Human-Centered Design 101 | Blog | EmPushy

Human-Centered Design 101

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By Kieran @ EmPushy · July 04, 2022

Human-centered design is a process used to create products or services specifically designed for people's needs and their lives. It's an approach that relies on understanding the needs and desires of the consumer before developing any product, using methods such as market research, interviews, user testing, and ethnography. The ultimate goal is to create practical, usable, desirable, and feasible products.

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The Phases of Human-Centered Design

Here are the phases of human-centered design:


Before you can solve a problem, you have to understand what the problem is and what makes it a problem in the first place. You want to understand people's needs and experiences, their perceptions of the existing design/solution, and how they are affected by it.


Once you have a clear idea of the problems, it's time to define your goals. What do you want to accomplish? How will you know that you've succeeded?


Now that you know your goals and who will use the solution, it's time to generate solutions. This is where brainstorming comes in—you want to come up with as many ideas as possible since no idea is bad at this point.


A prototype is a preliminary model of an object, system, or mechanism. It is often used to test ideas and produce feedback on a design before the final product is built. Prototyping helps engineers and designers work out flaws in their designs before they have gone through the expense of building a final product.

Testing and Iterating

The team tests their ideas with real users to see what works and what doesn't.


The team designs a robust product that can be successfully manufactured and brought to market at a reasonable cost and timeline.

Human-centered Design Examples

The following are some examples of human-centered design:

Designing a medical device for nurses

Nurse practitioners are a growing part of the health care workforce, but they still spend much time transcribing information from electronic health records. That's why IDEO designed a new medical device that allows them to enter patient data directly into their EHRs. The result is a more efficient workflow and improved patient care because nurses can focus on patient interaction instead of spending time entering data.

Designing a toothbrush for kids

Children's toothbrushes can be challenging to use — they're too big and often come with uncomfortable handles or bristles that hurt teeth and gums when misused (or sometimes even used correctly). IDEO designed a new toothbrush that uses soft bristles and an ergonomic handle that fits naturally in kids' hands to solve these problems. The result is a toothbrush that encourages good brushing habits from an early age — and makes brushing fun too!

Improving a hospital’s patient experience

Hospitals are designed to be sterile environments where patients can receive care without feeling scared or overwhelmed by their surroundings. But as medical procedures become more complex and treatments more involved, this approach has come under fire from patients who want more personal attention from their doctors and nurses during their stay in the hospital. IDEO has been working with hospitals worldwide to improve the patient experience by designing better waiting rooms, examining rooms, medication dispensers, and other elements of hospital life that make patients feel more at ease during their stay.

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Shaping a product around the human user's needs, wants and limitations can be an enriching experience. Why not take advantage of your expertise in the user's experience, and try your hand at human-centered design? It might just give your career the creative boost that it desperately needs.

Interested in more tips like this? Check out What are Call-to-actions?.