What is Human-Centered Design (HCD)?

Updated: May 12, 2021

HCD is a creative approach to work that puts humans at the center of the problem-solving process. It requires experts, stakeholders, and end-users to co-create tailored solutions through collaboration and empathy.

There are up to six stages of this process, which include:

1) Discovery of the subject matter and problem-at-hand

2) Interpretation, or collective analysis of gathered insights

3) Ideation, or coming up with ideas and solutions

4) Experimentation, or prototyping potential solutions and gathering feedback

5) Evolution, or improving the solution based on feedback

6) Implementation of the improved solution

During this process, it is important to let go of any preconceived notions of "right" or "practical" solutions, but keep conversations open and creative. The outcome of the HCD process can encompass new technologies, infrastructure, products, and services: a community-driven app, green building, or widely-accessible health service.

While many HCD firms and professionals focus on commercial business for corporate profit, others focus on making a positive, social impact in various fields like public health and agriculture. This directory focuses on HCD for social good. For further reading on HCD, check out this article by the Moving Worlds Institute.

HCD professionals come from all walks of life. They are engineers and architects, artists and techies. But overall, HCD practitioners for social impact focus on shifting the status quo and centering the users of systems and services to make the world a better place.

Graphic credited to: Rund Al Dwaik

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