Human-centred design

Human-centred design (HCD) is an approach to solving problems that revolves around people and their needs.

Understanding human-centred design

Human-centred design is also known as user experience design (UX), customer experience design (CX) or user-centred design (UCD).

Not meeting user needs in government forces people to more expensive channels such as phone and service centres, and can damage public trust.

Agencies may have their own preferences for referring to their users, so it’s important to ensure there is a shared understanding. Some consider ‘users’ to only mean end users, that is, the public. However, under the Digital Service Standard, user means everyone that uses or is impacted by the service (including people who build, maintain or rely on it).

Human-centred design is not about giving users everything they want. People have a range of interactions with government which they may not otherwise choose to participate in (such as paying fines or meeting compliance obligations). The aim is to make government interactions as simple, easy and fast as possible.

Human-centred design has elements of agile. And agile has elements of human-centred design. They both encourage the incremental delivery of small pieces of work to test and iterate with users.

Users include everyone:

  • clients
  • customers
  • ministers
  • internal staff
  • recipients
  • industry groups
  • peak bodies
  • stakeholders
  • interest groups.

Getting started with human-centred design

Understand your users

Learn who they are and why they interact with your service.

Some action that can be taken by individuals:

  • observe people using their product or service
  • observe how people with disabilities their product or service.

Build empathy

Involve the whole team in user research, encourage participation.

Some action that can be taken by individuals:

  • shadow an experienced practitioner and learn how they do their work.

Invest early

Fund work to understand user needs before you start deciding on or building solutions

Encourage objectivity

Make decisions based on data and evidence rather than opinions.

Some action that can be taken by individuals:

  • join a community of people working in this field to learn from and share
  • find a mentor to learn from and provide guidance.

Share research

Showcase findings and insights, be willing to share with others.

Resources for HCD in government

Learn more about HCD with the following links.

If you're looking to go deeper with HCD, discover HCD methodologies below.

  • presents templates and plays for collected methods in Design Kit.
  • The Hyper Island Toolbox contains a searchable catalogue of agile and HCD methods. 

Join our HCD community

You'll find more resources, advice and support in the Digital Profession's Design and Research Community. It's an open and safe space to connect with peers, share experiences, ask questions and help solve common problems.