Human-Centered Design

‘Perhaps as the millennium draws precariously to its close it will also provide the stimulus to look creatively at information design and so structure our systems as to enhance and celebrate the most precious asset of any society, which is the skill, ingenuity, creativity, imagination, and commitment of its people.’ (Cooley, pg 61)

Humans designing and designing for humans

Being intuitive, I often wondered what was the inspiration behind one of my ideas or designs. I got a hint as to how to go about examining this from Cooley’s statement, ‘The notion of design arose during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Europe and connoted the separation of thinking and doing.’ (Cooley, 59) This led me to the following conclusion about Human-Centered design. Human-Centered Design acknowledges the truth of the Polanyi notion ‘There are things we know but cannot tell,’ (1962) that design and human intelligence is intuitive. Therefore, the first aspect of Human-Centered design is to lead intuitive designers to a greater self-awareness of the decisions that inspire their designs. The second aspect, equally important is a real understanding of user.  It advocates incorporating the human element of the user into the existing rule-based core of design. This process can produce design that is intuitive, examined and truly functional.

The Unscientific Human Asset

‘Frequently, the big issues in society are prefigured by our poets and our artists, and we diminish ourselves as engineers and scientists if we do not interact with them in a multidisciplinary way.’ (Cooley, 76)

Cooley’s Human-Centered System focuses on human beings as assets – assets that are inherently non-scientific. (Dertouzos et al. 1989) If that is the case, why design products for unscientific beings scientifically? (Cooley pg 66) Introducing the human factor into science can increase the value of many of the processes. This focus would truly generate positive change for society.(ibid)

Human-Centered Systems

Human-Centered Systems require two basic components 1. proficiency at whatever technology a project calls for (rule-based core) 2. design that applies the following 9 key characteristics – coherence, inclusiveness, malleability, engagement, ownership, responsiveness, purpose, panoramic, and transcendence.

I have and will continue to gather all blog addresses and order them according to the four design theories. I feel this will help with coherence and inclusiveness. This should also help in the event the blog address is posted in the post heading and therefore difficult to access. This function addresses responsiveness. Each classmate that visits has the option to choose which blogs to comment on based on the design theory that interests them – malleability.

Please post feedback and let me know if this idea works for you of if you have other notions to make this blog more Human-Centered Systems friendly.

PROS of Human-Centered Systems

A pro of Human-Centered System can be illustrated by the following link

Although this focuses on education, Human-Centered Systems is all about fitting the process to the user and not vice versa.

The Khan Academy

This video that indicates how education can be tailored to meet all students need. This is a must for anyone who ever had trouble learning math or has children in grade school!

CONS Human-Centered Systems

The multi-faceted complexities of users make it difficult to design information that is easily understood by multiple people, at the same time.

What do you think the pros and cons of Human-Centered Design are?


Jacobson, R. (1999). Information Design. Massachusetts: MIT Press.


7 thoughts on “Human-Centered Design

  1. Well, Shayna, two things really jump out at me about this blog, unfortunately neither one relates to the subject matter. Information wise, I liked the blog.

    While I can appreciate a repository for all the course related blogs, I believe that is what the module sections are for, and honestly, that’s the first place I would assume the students in this course are going to go for that info.

    That leads to my second point, without getting the address for this blog in that coursework section, I would have no idea who posted this or what to use as a name to address you with. Honestly, when I received the request to approve your comment on my blog, I junked it as I had no idea who it was. (Unfortunately, dsin 2 n4m reminded me of a name of a droid in Star Wars.) You may want to correct that.

    Scott G.

  2. Your content is rich; containing pertinent and educational information. Great stuff!
    In your “Humans designing and designing for humans” section, I found myself thinking deep thoughts! How profound these statements are. I always wondered if intuition could be measured. Hopefully, all humans are born with the same “potential”. If your brain is functional, it should work just as well as anyone else’s. Right? It seems fair, but fair doesn’t make it true I suppose.
    It is great that some designers are just “born with a gift”, but I would also like to think that everyone has something to offer when it comes to human centered design. If socially intelligent, could someone design something based on objectivity without the aid of intuition? Personally, I hope I have that ability… although I wonder sometimes if I have any at all. Maybe there is differences between intuition and “having a gift” that I need to examine further.
    Thanks to your post, I now better understand Cooley’s position on the importance of science in the development of design. It is difficult for anyone to argue against the benefits of science. Look at the amount of information the average person deals with in a day compared to one-hundred years ago!
    I really appreciate your insight on the limitations of human-centered design. It is “natural” to have differences in opinion. In my opinion, finding a suitable arrangement that the masses find acceptable is an art. Some would argue it is a science. All good stuff! How boring would it be if we all thought the same way? However, it is important to note that many issues need to be collectively agreed upon, otherwise things can get a bit “frustrating”.
    The video is very interesting. It is nice to know that you can get a free education somewhere. Offering a student a learning tool that allows them to control their own pace seems very affective. Do we dare try it in our public schools? We often fear what we do not understand. With that being said, I would not oppose.
    I did see the correlation between the education delivery and the science behind it. You have to wonder if the “old” model is getting it done. A teacher tailoring their lecture to ensure a “one way” conversation does not seem conducive to an efficient learning environment. Perhaps the old system is the reason why so many kids would rather be doing something else.

  3. Hi Shayna;

    I think your inclusion of the links to everyone’s blog and the arrangement by theory was very original and clever. I think you tied into the theory you chose and it is an excellent way to incorporate the theory you shoes into your design. I understand Scott’s comment-that he would not look for the blogs of others on your blog site. I probably would not either, but I did go look at them from your blog by theory. I think that provided an interesting, easy categorization. In looking at your blog for use of your selected theory, I think the links you categorized was an exemplary way to show the function of the theory. I also liked your use of dsin 2 n4m. Again, I thought this was very clever and creative.

    I liked your use of red headings and the words you bolded within the blog post. It was easy to read from one section to another. The color choice you used made the blog easy to read as well, and it was a simple, clear design. The design of the section of links to the class posts is the same color and I thought it would stand out more if it were some other color, even a light shade. The blog is neat and clear, but I guess I like something that draws my attention more into the content and provides something for the eye to settle or focus on.

    Did you left justify the quote in two sections for a specific reason? It is hard to read that way as it does not provide a natural flow to the text. Maybe if the font was a different color it would help. Also, you use the heading “9 Key Characteristics” and you only talk about four of them. I see that you have the nine listed in the section above. I also tough this was a little out-of-place, “Although blogging doesn’t seem the optimal media for Human-Centered Systems Design, I will try to implement as many of these concepts as possible over the course of this term.” Maybe it is better to put that on the right side before recent posts. If you moved it, I think the blog post would flow better. Then you can remove the heading-9 key characteristics-and it all would flow in a more straightforward manner. I don’t mean to redesign your work for you though-just my thoughts.

    I felt this sentence was a little confusing, “A con I can see for Human-Centered Systems is since human being are so complex, non-scientific and varied, there are so many different types of people who need to understand the design and function within it.” I understood the point, but there might be a better way to state that. I also don’t think you need to reintroduce that you are stating a con for the Human-Centered design in the sentence since the heading does that. Perhaps, something like, “The multi-faceted complexities of users make it difficult to design information that is easily understood by multiple people, at the same time.” I liked your use of questions to support the statement.

    Overall, I thought the blog was very creative and unique.

    Lisa Pimpinella

    • Dear Lisa,
      Thank you for your thought-out, helpful and nice comments!
      The point of posting the class links was purely for HCD purposes, if people find them helpful and use them, well, that will prove an added benefit:)
      As is integral to HCD I will implement your suggestions. Do they improve the blog?
      Thanks again for your comments and suggestions!

  4. The approach of your blog is very straight forward and you know going into it what you will be reading about. You links to all the class blogs is very helpful and very interactive. I think that you handle the topic of HCD very professionally and the information you present is very spot on. Your research and references helped in presenting the topic in a very understandable matter. I think that your video link was outstanding as a way to help people understand what HCD is about.
    Your lay out of your blog is very well done, it makes for easy reading and the format is perfect so that people can know exactly what you are talking about. Your font choices and sizes are good and in genreal the layout and appearance of your blog make for an enjoyable read.
    I have one small criticisms/suggestion. First of all I think your academic information is spot on as I have said before but your presentation on the subject seems very formal. The one thing about HCD that i took away it is very fluid and flexible or to use a word you used intuitive. The way you present it though it is not any of those things and i might suggest trying to take that approach to HCD as you talk about it. Otheriwse you have given us a great blog, with a great look into HCD and its helped me to understand the topic a little but better.

    William Sanger

    • Dear William,
      Thank you for your comments! I’m glad my post was helpful:)
      Sometimes I do get to formal when I introduce a concept I am excited about that I feel is important. I will try to see if I can introduce some informality to the post. I’ll send you a link when I do and I’d love to hear your updated comments.
      Thank you again!

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