From another point of view

Opportunities in using a human-centered approach in the design field

Maïla Wyssmüller
4 min readJan 22, 2018


Change is the only constant

Society is volatile and complex. Globalisation, the prominence of technology and the flow of information dictate the importance of embracing change in any enterprise (Jeff Davidson, n.d.). Businesses have to adapt themselves to the actual situation and cannot rest on their laurels. Innovation and customer-centricity are becoming crucial in the design field. Organisation systems, linear thinking and incremental changes tend to limit creativity. Furthermore, businesses and processes might need to be adapted in order to become more flexible and respond to clients’ and employees’ needs. Therefore, organisations in the design field might consider other approaches to solve such holistic challenges and to run a business in a human perspective.

Missing the essence

Humans are not robots and they should not be put in boxes. Even though people may live in groups for a certain purpose (e.g. community, sport clubs, business company, etc.), each person is an individual with his own body, his own mind and his own life (Craig Biddle, 2014). Standardisation and lack of empathy are issues in the society. The need of being able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes is prominent (Catherine Conroy, 2017). Especially in the design field, considering human needs is crucial. Omitting human factors might prejudice the outcome of a design process but also the welfare of a business. Therefore, the necessity to put the human at the core of organisations and realisations is even more critical nowadays.

Mindset over strategy

The aim of human-centrictiy design is to create a product or service tailored to its end user. If the goal is to create something user-friendly for everyone, it will probably end up user-friendly for no one. It is thinking about adequacy of the person to whom the idea is conveyed.

“People ignore design that ignores people” (Frank Chimero, 2012)

Furthermore, human-centricity goes beyond processes, products or services. Companies considering such an approach within their own organisation do not only have an impact on their customers but also on their employees and wider community (Simon Berglung, 2016).

“I truly believe that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.” (Richard Branson, 2015)

Thus, managers should not minimise their employees’ needs and motivations for the welfare and the sake of the company.

Better fit

Whereas other industries are more analytical, numbers and process driven, the final goal of design is the creation of something for a human being. Therefore, the challenge lies very much on accomplishing a goal by the manifest of the end-user. While aestheticism and functionality also necessitates to be considered, the process cannot be linear and binary in the design field. Whereas some design companies try to produce solutions as fast as possible in order to gain more profits, the main question remains on what is the right thing to do. The answer usually stands in the mission of the company, its vision and its values. If the company targets experience, innovation, human satisfaction or sustainable solutions, then they might preferably do business in a more synthetic and iterative way with a focus on human needs.

Cherry on the cake

Caring about people considering their own lives and tastes leads to a high quality outcome and a greater user experience. Thus, the right “thing” is created instead of building “it” right.

“Life’s too short to build something nobody wants” (Ash Maurya, 2012)

It is important to define the target (who) and the goal (when, where, what, how, and why) in a common language then. This scale functions as an indicator, a help to clarify the priorities but also encourages for continuous improvements. When having defined such measures for the purpose, the “rightness” of the future outcome is shared within the team. As a result, it leads to success in the team and business.

From a business point of view, human-centricity might be hard to sell. However, it is proved that there are long-term financial as well as social-impact benefits. It allows companies to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving industry and increases customer loyalty. Furthermore, overall schedule and costs can be reduced by between 20% and 25% (Mario Sakata, 2015). Costs are reduced on redesigning and redeveloping features. The risk of failure is reduced and productivity is increased as the time is invested in what user wants and not on unnecessary things or features (Apiumhub, 2017).

In a nutshell

Aesthetics and technology are not enough for the long run. Designing a product or a service tailored to the target with a holistic and memorable experience is the ultimate ambition for any company in the design field. Human-centricity is a great opportunity to accomplish this purpose.



Maïla Wyssmüller

When I have the mental capacity, I enjoy reflecting and digging deeper into subjects that are close to my heart.