Human Centered Design

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Humans have feelings, thoughts, and emotions . When a website does not merely perform a function (give information), but instead coaxes a response – a reaction – then it becomes something we personally relate to as we would another human, a pet, or a beautiful home (and after all, your website IS your home – and represents yourself or your company – online).


In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his hierarchy of human needs as a pyramid, and it is still used by sociologists – and marketers – to this day. It goes from Physiological needs at the bottom (broadest area of the pyramid), up through Safety, Love/belonging, and Esteem to Self-actualization at the top.


There is a hierarchy as well for what a website needs to be truly effective. See below:




Here we see that at the bottom of the pyramid, a website has to at least function as much as possible. Above that, if it is reliable it meets our needs better, and if it is usable, better still.

With these three layers of the pyramid, we have at least a site doing its job – it works and it gets across the information it was designed to get across. Wouldn’t it be nice if all websites did at least that!?


Above the line that few sites manage to cross, ( the line I believe it’s necessary to cross in order to be both credible and memorable), are the qualities “Pleasurable” and “Has Meaning”.

Ask yourself: Is my website pleasurable to look at? Does it offer meaning – in other words: provoke an emotional response?

As Daniel Ruston, Senior Designer at Google, said, “After all we call it human centered design for a reason. If you want to create something memorable, inspiring, and meaningful tapping into emotion provokes a powerful response, and can lift even the simplest of experiences into something people love to use.”

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