IEORE4200 Introduction to Human-Centered Design (1.5)

Instructor: Prof. Harry West

This class is open to graduate students from Columbia Engineering and Columbia Business School, as well as advanced undergraduate students with permission of instructor. Students from GSAPP and other schools are also welcome to apply to the instructor. Enrollment will be limited to 50 students.

Today design has emerged as a key differentiator among the most valuable brands, products, and services in the world. The reason for this is customers, consumers, constituents, employees - the users - are now in control. Users are more discerning, they have more choices and are more comfortable exercising their choice. Users are demanding that their products and services work for them in the fullest sense: that their total experience is as good as it can be. Companies, other organizations and even governments are finding that they have to address the demands of their users, and do so with an unaccustomed urgency. If they do not, their users will exercise their choices and change brand, change behavior, or even change their government.

Human-Centered Design is an approach that puts the customer, consumer, citizen or employee at the center of the process and designs around them rather than asking human beings to adapt to technological, process, tradition or other constraints. By putting the customer at the center of the enterprise, you establish a shared meaning that brings teams together and guides their work. Human-centered design teams develop better products and services which are more likely to succeed.

In this course, students will learn the vocabulary of design methods and gain an understanding of design processes. The class will be organized around small group projects that will involve writing, sketching, and creating simple prototypes using cardboard and other material, and students’ personal computers.

The course will be a fast-paced introduction: you will not become an expert, but you will gain insights into the concept of human centered design. We will begin with the design of a simple product and work our way towards the design of more complex systems of products and services, and then on to the design of a business. 

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