Each day we use products which are not expressly designed for all people. Band-aids were not produced to be inclusive to all skin types. Sunglasses are not built to fit all face types. What would our world look like if products were prototyped, developed, and researched with and for all people? Human-Centered Design (HCD) addresses this problem, emphasizing the importance of creating products that consider diverse user experiences.
Human-centered design study relies on four steps. Students will learn to clarify a problem, through collecting and observing data to understand a problem and how one might solve it. They will learn to ideate by applying different design thinking tools to amplify creativity and create unique solutions. They’re trained to develop products by evaluating ideas to fit a product’s desirability, feasibility, and viability. Lastly, students will understand how to implement a product to encourage adoption and continued growth.
In true interdisciplinary fashion, students majoring in human-centered design will begin to practice these four steps by taking courses within various fields. Students will study design processes and methods, computer science, customer assessment, analyzing research, concept generation, development, as well as engineering, entrepreneurship, environmental design, and psychology.
Various colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in human-centered design, with programs differing in emphasis, and no two programs are alike. For instance, one can study Human-Centered Engineering Design (HCED) which bridges engineering, design, art, and social sciences. Programs with a focus on engineering place a strong focus on the foundations of physical sciences and mathematics to develop technical skills in usability and human factor engineering. Students will learn how to solve complex engineering problems and produce human design solutions through the application of STEM-based principles.
Comparatively, other programs offer human-centered design through a liberal arts framework. Liberal arts programs focus on the need to generate large numbers of creative ideas and develop prototypes drawing on experience in a variety of courses such as anthropology, sociology, behavioral economics, art, and even improvisational theater.
Additionally, other universities provide hyper focused concentrations. For instance, students are able to study design and environmental analysis through a STEM certified program that highlights how people’s daily experiences are shaped by the physical environment around them. An interdisciplinary program like fashion design and management integrates the world of fashion with new cutting-edge technological innovations.
Human-centered design careers are valuable in a rapidly evolving technological landscape, providing graduates with versatile skills applicable to diverse industries. Designers are seen as crucial in creating functional and user-resonant products. Graduates will have skills that are versatile and applicable in a wide range of industries, making them attractive for various career positions. Graduates will play a pivotal role in creating products that are functional and resonate with users.
Human-centered design is a good fit for students who are interested in taking coursework from a broad range of disciplines, excited about hands-on work and collaboration, and passionate about empathetic and equitable product development. Students should be ready to “think outside of the box” and create innovative solutions for both common and complex problems.
Career Paths for Human-Centered Design Majors:
- User Experience (UX) Designer
- User Interface (UI) Designer
- Service Designer
- Information Architect
- Content/Design Strategist
- Product Manager
- User Researcher
- Innovation Consultant
- Entrepreneur In Green Industry and Social Ventures
- Environmental Design Consultant
- Interaction Designer
- Product Designer (Internet & Software)
- Consulting Development Analyst
- Researcher in Government Agencies
- Data Analyst