Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Human Centered Design (HCD)

According to ISO 9241-210:2010(E) “human-centered design is an approach to interactive systems that aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements, and by applying human factors/ergonomics, and usability knowledge and techniques. This approach enhances effectiveness and efficiency, improves human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility and sustainability; and counteracts possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance.”

ISO 9241-110 Principles of the Human-Centered Approach

According to ISO 9241-110 the following principles are key to the human-centered approach:

HCD Process Image
  • The design is based upon an explicit understanding of users, tasks, and environments.
  • Users are involved throughout design and development.
  • The design is driven and refined by user-centered evaluation.
  • The process is iterative.
  • The design addresses the whole user experience.
  • The design team includes multi-disciplinary skills and perspectives.


  • There are four HCD activities that should take place during the
  • design of any interactive system. These include:
  • Understanding and specifying the context of use.
  • Specifying the user requirements.
  • Producing design solutions.
  • Evaluating the design.

ISO 9241-110 Principles for Design

When designing for the user experience the following principles should be taking into account:

 a) suitability for the task;
 b) self-descriptiveness;
 c) conformity with user expectations;
 d) suitability for learning; 
 e) controllability;
 f) error tolerance;
 g) suitability for individualization.

Evaluating the Design

Evaluation should occur even in the earliest stages of the project. There are several user-centered evaluation methods that you can use to evaluate designs. User based testing (i.e., usability testing) and the use of standards and guidelines as an inspection method can be used and does not require end users. See our Methods section for more information.

Created April 12, 2021, Updated May 3, 2021