Human-Centered Design Approach: Designing Interfaces That Enhance Experience | by Ayesha Ambreen | Nov, 2021

Ayesha Ambreen
The human-centered design approach

Every invention brought into this world became successful for three reasons: simplicity, usefulness, and versatility. Take the lever, for instance; its design is simple and the ways to use it are numerous. For thousands of years, this sophisticatedly designed machine has formed the basis of most of the modern machines we have today.

That being said, the design with the most human-focused approach bears grand power due to its broad-spectrum usability, high functionality, and an undeniable scope of experience.

As more people came across the simple device, more ideas for its usability were birthed as per their needs, hence making the machine a versatile one. This very idea of comprehensive usability fashions the human-centered design approach that has led humans to design interfaces to enhance user experience.

Fast forward to digital design, the human-centered design brings the human aspect of the design into focus. It puts users in the first lane. Instead of designing interfaces where users adapt to the system, the human-centered approach encourages designers to develop interfaces that are adapted to the needs of the users.

So, what mainly makes a design human-focused? What criteria does it fulfill to be completely humane? From lever to today’s advanced computer systems, a human-focused design is:

The 5 elements of a human-centered design

While the technologists believe in the users’ ability to adapt to learn, the latter must first be taught about how to use a certain design. For instance, if they see a hamburger menu, they must know that the design is meant to expand once it’s clicked, or if they see a Call To Action (CTA) button, they must know what it does.

At this point, designers need to introspect their understanding of the human-centered design philosophy, which iterates to present impactful yet concentrated solutions to those experiencing the problem.

The complexity can make human interactions and behavior unpredictable, and designing human-centered designs becomes easier said than done. Following are some common challenges of designing human-centered interfaces:

Failure From Repeated Attempts

Research, Grow And Repeat

Develop A Multidisciplinary Approach

Reduce Cognitive Load For The User As Much As Possible

1. Leverage User Data

a) Behavioral Patterns

The way your users interact with your design gives cues about what they like and dislike. You have to notice their behavioral pattern via clicks, likes, and other positive experiences on your design. Using these behavioral cues, create a user persona base and determine your audience.

b) User Preferences

Another thing to leverage user data is to notice what they’re interested in, what grabs their attention, and what makes them tick. Do they prefer certain colors? Are they into some particular imagery? Do they prefer a certain theme? Get skin deep when discovering these possibilities as these might serve as the triggers to come to terms with the users.

2. Use Natural Patterns

a) Familiar Graphics, Navigation, Etc.

If you’re opting to connect to your users on a ‘human’ level, you might want to keep different aspects of the design in the loop with the users’ feasibility in mind. For instance, if you’re designing for a travel site, you will display the images of the places your users will like to visit. You can also use the ‘hamburger menu to allow the users to interact with the drop-down menu with ease.

b) Multimodal Communication

Communication just doesn’t have to be verbal. The main idea of a human-centered design is that you communicate with the user’s perception in mind. That said, you don’t have to stick to one medium; you can use a variety of communication modes to express the usability of the design. Also, it helps improve error avoidance, where users can detect their natural pattern of interaction and explore its flexibility.

3. Reduce Cognitive Load

a) Encourage Clicks Instead Of Long Text

What you can do here is to leverage the user data and their experiences. If they don’t like long texts and interruptions, remove them. If they are bombarded with too many color choices, opt for a maximum of three colors. Instead of displaying too much information, encourage the users to take action via call-to-action buttons and limited, but active visuals.

4. Follow Best Work Practices

a) Don’t Change Industry Standards

When you’re opting for the best practices and still want to speed up the process of their integration in your design, stick to the proven methods. Go for the grounded practices in the industry popular among the users. For instance, most video platforms offer accessible options like dark mode and captions for users with visual or learning disabilities. Seek the problem you’re addressing and maintain the standards.

b) Be Consistent

Consistency is the key to mastering human-centered design. If you’re making your design-oriented towards a conversational feel, keeping it natural shouldn’t hurt the design and the users’ ability to interact with it. Keep consistency in practice to bridge the emotional gap.

5. Keep the Design Simple

a) Avoid Complicated Features

Of all the ways to keep your design simple, the features in your design should comply with your approach towards simplicity and ease of use. From the navigational features to the placement of search boxes, each design element should avoid complications. If the users are unable to understand it, they might leave and the purpose of your design might fail.

b) Keep Things Simple And Minimal

From texts to images, keep your design simple to the point of highest effectiveness. Instead of introducing a new idea, test with something your users are familiar with. Keep the design elements minimal. For example, use a limited color scheme or high-quality hero images. Simplify the menu with what your users are comfortable with. Generously use negative space and spread out the contents to give peace to both the content and the users. Make sure you don’t deviate from the user’s perception of a simple and useable design.

6. Minimize Interruptions

a) Don’t Undermine User’s Ability To Engage

You are not the user. Let that sink in. You’re designing for the user on the other side. What seems understandable to you might not come easy to them. But that doesn’t mean that they lack the ability to interact. With all the simplicity in your design, never downplay your users’ ability to interact and engage intelligently. Navigate them via clear actions to guide their course.

b) Avoid Unnecessary Distractions

Like we stated, distractions limit your users’ capabilities to experience and unload the cognitive burden. If you’re going to cut the distractions, such as media playing in the background or irrelevant imagery and links in your design, your users will thank you for a uniform experience.

7. Be Transparent to the users

Make sure there isn’t room for dark patterns. You should NEVER opt for these as they are not only deceptive but also tend to exploit human psychology. The users are ‘forced’ to do what they don’t want to do. In that sequence, never take advantage of the user naiveness. Your goal is to make design useable and valuable for them, not to involve in surveillance capitalism and market yourself via advertising.

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