What is HCD?

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a methodology used to create innovative and meaningful products and services by gathering insights and data relevant to internal and external stakeholders and the environment in which the solution will be experienced.

HCD supports decision-makers in their effort to overcome cost and time constraints. Practitioners of the methodology do this by moving the team beyond documenting, empowering them to rapidly research and develop better solutions.

Why develop a culture of HCD? There are many reasons companies employ an HCD approach from the very beginning of an initiative and throughout the execution of the design, development, and delivery. It is most common for companies to use HCD to maximize ROI when solving for a complex problem. As seen in the Design Management Institute’s 2015 Design Value Index (DVI),

design-led companies have maintained significant advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 211% between 2005 and 2015.

How is this accomplished?

  • Build advocacy for a clear solution
  • Consider the human, or end-user needs
  • Account for practical concerns
  • Proactively identify setbacks and pitfalls

How do practitioners and teams measure success?

  • Reduce the amount of high cost, reactive spending
  • Reduce the amount effort spent redoing completed work
  • Increase team understanding of challenges and opportunities
  • Increase the amount of focus given to delivering the best solutions for their customers in the most efficient ways

Adopters of HCD include Fortune 500 companies in the following sectors. 

  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Human Resources
  • Retail Experiences
  • Social/Public Good
  • Sales & Marketing

What does HCD look like? Generally, a company will introduce HCD to a small pilot team of approximately nine people. Selected participants must represent decision-makers as well as a mix of individuals who will execute and implement the final plan. 

Collaborative workshop participants may participate in:

  • Identifying and analyzing the audiences needed to make their initiative successful as well as what motivates that audience
  • Prototyping relevant solutions and exploring alternative iterations   
  • Creating consensus on a clear path forward for the team

Two steps to get an organization get started with HCD

First make a case for HCD: the methodology may align stakeholders, increase the velocity of a team and lead to better results. However, it requires the team’s participation and partnership. Building a solid case for HCD can convince people to participate.  One way we have found to make the case is to do the math below from Dr. Susan Weinschenk’s white paper Usability: A Business Case , which outlines three useful equations for calculating how much an organization is spending on errors, rework, and inefficiency. Often, we find that the reality of the sum of these numbers is enough to begin a dialog about how to solve the problem.

  • Errors

    • (# of errors) x (avg. repair time) x (employee cost) x (# of employees) = cost savings

      • Example: (2 errors/week) x (60 mins) x ($30/hour) x (100 employees) = $6,0000/week or $300,000/year

  • Cost of Development and Maintenance

    • (# of changes) x (avg. hrs/change) x (cost of developer) x (4, if late) = cost savings

      • Example: (20 changes) x (8 hrs each) x ($40/hour) = $6,400 if fixed early or $25,600 if changed late

  • Productivity

    • (time saved) x (employee cost) x (# of employees) = cost savings

      • Example: (1 hr/week) x ($30/hr) x (1000 employees) = $30,000/ week or $15,000,000/year

Increasingly, Fortune 500 companies are utilizing HCD methodology to build efficiency into their innovation efforts. The methodology represents an efficient, low-cost way for large companies to expedite innovation efforts and compete in a global high tech economy. For more information on how HelloNimble may support in amplifying innovation efforts, please contact hello@hellonimble.com.







Adam Hoffmann