Human centred design is for humans

A man in a blue shirt is wearing virtual reality goggles and is holding a controller in his hand. This is part of exploring Human centred design Almost all designing is done for human use. Even designs for animals and plants link back to human use or human benefit in one way or another. So based on that premise, all design is human centred design. Well, that is one way to define it. 

In the world of technology the key question for human centred design approach is, what are people doing? Not, what can the technology do? Dr Peter Schumacher reminds us in a video below that humans were creating things for themselves in the Stone Age. However, digital technology isn’t crafted by hand like a stone axe where the maker is often the user. With artificial intelligence, technology can do amazing things. But are they the things that humans want?

Based on the Stone Age definition, Schumacher says human centred design is something we’ve been doing forever. From the moment we could, we’ve been making things we could use. We were creating technology for a purpose, for something we wanted to do. But technology, and the way we interact with it, is getting more complicated.

We are at a point where technology and the environment we live in is creating problems. Schumacher says that finding out what’s going on with humans and their relationship to technology is the key focus. It’s putting human back into the centre of the technology rather than saying what the technology can do.

So, you start with the question, “what are people doing?” This is followed by “what does the technology need to do in that context?” Then there is the question of what’s the right technology?

Human Centred Design Group

The Human Centred Design Lab at University of South Australia is focused on developing methods for the design of objects, environments, and systems for human use. They take a collaborative and trans-disciplinary approach to create products for human use. The Human Centred Design Group is a research centre for interactive and virtual environments. The video below explains a bit more and they invite other collaborators.

Also see their Design Clinic brings together researchers, industry and end users for co-design in healthcare. The Design Clinic can capture ideas and designs for new products, systems and services vital to the health and wellbeing sectors.