Insight Hero Mobile


Are we designing for users or humans?

Are we designing for users or humans? They sound like one and the same thing, but in some cases, they’re not. 

User-centred design takes inspiration from users' values, behaviours and actions. It requires being mindful that interactions, reactions and decisions take place in natural contexts rather than controlled settings. 

Clever user-centred design takes the user on a journey from understanding what exists, to discover what is possible. It then extracts everything the business needs to know from users about the ‘possible’ journey.

Designing for humans means stepping back from observing users as a function of behaviours and interactions, to gain an understanding of the broader ecosystem, community and the moment that the user exists within. 

It requires being clear on the role the product or service you are designing plays within that moment, and more broadly, within the community and the world.

Some principles that drive user and human-centred design at DNA.


We weigh up user and human needs, business value and technical implications, plus environmental and social factors. We do this by mapping and prioritising the desirability, viability and feasibility of potential solutions against all variables.


We consider and balance business needs, like cost management, efficiency and sustainability, with the emotional values users ascribe to solutions. We seek to identify and validate the value a user will derive from the product or service in experiential, perceptual, and emotional terms.


We determine what action the business is trying to inspire. Do we want to drive uptake, improve retention, or increase margin? We then consider what is most valuable for a user and what will elicit their engagement. People make decisions and take actions based on what is most important to them, as well as what seems most simple, easy, fun, and fulfilling.


We make the solution emotionally meaningful as well as functional. People have needs and goals, they also live with different pressures, pains and pleasure points. Designing for humans means factoring this in, rather than isolating interactions and experiences from reality.

It’s not easy to balance the various needs of a business, its people and its technology - it will be hard work at first. This is where user-centred design methodologies come into their own. When applied well, they help to hear and balance the many voices that contribute to the decision or project, to interrogate and synthesise what they are saying and to identify the commonality between them. It is here, on this common ground, that the opportunity to design the right solution resides.

Drop us a line if you want to find out more about human-centred design.