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Human Centered Design (HCD) is a people-centered approach to software development that prioritizes understanding the needs and experiences of its users over features. The goal is to develop solutions that solve the right problems by creating small and simple inventions. This process involves designing and prototyping applications in an agile development process.

Unlike the traditional “waterfall” approach, where requirements are written in a document and handed off to developers, HCD encourages collaboration and iteration. HCD acknowledges that the design and development of software is a continuous and cyclical process.

However, when HCD is taken to its extreme, it can become a waterfall approach. This occurs when the design and non-development prototyping takes too long to get code out the door. As a result, the development process becomes slow and inflexible, limiting the potential for innovation and growth.

To avoid this, it is important to involve the software developers in the initial stages of the HCD process. This ensures that the team can balance the desire for a perfect product with the need for an agile and iterative approach. Starting with the basics of a project, such as logging in and registering, is important. The team should focus on installation and deploying the minimum amount of code to create a usable prototype that users can test on their devices or browsers.

While it is important to allow designers to create mockups and sketches, it is crucial to turn them over to developers as soon as possible. This step serves as a forcing function that pushes the product team to consider issues, they may have overlooked, such as how the application will look on mobile devices. It also allows developers to share their expertise, suggest features and capabilities, and point out potential roadblocks.

HCD can be used effectively in development, but it requires a balance between design and development, and an understanding that the two are intertwined. By involving the software developers early in the process and focusing on delivering a usable prototype, teams can ensure that they are on the right track to success.

At zCore, we have extensive experience working with federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our HCD approach involves working closely with the product team to understand their goals and objectives, as well as the needs and experiences of the end-users.

We start by identifying the basics of the project, such as requirements that the product owner may take for granted and focusing on installation and deploying the minimum amount of code to create a usable prototype. Throughout the process, we emphasize collaboration and iteration, encouraging the software developers to share their expertise and insights.

We also work to ensure that the design is aligned with the organization’s branding and user experience guidelines, such as the VA’s design system. By implementing HCD in this way, we can help federal agencies deliver successful and impactful solutions that meet the needs of their users without reinventing the wheel.

HCD aims to help create solutions that puts problems over process to solve the right ones. When implemented effectively, HCD can lead to innovation and growth. However, it is important to avoid turning HCD into a waterfall approach by involving the software developers in the initial stages of the process and focusing on delivering a usable prototype. This approach ensures that teams strike the right balance between design and development and achieve their goals.

zCore Group is committed to maximizing the potential of Human Centered Design in software development. We understand the importance of striking a balance between design and development, and we’re here to help you navigate this process. Our team of experts is ready to collaborate with you, ensuring that your software solutions are not only user-centric but also efficient and innovative. We believe in the power of HCD and its potential to transform your software development process, leading to products that truly meet the needs of your users. Learn more about what we do and how we can help you achieve your software design goals.

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