Human-centered design (HCD), a subset of design thinking, provides a wealth of tools for educators to increase engagement and develop stronger solutions to problems with students, colleagues, and community members.
The following resources provide information on several human-centered design methods to serve as a reference for anyone looking to find new solutions in an inclusive and engaging way. For ease of reference, these resources are organized according to the phase of the design cycle they are most commonly used in: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, or test.
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Understand the interests, challenges, and motivations of your customers, users, or stakeholders.
If you want to empathize with someone else, and to really understand their perspective and experience, interviewing is a great place to start.
A journey map is a great tool for examining someone’s personal experience by breaking down a larger experience into its component parts, in order to better understand the specific challenges that person encounters.
The Five Whys
To address the root cause of a problem, rather than its symptoms, consider asking “why” five times.
To understand what your users – your students, colleagues, or families – really want in a product, service, or experience, consider letting them put their money where their mouth is with this method.
Whether you use fly-on-the-wall observation, contextual inquiry, or immersive research, these methods all support using your senses to gain understanding to inform developing problem statements and finding solutions.
Synthesize data, observations, or research, to clearly state the problem or challenge.
The Bullseye Framework is a method that helps participants set priorities, requiring participants to place ideas within the limited space of each circle ring–with limited space for top priorities.
Stakeholder Mapping is a method for identifying, organizing, and understanding the role of individuals and groups within a system or community by visually illustrating the key relationships between people.
An Importance/Effort Matrix helps team members to reach consensus, set goals, and generate action steps.
“How might we…?”
“How might we…” questions help frame your challenge and allow your brainstorming to be as divergent and inclusive as possible.
Concept Mapping is a creating a detailed visualization of all of the elements of a larger concept, phrase, or term. It make take the form of a web, a flow chart, or a hierarchical chart to name a few.
An Abstraction Ladder helps make sure that you are addressing the right problem, so your efforts are focused in the right direction.
Develop components and concepts to address the problem or challenge.
A Morphological Chart is a form of divergent thinking or broad brainstorming that can empower a team to generate new ideas and concepts by connecting unique variables together.
The Lotus Blossom is a simple, but structured form of brainstorming that can yield as many as 72 unique ideas for solving a problem.
Round Robin Brainstorming
Round Robin Brainstorming provides structure to group ideation sessions by embracing time limits, proximity, and collaboration as tools for generating and refining new ideas.
A Creative Matrix is a brainstorming method that pairs questions or challenges with specific resources to spark new ideas or solutions.
Rolestorming is assuming the lens, or role, of another person or character to assist with brainstorming or empathizing as part of addressing a challenge.
Create models, drafts, or pilots, to transition ideas to application.
This video provides an overview of what prototyping is, some examples, and when it’s a valuable time to use it.
Concept Posters and Concept Pitches
Concept posters and concept pitches are methods for presenting the key points of a new idea. A concept poster visually illustrates these key points, while a concept pitch audibly conveys these key points.
Observe prototypes in action and gather feedback to refine the product, program, or process.
Rose, Thorn, Bud
Rose, Thorn, Bud is an extremely versatile and accessible method, used to reflect on the positives (roses), negatives (thorns), and opportunities (buds) of nearly any product, service, or experience.
The Thinking Hats represent a collection of different lenses for observation and critique; how we view an idea, experience, or product impacts the type of feedback that we might provide.
Dot voting offers a process of democratic team decision-making that ensures that all voices are heard equally during consensus-building.
Think Aloud Testing
Think Aloud Testing is a design thinking method used to help designers better understand how their stakeholders and users will ultimately experience a product, process, or experience.
Heuristic Evaluation is used to help designers assess whether or not a product, process, or experience meets good standards of design and can provide a good gut-check for ensuring that nothing has been left unaddressed.