Why humanity-centred design matters to Swipe

October 27, 2022

Why humanity-centred design matters to Swipe

The world is full of wicked problems often rooted in complex systems and ambiguity. To come up with effective solutions, we need to deeply consider the benefit they will bring to humans and ecosystems. When designing sustainable solutions, we must ensure they are simple and intuitive; in other words, requiring limited innate behavioural change and addressing human, social and environmental needs.

At Swipe, we build human-centred, innovative, scalable, and secure solutions. As a strategist in the product team, my core focus is to ensure our solutions are built to solve true human-centred problems.

In order to thoroughly understand such problems, I began exploring what design thinking means for me, our team, our clients and society. I soon took a keen interest in exploring the expansion from human-centred design into humanity-centred design.

What’s the difference?

Human-centred design focuses on building solutions with your user in mind. You set out to deeply understand user pain points, frustrations and experiences to see how your design solutions will delight them. You seek to design a solution to address or negate their pain points and meet their needs while building a memorable experience.

Humanity-centred design takes a more holistic approach, focusing on societies with complex, deep-rooted problems. Humanity-centred design looks at the larger picture: how can we solve problems for societies, environments, political and economic systems, as well as the internet? Humanity-centred design has one goal at its heart: to make the world a better place for all.

Three principles guide both human-centred and humanity-centred design:

  1. At the core, both systems are people-centred
  1. The focus is on finding and solving for the right problem
  1. Once we have the right problem, the focus then becomes continuous iteration to move closer to sustainable solutions

While exploring humanity-centred design with our clients, we explore and comprehend the following key themes:

Driving purpose: Organisations driven by purpose wholly operate with a core social orientation or philosophy. Purpose-led organisations root this philosophy in everything they do. It determines why they exist, how they select employees, and drives their everyday operations. It is key to ensure that the purpose benefits humanity – how do we guarantee the purpose drives positive change?  

Moving towards an era of consciousness: “Global consciousness”, a term coined by futurists Gerd Leonhard and Bill Halal, explains how we’re moving from the Information Age into the Consciousness Age. To facilitate this transition, we must understand how to take all the information within organisations and explore our move into a state of consciousness. Individuals, businesses and societies need to become deeply aware of their surroundings, married to a robust set of emotions, values and beliefs. We must be willing to make changes and work together to build a more sustainable world. How do we use current information and knowledge of our surroundings, guided by a core set of values to deliver true impact?

Sustainable product design: This involves building physical and digital products in a sustainable way for growth, scalability, and future use on this planet. Several trends represent this concept, including sustainable materials, closed loops, net-zero targets, and using local talent and resources. This theme includes designing for human psychology. For example, recycling efforts face numerous problems requiring behavioural change from humans. How do we design genuinely sustainable products that do not require a change in human behaviour?

Joel Spolsky, the creator of popular project management service Trello, once said, “Design adds value faster than it adds costs.” Design is a mechanism to do things better – it enables us to explore options and build solutions. Human- and humanity-centred design ensures we look at the problems through a lens that drives key benefits where we can tackle society’s most exciting and demanding problems.

Regardless of your objective, putting humans and humanity at the centre of your design will ensure you’re solving for effective, sustainable change. We embrace and nourish this philosophy at Swipe, as it helps us create true value for ourselves, our customers, our societies, our country, and our world.

Jacques Fourie

Savannah Otto

Design Thinking Strategist

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