5 Companies That Have Embraced Human-Centred Design

If your company is working on a new website or app, putting your users at the core of its development is key. After all, while you can try to wow your users with state-of-the-art features, if your app doesn’t solve a real user problem, then it will more than likely fall flat.  Focusing on what the user needs rather than your business goals will result in a more successful end product. So, when it comes to designing a website or app, accessibility, usability, and simplicity should be fundamental to the design process. 

Why is Human-Centred Design Important?

Human-centred design is all about enhancing the usability and user experience of a product or service. That means putting the customer first throughout and considering how real people will use the product. Of course, it takes a lot of work; you need to take the time to understand your users, their problems and desires. However, in doing that, you are much better placed to create a product that will help them to lead a more productive life. 

The best way to understand the difference human-centred design can make is to look at examples of companies who have embraced it. Read on for five examples of human-centred design, where users have been key from start to finish; the results speak for themselves. 

  1. Duolingo

As one of the most widely used language-learning apps, Duolingo certainly must be doing something right. The first thing you’ll notice, if you take a look, is the app’s simplistic design. The company recognises that when people are embarking on learning something new, the last thing they need is a hurdle before they even get started. In addition, the company clearly did its user research and realised that people learning languages need continual praise and recognition. To make that work in an app, they have used gamification where each stage needs to be completed before the next task is unveiled. CTAs are placed in just the right place to encourage users to move on when they’ve uncovered new learning categories. The result is a learning app that enables users to track their progress and feel like they are advancing without being overloaded with information. The systematic approach keeps users engaged. And the proof is in its success; the app has millions of downloads on both iOS and Android. 

  1. Trello

A company that shows a great example of how to keep things simple is Trello. The online collaboration tool aims to help users keep their projects and discussion boards organised in one place. When it comes to the design, there are no additional features. Users are easily able to navigate through different boards. And this comes down to understanding those users. After all, a tool aimed at helping organise projects, shouldn’t create more work. As Trello has expertly demonstrated, it had to keep things simple and only give users the features they actually need to facilitate the task at hand. 

  1. Airbnb

The whole ethos of Airbnb, the accommodation-sharing platform, comes from a human-centred design approach. Their business model is based on the goal to help anyone belong anywhere. They understood two core user problems; people found it difficult to search for unique or specific travel destinations, and property owners found it difficult to market their properties. They have built a diverse, inclusive community or hosts and travellers so that everyone can find what they’re looking for. And, the human-centred approach filters down to every level of the business. The user experience is simple with easy-to-use filters enabling users to search quickly and efficiently within their criteria. And the result of the human-centred approach, over 150 million users to date. 

  1. Spotify

Spotify is another great example of a company that spotted a user problem and designed its solution to solve it. Human-centred from the outset, Spotify realised that the way we purchased music was far from perfect. Previously, we had to buy individual songs or albums, and keen music lovers would have to spend a considerable amount to own everything they wanted. Spotify changed all of this by giving users access to millions of songs for the cost of a monthly subscription, making it easier and cheaper to listen to music. And, the human-centred approach doesn’t stop there. Features like Discover Weekly provide a highly-personalised service. The platform delivers highly-targeted music recommendations to over 100 million users and manages to hit the spot where previous platforms have failed. 

  1. Fitbit

The creation of products like Fitbit is unarguably human-centred. We used to have to try to estimate how many calories we burned in a day, which made it harder to motivate ourselves to keep moving. With fitness trackers, such as Fitbit, the challenge of tracking and maintaining fitness goals is met head-on. The product provides a long-term solution to its users, counting calories and urging them to get more exercise. Ultimately, the solution addresses one of the biggest challenges when it comes to exercise, changing a persons’ habits. With tools like setting personal goals, tracking and logging exercise and the opportunity to take on social fitness challenges, users are motivated and encouraged to keep going.

How Human-Centred Design Could Help Your Business

There is a lot to be gained from taking a human-centred approach to design. Ultimately, by understanding users and their problems, you are much more likely to create solutions that meet their needs. To create a product that is viable, desirable, useful and usable, taking a human-centred approach is fundamental. 

In summary, here are some of the lessons you can take from other companies who’ve embraced human-centred design:

  • Solve a real problem – by understanding a core user problem, you have much more chance of designing an effective solution. Whether you end up creating a better way to purchase music or a more realistic way to count calories, the key is understanding the issue in the first place.
  • Keep things simple – it can be tempting to use fancy features, but companies who have embraced a human-centred approach will more often lean towards simplicity. Focusing your efforts on facilitating the core task is far more important than unnecessary functionality. 
  • Engage your users – human-centred design doesn’t stop at understanding the problem you’re trying to solve, you then need to keep your users on board throughout. Helping them to stay motivated and engaged with your solution, whether it’s with helpful suggestions or gamification, will make a huge difference to its success. 
  • Deliver value – everyone values a product that saves them money. If you can find a way to create something that solves their problem more efficiently but costs them less, then you’ll be on to a winner. And value isn’t just about the cost; it is the ongoing benefits that your solution provides to improve your users’ quality of life. 
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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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