The (further) rise of human-centered design

12 min read
Haarlemmerstraat 124-E
1013 EX Amsterdam

The (further) rise of human-centered design

12 min read

In a world that’s becoming more digital by the second, a great product is a product that feels human, that feels real. A human-centered design approach plays a determining role in designing digital products.

What is a human-centered design?

Many of our daily activities that used to require human interaction are now online, and the majority of them tend to stay so. Thus, a human-centered design fuels the creation of products that respond to the users’ needs on a more profound interaction — ultimately driving engagement and growth.

The human-centered design approach dictates that the creation of products that deeply resonate with a target audience. Thus, it’s not only about building empathy with the end-users but also about building an easy, intuitive, and enjoyable user-product interaction.

We at YouSir see a human-centered design (HCD) as creating products that meet users’ actual needs. With the HCD approach, we look at users’ needs as humans, without limiting them to the borders of application. Our analysis goes further than the primary goal of the application – we are searching for the original motives. When we understand the people we are trying to reach and design from their perspective, we develop the ideas they will embrace.

The Human-centred design approach delivers value. It enables creating products that solve the predominant users’ problem and those above and beyond it. With this approach, we create more benefits for the user and design a product that resonates better with their needs.

Importance of HCD

According to the UXmag, in the wake of COVID-19, it became clear that human-centred design isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a process with tenets meaningful enough to create lifesaving solutions. While empathy is always crucial in human-centred design, the severity of the crisis, real pressure of the response teams, and rapidly ticking clock meant empathy was no longer step one of a five-step HCD process — it became the process. Empathy was the red thread used to sew together solutions for medical professionals overwhelmed by a flood of patients and critical cases, hospital admins dealing with resource supply shortages, and government workers facing mounting pressure and uncertainty.

Importance of human-centered design (HCD)

Human-centered design has been on the design scene for quite a few years. But that doesn’t make it less relevant. On the contrary, human-Centered Design continues to gain traction and prosper. We see a few reasons for that:

  • The human-centered design makes it easier to digest a lot of information:The human-centered design makes it easier to digest a lot of information and easier to complete difficult tasks. As the stream of information the human brain reserves every day continuously growing, great design is ultimately about distilling the essence of what is being created. It helps concentrate on what is important and leads to the desired tasks execution.
  • Consumers increasingly crave great design: Slowly but surely, we collectively expect the design to be a part of our experience with products and services we use daily. Users expect and value great design. In this new world, Human-Centered Design is no longer “nice to have.” It’s central to the ultimate success or failure of any innovation.
  • The audience is expanding: With this rapid and dramatic shift to digital forced by Covid-19, the audience of digital products consumers is growing and changing. Among the expanded audience: children, the elderly, individuals with physical disabilities, and those who were sceptical about replacing in-person with digital interactions. Designers need to consider the different needs and abilities of these users as they create and improve digital channels.
  • Brands must create a deeper connection with users: In the modern world, just selling products or providing services is not enough. Customers require a more engaging experience with brands. Businesses must think about the needs of the clients and beyond. To create additional value, companies should anticipate users’ wishes and pursue to surprise and delight.


Adapting to the new reality

The COVID-19 crisis has sparked rapid, large-scale changes in human behaviour. And organizations have adapted to meet people’s needs in new ways. The challenge now is to build on that momentum and keep adapting—and innovating.

In their article “The importance of human-centered design” the BCG predicts that some of these shifts—accelerated technology adoption, hybrid digital˗physical delivery, and remote collaboration—will have a lasting impact. While no one exactly knows what the future holds, a few things are clear. First, we need to think differently about building and implementing solutions for the new reality. The human perspective is essential for a successful design, and that perspective is evolving—rapidly. Human-centered design lets you better understand people’s needs, motivations, and concerns, but it also makes for a more efficient, more flexible design process. By engaging early with users and seeking their input and feedback, you gain valuable insights while still working with sketches rather than fully built products. So you can pivot early and avoid steering resources in the wrong direction.

Also, it’s important to factor in geographic and cultural nuances: what might work well in one market could fail dramatically in another.

Another essential point to consider is the increase in the speed of innovation. It’s not enough to meet increased expectations and ensure robust, high-quality, and continually improving experiences. We need to do it quickly. And we need to respond to sudden and unexpected shifts quickly as well. Enabling such a fast pace means developing processes—and a culture—that let you iterate rapidly while engaging with end-users. Agile methodologies are a proven way to boost responsiveness to change and feedback.

Relationship-centred design

There is also a so-called “extension” to the HCD. That design process is called “relationship-centred Design”. RCD is going beyond the human; it is discovering relationships — between entities in the ecosystem. It considers the position or stage in which the user currently is, the pressure and goals they are feeling, and their capability and potential to exchange value between each other. We are not anymore designing for transactions; we honour the relationship.


In summary, both RCD and HCD are all about putting the users’ needs at the center of the design process, and there is no significant difference between them. Both approaches ensure that the digital product will be actively and meaningfully used and represent good value for money from the beginning of the relationship.

Keep on reading

Or get in touch