Gone are the days when design used to be about aesthetic execution, when the main focus was to get as much work out the door as possible so that there was more time for more work — when brands spoke down to their consumers instead of speaking to them.

Now most brands are waking up to the fact that we are living in an ever-changing, ever-growing, fast-paced world where the consumer has access to all kinds of information literally at their fingertips. And design plays a crucial part in the world we live in today. From the food we eat to the information we choose to consume online, design is everywhere.

Brands are cottoning on to the fact that their customers are more informed than ever before, and so big brands like Apple, Google, Uber, Airbnb, Facebook etc. are placing the consumer at the core of everything they do. This means that brands are now allowing their customers to decide on the type of content they want to consume and then designing for that. In the product design space this is so important — keeping the consumer at the center of everything that you do for a better experience.

Human-centered design is all about developing good relationships with your customer by delivering a high quality product that through prototyping and testing results in an emotional connection between the customer and the product.

                              Fig. 1 The human centered design pyramid (source: Giacomin, 2014)

Good design needs to be able to answer a set of key questions to facilitate this connection.

  • Who is the consumer?  Does the design reflect the user characteristics?
  • What are the consumers’ goals when using the product?
  • What is their experience when using the product?
  • What are the goals of using this specific product or service?
  • When and how does the consumer interact with the product design?
  • What do consumers think about the product or the design?
  • Why does the consumer want to use this product or design?
  • http://www.designorate.com/characteristics-of-human-centered-design/


Consumer feedback is key in ensuring that the design continually improves. And so, unlike before, the design process is never complete. Especially in the product design space, it is very important to keep iterating and making your product better with each iteration. Part of achieving that emotional connection with the product is about designing experiences as opposed to designing products.

The commonly used tools in building a human-centered approach are:

  • Personas;
  • Scenarios; and
  • Use cases.


Persona: This refers to creating fictional character that could potentially interact with your product. This usually includes their age, race, gender, location etc. Basically, it’s the target audience.

Scenarios: This would be the possible scenario of the persona using your product.

Use cases: This refers to the feedback gathered from the Persona through the Scenarios

It’s time that brands start immersing themselves in the worlds of their consumers if they want to remain relevant.


by James Mokhasi



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