platform to connect various channels like merchandising, ticket booking, player stats, social media, etc.
HCL partnered with a major European automobile maker to identify and suggest IA/UX best practices to be adopted and integrated across product life cycle management. Based on the reliable representation of audience, HCL identified key user goals, needs, challenges, and expectations. We came up with a design thinking model that helps users optimize their KDP application. The modern interface also enables a real-time, 360-degree view of all parts, resulting in an elevated, more informative, and useful customer experience.
The HCD development space may be nascent but is rapidly growing with an increasing number of companies and agencies specializing in HCD-driven digital solutions as technology advances and user and customer-centric experience becomes ever more necessary.
Figures indicate that HCL is doing it better than its competitors. A New York-based environmental group stated that HCL’s HCD digital solutions resulted in improving quality by 86%, increasing productivity by 68%, and enhancing customer satisfaction by 76%. While this underlines our innovation efforts, it also helps serve as a differentiator. HCL is a knowledge partner in understanding the human side of the digital landscape by creating robust and holistic business ecosystems with a human-centered mindset.