Benefits of integrating human-centered design and community-centered design

June 5, 2024

In recent times, public health practitioners have been seeing benefits in developing interventions by using a variety of processes and approaches together. There is a shift from viewing only one way of doing things as the norm towards adopting what works best for the specific situation. This shift in approach allows for practitioners to tap into a toolkit of design and public health processes to determine what aligns best with addressing the challenge and context at hand. It also calls for greater evidence and understanding of how different processes, approaches, and methods can be integrated and used in synchrony. 

In the same vein, this article touches upon the differences and synergies between community-centered design (CCD) and human-centered design (HCD). Specifically, it highlights the potential of using these practices together. 

The difference between HCD and CCD  

Human-centered design is a process of developing solutions that are centered around the needs, desires, preferences, and perspectives of the human that the solution is being designed for. Community-centered design is an approach to developing solutions that take into account the values, perspectives, and practices of the community. 

While both approaches follow a similar design-led process, the solutions that are developed are different in terms of whom they are catering to. The biggest difference between these two approaches lies in the people versus person approach employed, thereby resulting in solutions that, in CCD, are centered around the needs of the community, and in HCD, are centered around the needs of the individual. 

The potential of using HCD and CCD together 

The use of Human-Centered Design and Community-Centered Design together can result in a more balanced and contextual approach to solving public health challenges. This synergy has the potential to provide benefits that neither methodologies can achieve alone. Here are some advantages of combining HCD and CCD:

  1. Holistic understanding of needs that balances individual and collective perspectives: By incorporating both HCD and CCD, specific individual needs can be addressed while also considering the broader context of community dynamics. This balance ensures that solutions are relevant on a personal level for the individual and also resonate with the collective values of the community. 
  2. Greater empathy and deeper insight: HCD focuses on empathizing with individual users, providing a detailed understanding of their needs, desires, experiences, preferences, and challenges. CCD adds another layer by considering the community’s socio-cultural, historical, and environmental context. This provides a dual perspective that enables a richer and more nuanced understanding of the issue.
  3. A more inclusive design process: Combining HCD and CCD ensures that the design process is inclusive, and takes into account different voices from as many community members as possible, subject to relevance. This helps ensure that the needs and safety of more vulnerable groups in the context have been considered, thereby making the solutions designed more equitable and less risky.
  4. Higher levels of adoption and sustainability because the community feels a sense of ownership of the solution:  CCD lays emphasis on community involvement in the design process. When community members actively participate in creating solutions, they are more likely to accept and maintain them for the long run. This leads to higher adoption rates and long-term sustainability of solutions.
  5. Easier to achieve scale and impact because of tapping into community networks: HCD and CCD both aim to leverage the community for dissemination and implementation of the solutions designed. While the iterative nature of HCD allows for the refinement of solutions, the CCD approach ensures that the community has been actively engaged in the design and implementation of the solution. The combination of both these practices allows for solutions to be well-integrated into the community, thereby making the task of scaling the process easier, not just within the community but in similar contexts as well. 
  6. More culturally sensitive: By relying heavily on community perspectives and integration, CCD ensures that solutions are culturally sensitive and appropriate, and are more aligned with the practices within the community. This cultural relevance alongside the effectiveness of solutions developed through HCD makes them amenable to the individual and the community.

The key difference in focus – the individual in HCD and the collective in CCD – can also lead to tensions in creating interventions, especially in cases where the individual may need or desire something that is in opposition to the collective. However, these tensions can be resolved by finding creative ways to cater to both individual and collective needs, or finding a balance between the two so that the solution is more sustainable over a longer period, and still caters to individual needs to a certain degree. 

Using both HCD and CCD approaches gives practitioners a comprehensive perspective of the solution context and a more realistic view of what is possible, for what period, and to what degree. This is in addition to its potential to highlight nuanced challenges that may need to be addressed to further improve the outcomes of the solution.

You May Also Like

Creating a career in HCD: A young-person’s Cheat sheet

Creating a career in HCD: A young-person’s Cheat sheet

What is your name and job title? My name is Mercy Kipngeny and I am a Clinical Designer at Medtronic Labs. What has your career journey been like? I started my career in Human-centered Design (HCD) and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) in...

Pathways for Scaling Social Impact Solutions

Pathways for Scaling Social Impact Solutions

We kicked off 2023 with back-to-back sessions that explored how to Demystify Scale and Scale HCD Solutions, and this January, we delved into the different pathway options for scaling social impact with our partner, Spring Impact. What it takes to scale well...

Share This

Your Favorites

      No Favorites

Download Resource

Please log in or register to enjoy curated content and resources tailor-made for you and add them to your favorites' collection for ease of reference and download. Or close the dialog box to continue without logging in.