Prioritizing People: Crafting Human-Centered Design in Technology

May 17, 2024

Every day, millions of people around the world are affected — sometimes inundated — by digital experiences. These experiences that are now so ingrained in our days have the power to improve our lives for the better…or make them infinitely more frustrating. A bad user experience can drive even the sanest of us crazy and make us want to throw our devices out a window. In fact, a 2022 survey from Telus International found that nearly 60 percent of customers would rather be stuck in traffic over having a bad user experience. The preference to endure bad traffic over a bad user experience demonstrates the importance of thoughtful design. This is where human-centered design enters the chat. When we, as product designers and strategists, approach building with empathy and the human experience in mind, we create more intuitive, satisfying experiences for our customers.

Human-centered design, at its core, is an approach to problem-solving that prioritizes truly understanding a user’s needs and wants. By focusing on the human perspective throughout the entire product development cycle, human-centered design ensures the products we build are not only technically viable but also deeply meaningful to the people who use them. Our industry and the tech we use are ever-evolving — which is why it is so important that business leaders understand that incorporating these methodologies into their practices will not only be critical in maintaining market relevance but will also increase operational efficiency and, most importantly, will increase their ROI by improving user satisfaction and loyalty.

The Business Case for Design Thinking in Tech

Before we get into the nitty gritty of statistics and business cases, it is important to understand the human-centered design principles that go into product strategy and development:

Empathy: Understanding the needs, experiences, and emotions of the people for whom you are designing.

Define the Problem: Clearly articulate the problem you are trying to solve, focusing on user needs rather than business requirements.

Ideate: Generate a wide range of ideas and solutions through brainstorming and creative thinking.

Prototype: Create simple, experimental models of proposed solutions to investigate the ideas you've generated.

Test: Rigorously test the prototypes with real users to gather feedback and refine the solutions.

Iterate: Continuously refine and enhance the solution based on user feedback and testing outcomes.

Inclusivity: Design processes and solutions that are inclusive and accessible to as many people as possible.

There is no doubt that when companies take the time to incorporate these methodologies into their processes, they outscore their competitors in a number of areas. One example of this is a study by the Design Management Institute, which found that design-driven companies outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over ten years, suggesting that companies investing in human-centered design achieve significant financial returns (1).

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Design thinking not only has been proven to boost ROI considerably, another area of impact is serving as a fail-safe against post-release errors that could have been caught during the design phase, substantially decreasing expenses incurred from those errors(2).

(2) The System Sciences Institute at IBM has reported that the cost of correcting an error after product release can be four to five times as much as fixing it during the design phase, and up to 100 times more expensive if identified in the maintenance phase. (Human-centered design helps identify and solve usability issues early in the design process, significantly reducing these costs).

When companies invest in including these processes into their business strategy, the returns are clearly vast, allowing teams to greatly increase their return on investment and keep companies from making costly post-production mistakes.

Leveraging Human-Centered Design for Competitive Edge

As mentioned previously, the core philosophy of human-centered design is prioritizing the understanding of our users’ needs, and meeting the user where they are to make their lives better. As designers, we do this by empathizing with the users’ needs, and fully putting ourselves in their shoes. Taking the time to engage in proper discovery and research within an engagement allows us to make decisions based on facts and data, alleviating the risk of making decisions that would not resonate with our target demographic. When companies activate this type of thinking and are able to create products that deeply resonate with their audience, they establish a strong connection, leading their customers to more likely to become loyal advocates for their brand. In a market that is flooded by digital products, standing out and having brand advocates is something that can really set a business apart from the rest. Apple is a great example of this. The foundation of Apple’s design ethos is a user-centric approach where the process “begins and ends with the user; understanding user needs, behaviors, and desires is paramount”. And as we know, Apple customers are loyal. In fact, Apple held the number 1 spot for most loyal customers in 2023. Apple’s continued innovation into engaging apps, content, and transformative experiences centered around human-centered design has led them to hold over 60% of the mobile phone market share in the US, and more than 28% globally. This loyalty translates into ongoing business benefits, such as reduced customer acquisition costs and increased lifetime value (3).

(3) A study by the Oxford Journal Interacting with Computers indicates that user-centered design practices can increase user satisfaction by up to 20%.

The numbers have shown time and time again that leveraging human-centered design leads to enhanced brand reputations, which can provide a significant competitive edge while strengthening overall market positioning.

Case Studies: Transformative Success Through Design Thinking

Our product design team orchestrated a redesign and migration project for RTD, Denver's metro transit agency, seamlessly transitioning their customer-facing website from an outdated structure to a headless CMS, with the customer experience as our main focus. Through human-centric design, we drove heightened engagement levels among RTD customers. Following the launch, there was a 15% decrease in users bouncing off the site, a 40% increase in page views, and a 30% improvement in page load speed compared to pre-launch metrics. Customers see transit updates sooner, and utilize the site more to get to their next destination.

Check out the full case study,here.

Our Approach to Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design

At Nearform Commerce, we specialize in merging human-centered design thinking into the strategic framework of technology product development. Our methodology centers on understanding our users’ needs and experiences from the outset. By conducting thorough user research, we gain deep insights into customer motivations, pain points, and ways to improve their everyday lives. We facilitate workshops and training sessions tailored to each client's specific needs, fostering an internal culture that embraces continuous learning and user-focused innovation. Our expertise in iterative design and prototyping ensures our clients’ products are continuously refined and aligned with ever-evolving user expectations. With a track record that includes collaboration with industry giants and innovative startups alike, we have consistently demonstrated our ability to enhance user engagement and satisfaction, boosting our clients' competitive advantage. By integrating our proven strategies, your business will not only accelerate innovation cycles but also achieve market differentiation that drives sustainable growth and market leadership.

Discover how Nearform_Commerce can elevate your product offerings and business performance through human-centered design to drive growth. Prioritize your people, connect with our team.

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