IDEO defines human centered design as a “creative approach to problem solving that starts with people and ends with innovative solutions tailor-made to suit their needs.” I quite like this definition because it highlights an important aspect of this type of problem solving, which is that it’s not a one-size-fits all approach; it’s about providing solutions that are specific to that problem or addressing a specific need or want.
Today, human centered design has become even more important because consumers have many options when it comes to where and how they shop. We are living in the time of the individual; people have accounts on multiple platforms where they share their thoughts, ideas and experiences. Consumers know what they want and they’re not afraid of voicing it or moving to a company that can deliver just that.
Human centered design won’t produce the best results if the designer or product developer is removed from the situation or if the solution is reached using a top-down approach, by people who don’t understand the many variables involved. This means paying attention to customer complaints and feedback, almost anticipating the consumers needs or wants and being aware of the social, cultural and political landscape. A great example of this type of design is Mukuru, which is a means of sending money to different countries; the platform exists due to the difficulties that African migrants experience when trying to send or receive money. Users have to sign up to join the platform and once they’ve signed on, then they can make use of one of the many options for sending and receiving money that are available to them. Mukuru continues to delight consumers and cater to their needs by expanding their offering and allowing users to send money using Whatsapp. This is an example of innovative thinking and thinking that is centered around the user because they’ve found another way to make using their services easier for consumers.
As consumers and marketers we find ourselves in an interesting space where human centric design and experience are essential in order for brands to delight consumers and differentiate themselves from competitors. When getting started with human centered design to shape how consumers experience the brand, you have to understand the needs and wants of consumers. People desire convenience, ease when shopping and an interface that’s easy to understand and use. The brand experience has to be stellar both online and offline. An example of a brand that’s consistent both online and IRL is the skincare brand, Glossier. Glossier was founded by The Hills star Emily Weiss; the brand evolved from her blog Into The Gloss to become one of the most disruptive beauty brands in existence. Glossier has created a community around the brand and it’s products, treating consumers like contributors and beauty experts. Their connection with their community influences product development and brand experience, through packaging, the store, social media and website. Their Instagram account is a gallery of images of dewy skinned women and men, Glossier products, and everything keeps to the Glossier colour palette of pastels, nudes and a pop of gold now and then.Glossier keeps it’s consistency by providing consumers with a great brand experience at their stores in New York City and Los Angeles; the space personifies the brand, with products beautifully displayed, a gorgeous interior that makes use of the brand colours, stations where visitors can try samples, mirrors with the words “You look good” written on them, lots of flowers and every part of their stores is Instragrammable, because the Glossier team understands that sharing is part of how their consumers experience the brand.
Glossier works because the products themselves were created out of a desire in the market place for a beauty brand that’s based in self-care and not full coverage; their content-led marketing strategy showcases their products on the consumer, users feel part of the brand when their snaps make it onto Glossier’s timeline, they pay attention through comments and feedback from clients through a group on Slack, encourage DMs and maintain their effortless chic perfection both online and offline. The Glossier team’s customer-centric approach is why they’ve been able to grow steadily, maintain the love and trust of their current consumers and attract new ones.
What I love about this two entities is how they’ve managed to give consumers products and experiences that place consumers at the heart and have created infrastructures that allow them to continue to provide consumers with a consistent and specific brand experience.