Human Centered Design and Empathy in Practice

Human centered design are three words that you do not often see put together. However, this concept is just as simple as it sounds. When developing an idea, a product, or an organization, the idea is to put total emphasis on the needs of your consumer. Human centered design is an approach to innovating that begins by fully understanding who you are trying to help. When using human centered design, the very foundation of your product has been created to mirror what your consumer needs, not what you may think they need. This turns a creative process in to one that is built by your customers- which will better your product, and its appeal.



Through understanding who will be using your end product, you must be creating a solution to your target customers problem. First, it is imperative to always be talking to your potential consumers about the nuances of a problem on a day to day, real life basis. Brainstorming ideas of what this group of people may want, even after knowing who they are, is mere speculation. Fully realizing how your consumer can have her needs met is through a rather intuitive approach: going out in to the field.



This stage is where you need to check your ego. It involves testing your products, whether in idea or in prototype, on your potential consumer. Asking them if they would use your product, having them test it out in person, asking them what they may think would be a good solution to whatever problem you are trying to address are some ways that this is done. After considering the feedback of these people, consider how your designs do and do not line up with their idea of an effective solution. Inevitably, this will end in having a lot of the ideas that you initially thought to be your best, actually resonate the least with your consumer. This phase of human centered design may leave you back at square one, but ultimately sets you on the right path to building for and by your consumer.



Once you have a product that, after being tested, meets your consumers needs, you will go into the last phase. This phase involves promoting your product, and integrating it into the group of people you initially set out to help. The process of human centered design makes this stage reliable and makes you more confident that your consumer will buy the product or idea that was ultimately built by them. After all, the people that you have made connections with will be on the lookout for your product!


Human centered design is all about waking up every day, and looking your customer in the eye. This process literally puts the human into design. Whether you consider this approach as an action, a mindset, or a philosophy, it is in the end a bridge between you and your consumer. In this way, you are solving real world problems by amplifying the voices of those you want to help. Human centered design empowers your business, and empowers the people who will put their money in to it. When creating a product, this process keeps people grounded in their values, and constantly reminds them of why they set out to create it in the first place. Through having first hand encounters with your consumers, you build a network that develops you into a better business person and one that is always evolving along with your customers needs.



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Empowering young people in developing countries to improve their communities through human-centered design.

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