Design Kit is an online learning platform with practical tips on applying human-centered design in any context. Designed by the company IDEO, it offers step-by-step guidance to put their methods into action. It offers an explanation of their "mindsets" and methods, and also offers many other resources.
“Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a process, one that requires a deep understanding of people. It starts with observations and then a rigorous attempt to use those observations to determine the true underlying issues and needs, a process that might be called "Problem Defining" (as opposed to problem solving). Then, these needs and issues are addressed through an iterative, evidence-based procedure of observation, ideation, prototyping, and testing, with each cycle of the iteration going deeper and deeper into the solution space. The result is a form of incremental innovation, optimizing the solution through a hill-climbing process” 
Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a creative approach that puts the audience at the center of the problem definition and solution design process. It seeks to understand an audience's lived experience through direct conversation, interviews, focus groups, and other avenues. The insights gathered are then used to co-create potential ideas, build and test prototypes, and take actoin. HCD sits at the intersection of empathy, research, and creativity. It requires implementers to put themselves in the users' shoes to arrive at solutions tailored to their needs.
An HCD process starts with a discovery phase where the empathy process begins. Members of program/design teams have to train their minds to avoid assumptions and approach the problem with a fresh mind, like that of a child, who knows nothing, who learns everything, who questions everything.
The more time that teams spend with the audiences with whom they are designing, the more likely they are to design a solution that is useful. HCD is uniquely situated to arrive at solutions that are desirable, feasible, and viable. In the implementation process, factors of economic and technological viability should be evaluated, but everything should start with the people, not the other way around.
The discovery phase generates insights; those insights are used to identify possible opportunity spaces. Teams consider those opportunities spaces through "how might we" questions to generate a wide variety of ideas for possible solutions. Once the real challenges of the audience are uncovered, the team moves on to generate potential solutions for the design challenge (“how might we”). This is the define and test phase of the process. Since in complex contexts there is no single expert who can comprehend all facets of a design challenge, co-design is an approach to designing that actively engages multiple and diverse perspectives in the design process, to ensure that the end result meets their needs. Rather than consulting users and subject experts on ideas developed, they are involved in developing them.
Those ideas are then mapped against each other and further developed into prototypes which can be tested directly with users. These prototypes or rough mock-ups of potential solutions are put in the hands of end users to see how they work (or don't). Prototypes are then continually improved based on feedback, or thrown out if they simply do not work. This allows the team to make mistakes faster and cheaper, arriving at a feasible solution.
Norman, Donald. 2013. The Future of Design: When you come to a fork in the road, take it. Jnd.org
- Bassano, Alessandra N., et al. 2017. Human-centred design in global health: A scoping review of applications and contexts.
- Dweck, Talia. 2017. Human-centered design for behavior change in health. DAI.com
- Edwards, Sophie. November 14, 2018. Safeguarding adolescents when using HCD in family planning. Devex.com.
- Partners in Health. 2017. Human-Centered Design in the Jungle: Nurses inspire, ideate, and implement better health care in remote Liberia
- Russell, Elizabeth and Emily Harris. 2017. "But what if it falls out?" Using human-centered design to answer questions about the Davipirine ring. USAID.gov
- Thomsen, Dave. 2013. Why human-centered design matters. Wired.com
Photo credits: Breakthrough-ACTION
This video explains the basics of human-centered design - that is, keeping in mind at all times the people the program is trying to reach while designing the program structure and messages.
This guide describes the organization IDEO's human-centered design process with the key mindsets that underpin how and why they think about design for the social sector, 57 clear-to-use design methods for new and experienced practitioners, and from-the-field case studies of human-centered design in action.
In this course the student will learn about the basics of human-centered design (HCD) and how to use it in practical behavior change situations/programs. The course is free, lasts 9 weeks, and takes place at different times during the year.
This is a step-by-step guide to ntroduce new learners to human-centered design (HCD). Building on the moderate to deep experience with HCD and workshop facilitation, the user will learn to plan and lead a one-day, hands-on introductory workshop for 5 to 20 people who have little to no knowledge of HCD.
This short video describes a process whereby learning from an audience can help one design a better behavior change effort.
This brief video explains four elements of design that work together in human-centered design: Intent, Experience, Expertise, and Design. The speaker explains how these elements work together for results on program design.
This video explains the theory of co-design, which involves including the audience for which a program is intended in the design of that program.
The 18F Method Cards are a collection of tools that describe how teams put human-centered design into practice. They are accompanied by simplified instructions to help organizations and government offices adopt human-centered design into their own projects.
This is a brief introduction to why design methods can be useful when developing services.
This compilation is intended as an active toolkit to support design thinking practice. The guide is not just to read , but is intended to encourage the reader to try these tools in the field and improve the toolkit by adding to it.
Interviews are a core component of the human-centered design process. This blog posts details some steps to take to help capture the best data possible when conducting interviews.
This article describes empathy as the first step in human-centered development. In a general sense, empathy is our ability to see the world through other people's eyes, to see what they see, feel what they feel, and experience things as they do.
This is a collection of templates and tools to utilize when conducted human-centered design.
This toolkit is a set of activities and methods that enables groups of people anywhere to organize, collaborate, and create solutions for problems affecting their community.
Prototyping is a process in program design which involves producing an early, inexpensive, and scaled down version of the product or service in order to reveal any problems with the current design. Prototyping offers designers the opportunity to bring their ideas to life, test the practicability of the current design, and to potentially investigate how a sample of users think and feel about a product.
This article is about using empathy to improve the designs of programs and materials.
This site provides six important tips to ue when prototyping a service. Prototyping is the creation of a model of what a design will look like in order to test its workability. It is such a powerful tool because a team can organize a service around the needs of the end consumer.
Batela Lobi Na Yo, meaning “Protect Your Future” in the language of Lingala, the local language in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The campaign was designed to inspire and inform young people on how to own their sexual health, and to provide them with new information that highlighted the existence—and efficacy—of contraception.
A teens-only approach to contraception is getting girls the services they need to make the choices that are right for them.
This page on the IDEO site lists several case studies in which country projects used Human-Centered Design (HCD) to change behavior.
This video shows the process of human centered design focusing on religious leaders, and how the inspiration phase led to prototyping the SARARI project in Niger. The process involved three components to engage religious leaders in discussions on SRH and FP.
This case study covers a project in Kenya to understand the latent motivators, decision-making pathways, and behavioral norms that can be optimized for HIV prevention among female sex workers (FSWs).
This case study describes a pilot project in Cote d'Ivoire which promotes HIV self-testing via barbershops. Preliminary human-centered-based research resulted in a finding that barbershops were a key gathering point for men in Côte D’Ivoire. The HIV self testing promotions were also communicated via religious leaders and social media.
Since 2015, Liberia has been rebuilding the country’s health system, which was devastated by a civil war that ended in 2003 and again by the Ebola epidemic that ended in 2015. But improvements in the remote clinics are a ways off.
With a national HIV prevalence rate estimated at 4.7%, Côte d’Ivoire is the most affected country in West Africa where the HIV/AIDS pandemic has risen since 1985, when the first cases were discovered. The impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is such that it represents the first cause of death for men and the second for women.
This is a case study of a team that designed an environment and game to help children who need to undergo tests using medical diagnostic machines that seemed frightening to them. The team created an environment that was fun and lighthearted, using human-centered design to do their research.
This video walks the view through a hospital and offers "bubbles" of information over the heads of hsopital staff, family members and patients so that the medical professionals get a better idea of their fears, thoughts, and hopes. It was shown by the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic to a general meeting of staff in 2013.
The pineapple is the mascot for Tanzania's Kuwa Mjanja (Be Smart) movement, carried out by PSI's Adolescents 360 Project (A360). The Adolescents 360 project is working to revolutionize the way adolescent girls access contraceptives in Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. The pineapple was chosen as the mascot because "they stand tall—they are proud! They wear a crown, like a queen who knows her worth and demands respect. And even though they are tough on the outside, they are beautiful and sweet on the inside."