Design Processes Go Beyond “User-Centered Design”

In the field of UX, the most popular and commonly used design approach is “User-Centered Design.” However, there are a variety of different design approaches that have risen in recent years, such as “Value-Sensitive Design” and “More-than-Human Design.” Each of these approaches are beneficial for a variety of different purposes, but in order to be successful, UX designers should consider every aspect relating to all of their stakeholders, and these different approaches can help. 

The User-Centered Design approach is the most human-centered and prioritizes the users’ needs and desires. The six phases of this approach include identifying the use context and users’ needs, business requirements, building up design solutions, conduct usability tests, implementation of the product, and deployment of the product in order to make improvements for the consumers. Designers benefit from utilizing this approach because by valuing the human users’ hopes, fears, and needs, they are better equipped to create and design solutions that will meet their users’ desires. Ultimately, this approach combines information/society’s need to solve a certain issue, business goals, and user needs to create a successful user experience. 

Value-Sensitive Design goes beyond User-Centered Design to prioritize certain human values in order to solve societal problems. The constantly evolving tech industry brings to light several ethical concerns for users and society as a whole, thus forcing designers to consider ethics and morals when designing products and services. This approach was founded in 1999 and it hopes to improve technology to be more considerate of its impact on society. Furthermore, this approach can be beneficial for designers because when they consider potential tensions between different values and stakeholders of their products, they can address both the positive and negative consequences that might occur and help achieve or prevent such outcomes. Designers who use this approach also have to consider the indirect stakeholders of their products — those who are not directly involved with the design but are still impacted in some way. Some common human values that designers may consider when using this approach include: human welfare, ownership and property, privacy, freedom from bias, universal usability, trust, autonomy, informed consent, accountability, identity, calmness, and environmental sustainability. 

Another design approach that is often overlooked is “More-than-Human Design” which helps designers consider the future of design regarding AI and design fiction. When approaching solutions with a “thing-centered” approach, we can gain important insights regarding human interactions with AI and non-human technologies and even the interactions between only those non-human technologies. The rise of smart technologies that utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning has created many sources of anxiety for users and in order to address the future implications of these products and their impact on society, designers can approach their designs by prioritizing the “internet of things” and the “more-than-human” stakeholders of their solutions. Essentially, utilizing a “More-than-Human Design” approach is beneficial for designers working with AI because it helps them address society’s concerns about smart technology and helps them prevent potential issues. 

Ultimately, each of these design approaches are beneficial for UX designers in different fields of technology, but they can all be utilized for any design solution. For your future projects, maybe you can consider one of these new approaches in order to design a more holistic solution!