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Human-Centred Design: 9 Examples To Justify Why It Matters


Human-centred design focuses on people's needs in the design process. It’s an important approach that helps products and services meet real human demands and deliver user-friendly solutions. 

In this article, we’ll present nine real-world examples to show the significance of human-centred design. At RCCO, we incorporate these design philosophies into our branding services to craft brands that resonate with their audience. 

Get ready to explore how human-centred design shapes our world. 

What is Human-Centred Design?

Human-centred design is a creative approach that promotes empathy and understanding to create solutions tailored to people's needs. 

Human-centred design revolves around a few key principles: 

  • Empathy for users: Understand the users' needs, experiences, and motivations.
  • Defining the problem: Identify the problem you want to solve from the user's perspective.
  • Ideation and creativity: Generate a wide range of ideas and solutions.
  • Prototyping: Create early versions of solutions to explore and test ideas.
  • User feedback: Gather and integrate feedback from users.
  • Iterative process: Refine solutions based on user input and testing.
  • Holistic view: Consider the entire user experience, not just the product or service.
  • Collaborative design: Involve users, designers, and other stakeholders in the design process.

Marta Croce, our Digital Design Lead, describes human-centred design as a mindset, saying, 

“You should constantly be thinking about people's environment. Not people as individuals, but people as their demographic and their behaviours, what tools they already use, how they use them. This should influence your work and therefore your designs.” 

Designing around people helps you create a brand identity and strategy that resonates more with users to help your business grow even further. 

What is the Importance of Human-Centred Design?


Human-centred design can transform industries. 

This design philosophy is all about creating products and services that serve users. No matter the industry, this focus leads to better, more functional designs tailored to human needs, cultures, and societies.

A practical plus? It saves costs. With iteration being a key part of this process, it becomes easier to spot and fix design flaws quickly, avoiding late-stage hassles. We apply this methodology in our brand strategy at RCCO. We blend human-centred principles into our tailored client strategies so that every part of the brand speaks to the user.

What Are the 5 Phases of Human-Centred Design?

Human-centred design unfolds across five essential phases, each contributing to developing user-centric products. These phases are:

  • User research: Discover what users need.
  • Problem framing: Define the challenge to tackle.
  • Ideate: Brainstorm creative solutions.
  • Create a prototype: Bring ideas to tangible form.
  • Test: Refine the solution based on real feedback.

Let’s explore them in more detail. 

1. User research

User research kicks off human-centred design. It's about getting into the users' shoes to understand their pain points through listening, understanding, and empathising. You can conduct interviews and surveys and observe behaviours. 

This phase uncovers the hidden gems of user insights. You can analyse this data to understand the problems better. The goal is to build a solid foundation for design decisions. This phase helps create the design journey that starts in the right direction and is grounded in real user experiences.

2. Problem framing

Problem framing is where clarity meets creativity in human-centred design. After gathering user insights, you define the real challenge. You need to turn raw data into a clear, focused problem statement. This phase is like setting a compass for the entire project. 

Ask yourself, "What specific issue are we solving?" 

You can use tools like empathy maps to distil user needs into a concise problem. This process helps the team focus on the right problems instead of focusing on vague, incomplete problem statements. With problem framing, you direct all future design efforts to align with user needs and project goals.

3. Ideate

Ideation is where creativity bursts onto the scene. It's a brainstorming stage where no idea is too bold or unconventional. Some of the ideation methods we use at RCCO include: 

  • Brainstorming sessions: Teams generate a wide array of ideas together.
  • Mind mapping: Visual tools connect different ideas, sparking new ones.
  • Sketching: Quick, visual concept development to explore various directions.
  • Role-playing: Acting out scenarios to discover unique solutions.

This phase lays a diverse foundation of ideas from which the best, most user-centric solutions can emerge. It's a crucial step for innovation that leads to a pool of creative solutions tailored to user needs.

4. Create a prototype

A prototype brings design ideas into the physical world, helping you visualise and refine design solutions. You have various methods and tools available to create a prototype, including:

  • Digital tools: Adobe XD, Sketch, and Figma for interactive digital prototypes.
  • 3D printing: For physical product prototypes to test form and function.
  • Paper prototypes: Low-fidelity models for quick and easy visualisation.

Creating a prototype in human-centred design achieves two main goals. It brings ideas into tangible forms for interaction and testing, and it helps gather crucial feedback from users. 

5. Test

Finally, it's time to put prototypes through their paces. At this stage, you engage with users and collect their feedback to gauge the prototype's performance. You can use various methods for this:

  • User interviews: Direct conversations provide in-depth insights.
  • Usability testing: Observing users interact with the prototype highlights usability issues.
  • Surveys and questionnaires: Gather broad feedback from a larger user group.
  • A/B testing: Comparing different versions to see which performs better.

This feedback helps you refine and perfect the product. This way, you create a product that meets user needs and expectations.

As our Digital Design Lead, Marta Croce, notes, without testing the user, it can't be human centred. 

“This is often a challenge as a lot of businesses don't always understand the importance nor want to pay for user testing. But it is so important to this process of human-centred design.”

Exploring 9 Examples of Human-Centred Design

Let’s explore nine real-world examples of human-centred design in this section. 

These cases show how effective and important this design approach is across different industries and applications.

1. Spotify


At its core, Spotify excels in tailoring the user experience to individual preferences. 

The platform's strength lies in its personalised recommendations and playlists, which adapt to user tastes and offer a unique listening experience for each person. 

Spotify's algorithm analyses listening habits to suggest new songs and artists. It's a dynamic process that evolves with the user's musical journey.

Features like 'Discover Weekly,' 'Release Radar,' and 'Daily Mix' are testaments to this commitment. They provide curated playlists that often feel handpicked. This focus on personalising the experience for individuals has positioned the company as a leader in digital music services.

With over 574 million users, Spotify's user-centric design approach is loved by users across the world and keeps them coming back for more. 

2. Fitbit


Fitbit focuses on enhancing health and fitness experiences for users. It tailors wearable devices and apps to meet various health and fitness needs. They track physical activities, track health metrics, and set personalised fitness goals.

Key features like step counting, sleep tracking, and heart rate monitoring make Fitbit devices more than fitness tools. They're personal health companions. The app provides insights and reports in an easy-to-follow manner, making health data understandable and actionable for users. It adapts to individual fitness levels and goals to offer a personalised experience. 

With over 120 million registered users, Fitbit's impact can’t be understated. Fitbit has created communities and helped individuals achieve fitness goals, improve sleep patterns, and identify health issues early. 

3. Turbo Tax


Turbo Tax serves as a notable example of human-centred design in financial software. It offers a user-friendly interface and step-by-step guidance to revolutionise difficult tax filing. 

TurboTax employs several effective tactics to transform tax filing from a daunting task to an enjoyable experience:

  • Goal-oriented messaging: TurboTax's copy focuses on the user's goal of getting a maximum refund. 
  • Personalised onboarding: The platform uses self-segmentation before account creation. 
  • Automated data entry: TurboTax syncs with popular payroll providers and allows users to upload W-2 forms directly.
  • Workflow segmentation: The platform breaks tasks into manageable sections with checkpoints that set clear expectations for the upcoming steps.
  • Progress indicators: Users see real-time updates on potential tax breaks and the status of their tax returns. 
  • Celebrating success: Users receive a congratulatory message after completing taxes, enhancing the sense of achievement.
  • Attention to detail: Contextual FAQs, early pre-signing options, and real-time password strength feedback enhance the user experience.

The user-focused design approach simplifies the complex process and makes a complex task far more accessible to the average person.

4. Venmo


Venmo infuses peer-to-peer payments with social interaction to revolutionise the process. This platform adds likes, friends, emojis, and more to turn simple money transfers into engaging social experiences. 

Here’s why Venmo gained immense popularity across the US:

  • Payment tagging: Users tag friends to add a personal touch to transactions.
  • Social feed: Allows users to share and view payments. It brings a social flair to finance.
  • Split bills: Users can split any bill (utilities, groceries, fun activity). 

With Venmo, you’ll find sending money as easy as updating a social status. It's about sharing life's moments, not dollars and cents. Friends use it for splitting bills, roommates for rent, and small businesses for its ease and social connectivity.

Venmo's impact shows in its user base. Over 78 million use the app, drawn to its functionality and the social connections it nurtures. The platform sees a growing user base and total transaction value going up yearly. 

5. Duolingo


Duolingo turns language learning into an adventure. This app makes mastering a new language engaging, accessible, and tailored to each user. Look at some of the key features of the app:

  • Switch languages without losing progress: Switch between languages like Chinese and German without losing streaks or crowns.
  • Unique language courses: Offers over 38 languages and a few rare languages, including High Valyrian and Klingon.
  • Placement test: Determine your level in a language with an initial test.
  • Rewards system: Earn Lingots, Crowns, and Streaks for completing lessons and challenges.
  • Simultaneous speaking and reading practice: Improve pronunciation and reading skills together.
  • Duolingo stories: Audio lessons in select languages for enhanced listening skills.
  • Duolingo podcast: Offers real-life conversation listening practice in Spanish and French.
  • Duolingo free version: Access over 38 languages and various skill-building exercises.

Duolingo's approach breaks down language barriers to make learning fun and interactive – and it works. Duolingo boasts over 575 million users worldwide. Its popularity stems from its ability to make language learning educational and part of daily entertainment. 

6. Instacart


Instacart redefines grocery shopping with its user-centric and convenient approach. This platform transforms the chore of grocery shopping into a seamless online experience that saves valuable time for users. A few key features of the app include:

  • Personalised recommendations: Offers tailored suggestions based on shopping history.
  • Flexible delivery options: Users choose delivery times that suit their schedule.
  • Ease of use: Simplifies the entire process from selection to delivery.

Instacart valuation reached over 10 billion dollars and continues to grow. The business serves 13.7 active million users who value its convenience and time-saving benefits. This growth reflects how well Instacart meets the evolving needs of modern shoppers. It offers a smarter way to handle grocery shopping.

7. Uber


Who hasn't heard of Uber? It's a name that revolutionised the transportation industry and turned it on its head with a tap on a screen. The app offers unique features, including: 

  • Ride-sharing: Offers cost-effective, shared journeys.
  • Real-time tracking: Users see their ride's progress and arrival time.
  • Share status: Share trip details in real-time. Choose contacts to follow your journey via SMS link.
  • Split fare: Divide ride costs with up to three people. Simple in-app selection and text confirmation.
  • Multiple destinations: Add up to two extra stops during your ride. Easily managed in the app.
  • Scheduled rides: Book rides up to 30 days in advance. Editable and comes with reminders.
  • Calendar shortcuts: Sync your phone's calendar. Appointments with addresses automatically appear for easy ride requests.
  • Driver ratings: Ensures quality and safety through user feedback.

Uber prioritises user convenience, safety, and affordability. It's not just about getting from A to B; it's about a reliable, safe, and affordable journey. Uber's 68 to 74% market share speaks volumes about the kind of service they provide. 

Uber’s 25% share of the global ride-sharing market reflects its widespread user adoption. This success shows Uber's commitment to a user-centred transportation experience. 

8. Airbnb


Airbnb, a big name in the travel and accommodation industry, brings a personal touch to every journey. It connects travellers with unique stays to turn trips into memorable experiences. Look at the best features of Airbnb that show its dedication to a human-centred design approach:

  • Flexible options: Airbnb introduces flexible locations, matching, and dates.
  • Guest experience enhancements: Features like curated wishlists, faster checkouts, and comprehensive arrival guides enhance user convenience and accessibility.
  • Host experience simplification: New tools and processes make hosting more accessible, with a streamlined listing process, auto-filled details, and improved host resources.
  • Community support expansion: You can avail of support in 42 languages, with a doubled agent count and enhanced SuperHost authority. 
  • Unique stays discovery: Airbnb's new categories like 'Unique Homes in Nature' and 'Stays Near Points of Interest' encourage the exploration of unconventional accommodations.
  • Advanced search and navigation tools: Enhanced search filters, map features, and accessibility-focused options improve the ease of finding the perfect stay.
  • Safety and policy updates: Enhanced safety resources, localised emergency info, and a new policy hub underline Airbnb's focus on guest and host security.

Airbnb prioritises personal experiences over conventional hotel stays. Its emphasis on immersing guests in local cultures has contributed significantly to its success. As of December 2023, Airbnb boasts a market capitalisation of over $90 billion and over 150 million users – a testament to its global appeal.

9. Slack


Slack has revolutionised team collaboration as it placed human-centred design in workplace communication. This platform streamlines interactions, making file sharing and teamwork more efficient and organised. A few key features include: 

  • Remote work facilitation: Enables easy remote work and team communication during the pandemic.
  • Availability status feature: Shows team availability with status indicators on profile pictures.
  • Reminder functionality: Sets reminders for meetings, messages, and important tasks.
  • Customisable notifications: Customisable notifications for messages and mentions in channels.
  • Voice and video calls: Facilitates collaboration with voice and video call features.
  • App integrations: Integrates with apps like Office 365, Google, and Asana.
  • Private channels: Offers private channels for confidential team communications.
  • Organised channels: Clear channel topics and descriptions for better organisation.

Slack's approach to communication focuses on creating a cohesive, productive environment where teams can thrive. Organisations praise Slack for transforming their workflows. They report significant improvements in communication clarity and project coordination. 

With Slack, teams stay aligned, information flows smoothly, and productivity soars. This success reflects Slack's commitment to a user-centric design. 

Take the Human-Centred Approach

Human-centred design stands at the top of innovation and user satisfaction today. The examples we've explored, from Spotify's personalised playlists to Slack's streamlined team communication, show its significance across various sectors.

Some of the key takeaways from what we discussed include: 

  • Focus on personalisation: Tailoring experiences to individual needs, as seen with Fitbit and Spotify, enhance user engagement.
  • Ease of use matters: Simplifying processes, like Uber's ride-hailing and Instacart's grocery delivery, is crucial for user adoption.
  • Social integration adds value: As Venmo and Airbnb have done, incorporating social elements enriches the user experience.

Want to enhance a product, a service, or your entire brand? Applying these human-centred design principles can lead to significant improvements. For expert guidance on integrating these strategies into your brand, reach out to the professionals at RCCO and take the first step toward a more user-centric future.

Jordan Richards
CEO & Founder
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