Benefits of HCD

What will the HCD approach help me do? Why should I use it now? How is it different from the way we work today?

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The human-centred approach emphasizes both the perspective and participation of the people we are trying to serve at every step, resulting in more inclusive, tailored and empowering solutions.

Origin of the HCD approach

Origins of HCD schema: The human-centred approach combines the best parts  of behavioral sciences and design research to embrace evidence-based approaches that focus locally.

What will it help me do?

Graphic highlighting what HCD will help you do: Save money, find new solutions, close the empathy gap, save time, reduce the inequities.

How is it different?

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Work in a team of 3-5

While input from many parties is important, it can lead to a slow process. There are moments — such as brainstorming — where you will invite additional participants to join. But start with a core team of three to five members that will participate in the entire process.


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Leave your desk behind

Whether or not you have formal training, you can be an effective researcher simply by being a curious, perceptive person. The best results come from observing and talking to caregivers out in the field who are experiencing the problem you are looking to solve.

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Recruit diverse roles

Ideally, each team member holds a different role so your team has diverse and complementary perspectives. Consider team members’ breadth of experiences, not just titles and functions.



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Share a story

Facts are important, but stories make facts memorable. Share your stories from the field. Who did you meet? What did you see? How did you see it in a new way?

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Think in weeks, not months

Work fast and be nimble. This entire process may be completed in a short amount of time. It should never drag on for months. It relies on quick trials and tests to move forward with confidence.



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Make it tangible

Mock-ups, sketches and role play give users a physical representation to experience and react to. Even a rough approximation of your idea will create clarity for you as the creator and allow for realistic feedback from users.

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Experiment again & again

Since this process occurs in short sprints, it encourages experimental trials that may not always work out. That is okay — instead of agonizing over the perfect solution, try many possibilities and learn just as much from what does not work as from what does.


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Everyone is creative

This process benefits from everyone’s creativity, not just those who hold design positions. Everyone is familiar with the challenges and is therefore capable of thinking about causes and designing solutions.

Why now? Prioritizing vulnerable groups, better understanding the constraints they face and resolving the challenges preventing them from accessing vital health services has a fresh urgency.

A focus on equity
The global health community has underscored the importance of prioritizing the most susceptible populations rather than exclusively focusing on coverage. This pro-equity principle requires that health programmes systematically identify and reach the least visible and most marginalized to achieve coverage with equity.

A focus on demand
Any programme providing health services requires that users accept and seek out those services. When that does not happen, demand fails to meet supply.

Demand is about behaviour
Challenges of demand revolve around decision-making and action taking. Drivers to action (such as timely reminders to activate intentions) and barriers to action (such as social distance or poor perception of services) can influence caregivers' decisions.