Human Centered Design


Is human-centered design at the heart of your customer experience? It should be. By 2030, 75% of companies in the S&P 500 rating will cease to exist.
Business is forced to change in order to maintain a competitive advantage. The main priorities of the organization are: fast-learning, flexibility, high-speed testing of market hypotheses, the ability to form mobile cross-disciplinary teams for testing and the implementation of new products and services. At the fore-front is the ability to create a stable and difficult-copied for competitors set of criteria and values and a seamless user-experience.
Want to Improve Customer Experience? Start with Human-Centered Design
Customer experience, or CX, is the word of the day around the world’s leading companies. As consumers increasingly expect brands to deliver superior services and experiences, organizations are focused on getting CX right. According to a recent Gartner 2019 survey, more than 89 percent of companies plan to compete primarily by CX differentiation this year—up from just 58 percent a couple of years ago.

Digital technologies are impacting every aspect of our lives, and companies have no choice but to transform and adapt. To earn customer loyalty and respect, we are expected to meet customers’ needs at every interaction. At the same time, it has become increasingly difficult to innovate effectively to meet those needs in today’s complex and rapidly changing business environment.
Human Centered Design Thinking is equal parts mindset, strategy, and tactical approach, that when adopted and applied consistently, can deliver transformative business results.
So, how can your company improve its CX by human-centered design?
When your organization makes the decision to differentiate on CX, consider leveraging three primary principles of the human-centered design process to transform experiences and establish yourself as a leader:

1. Empathize with your consumers

Creating empathy for your consumers helps uncover insights and latent needs that you may not have been previously aware of—sometimes even unearthing experience flaws that consumers themselves may not realize or be able to verbally articulate. Identifying unmet needs will help your organization focus its CX efforts on creating and refining offerings that address consumers’ biggest pain points or challenges.

2. Co-create with your consumers

Engaging consumers in generating ideas and evaluating prototypes ensures that their needs and perspectives inform both initial concepts and refinements. Prioritizing consumer desirability (over other aspects like the feasibility and viability of an idea) when narrowing down ideas helps ensure the ideas you’re developing will improve CX.

3. Implement and iterate with your consumers

Given the pace at which technological capabilities and consumer expectations are changing, redesigning the consumer experience is no longer a one-time effort. Organizations should continually gather and respond to consumer feedback, evolving their offerings to ensure they remain distinct in the experiences they offer their consumers.
How mature is your company in terms of Human-Centered Design?
The ability to deliver depends on the extent to which customer centricity is embedded within every aspect of business, and in the way an organisation thinks.

So how can you embed a human-centered approach into your organisation’s DNA? And how can you integrate that approach into your customer experience?

Start with human-centered design: a sustainable, faster, and more cost-effective approach to innovation.

Are you using design to make your products and services more beautiful? Are you using it to create better customer experiences? Are you using it to formulate your organizational strategy? Are you using it to strengthen or create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship?

Design is now used in many ways across the business world, and we think the Danish Design Ladder is the best way to understand how businesses are using design and where there is potential to use it in different ways.

So how mature is your organization when it comes to Design? The Danish Design Ladder talks about four stages of design use.



You use Design for nothing. You don’t have any formal design roles in your organisation, and you don’t use design agencies. Not fun.

Example: A steel mill with high demand for their product where any design work (or other work) is seen as superfluous.



You use Design for aesthetics, styling, or ‘form-giving’. Whether through your products and services or the physical touch-points that your customers interact with.

You employ designers or outsource aesthetic design work to agencies. Design makes things more beautiful. Fun.

Example: A shoe company that uses design to make their shoes look more appealing to customers.



This is where you’re using Design to inform your processes to create products and services, you’re also likely to have adopted Design Thinking and you hold co-design sessions or workshops to inform how you actually get things done, your processes.

You employ designers to do things other than styling or aesthetics. They are integral to getting your products and services out to customers through incredible experiences.

Your people perform customer research, ethnography, prototype, and come up with creative ways to solve customer needs.

Example: A device manufacturer using design to make their products easier to use (also includes aesthetics).



You use Design to inform and create your organisation’s strategy. Here’s a quote directly from the Danish Design Ladder website…

“The designer works with the company’s owners/management to rethink the business concept completely or in part. Here, the key focus is on the design process in relation to the company’s business visions and its desired business areas and future role in the value chain.”

Your organisation has designers as founders, or board members, or in the c-suite. Positions of authority where they (Design) can influence investment choices.

Example: A financial services organisation shifting investment to a service that solves a deep customer need that was identified through customer research.



You’re using design to help solve complex social issues, massive industry problems, or to streamline complex ecosystems. You’re using Design to drive systemic change across numerous organisations or businesses.

Government organisations are starting to do this to formulate policy within their own local or regional ecosystems. They bring disparate groups together and Design solutions that best fit that particular ecosystem. They’re able to drive systemic change through the collaboration with those groups.

Example: A local council using design to bring together groups from around the community to solve a complex social issue.



This is what we see as the pinnacle of using Design in Business. You use Design to build and harness great culture. You’re shifting the mindsets of people within your organisation to align to the design mindset, people are starting to innovate, act like entrepreneurs, embrace ambiguity, listen to the voice of the customer, and lead through design.

Example: Any organisation that actively hires designers (or people with a design disposition/background) into roles in the hope of inspiring, challenging, catalysing, and developing their incumbent workforce.
Becoming a truly customer-centric and a lead-design organisation takes time, but you can start small. Here are three keys to success
1. Prevent, protect and predict. To apply a human-centered design in the experience that you deliver to your customers, adopt a personalized “prevent, protect and predict” approach that analyzes, improves and optimizes every step in the journey.
2. Personalize the experience. A decade ago, everything evolved around customer segmentation. Today, focusing sales and marketing on large groups of customers who were believed to have similar profiles, buying behaviours and needs is an outdated notion. Now the only segment that matters is the individual customer. Personalization has become key.
3. Overcome roadblocks with outside-in thinking. Key challenges to becoming a customer-centric organisation include:

  • Functional silos preventing data sharing
  • Key technology platforms with an abundance of available customer data, but no way of using the data intelligently
  • Customer support not empowered to deal with customer issues

Ready to become a laber?

Ready to become a laber?