-The Human side of design

From human-centered to ecosystem-centered design

From human-centered to ecosystem-centered design

Dec 15, 2023

When human-centered design solutions got implemented, their core value was focusing on solving the problems of real people. The revolution of focusing on the people who use a service or a solution was putting people at the center of the design process. Its main goal was to focus on the user's needs within every step of the building and planning process. 

Another revolutionary new view that came with this was the clarification and validation of the solutions - products and services - that people used before they started to use them. IT solutions and physical devices became more usable and user-friendly, increasing companies' revenues and pioneering this method. It benefited the people and the organizations with this mindset, so it was a double win. 

One thing human-centered solutions were not focusing enough on was the effect these user-friendly products and services have on the environment and the world that surrounds us. Sustainability was not the main focus point.
We can easily lose sight of the bigger picture when focusing on the needs of an individual user. While it might be super user-friendly to have a three-ton high-quality 300 series stainless steel electric SUV that has got its every little nuance tested with a ton of users, it is not necessarily great for the planet, because it can create pollution and carbon emissions in ways that consumers and investors easily overlook. To demonstrate the switch in this case, the human-centered perspective is how comfortable the person feels in the car while driving. The humanity-centered perspective is how comfortable the planet is with this car riding on its surface. 

But even the expression “humanity-centered design” needs to be more inclusive. We must create solutions feasible for the whole ecosystem, not just for humanity but for all living creatures and the non-living objects surrounding us, the climate, the planet, and the environment. We will be here for 40-50 more years if we are lucky and then we'll leave and pass this world on to the next generations. But in what condition will we pass it on? That's the main question.

The green tech revolution was not new. What was new, though, was not just focusing on trying to be green and sustainable but also designing for communities–not just individual users–and involving communities in that process. 

While ecosystem-centered design’s main question focuses on how to create the best possible experience,” the ecosystem-centered design adds another question: "What is the price we all will pay to have the solution?” This approach reminds us that business outcomes are not well-being outcomes. Well-being is an experience and involves improving things for the greater good of every living thing.  

How about our workplaces? 

The main question is whether you, as a company, live up to your environment-friendly motto in your products and in the workplaces where the products are created. We tend to consider how our product affects humanity, yet we don’t always focus on the creators. Humanity-centered design is not just for end users but the creators, too. You can have the most sustainable economic solution but, if the product is created in a sweatshop to gain higher profit, your motto begins to look like window dressing. We must talk about something other than a humanity-centered approach. 

A sustainability design revolution

Mindful Design products that respect user's privacy, time, and attention Calm design is a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its users is designed to occur in the user's periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention.

Slow design is movement that is deeply conscious of the lifespan of its end product, contributing to the shift towards sustainability and sustainable design philosophy are all relevant methods similar to a humanity-centered design that shows the need for designers to focus on the overall effect of experiences they create on people’s well-being. 

While the world's most prestigious restaurants are closing because they are unsustainable for the global environment, countries are adopting laws for grocery chains to fight food waste. World-famous biologists like David Attenborough are changing their perspective and becoming vocal about the need for global environmental protection in their nature documentaries. We should do the same and begin to apply this environmentally cautious mentality whenever we design.

One World or None

"One World or None" is a booklet published in 1946 by the Interim Committee on Atomic Energy experts, a panel of advisors appointed by US President Harry Truman to advise him on nuclear energy policy. The booklet summarizes the committee's findings and recommendations regarding the development and use of atomic energy.

The central theme of the booklet is the urgent need for international control of atomic energy to prevent its use for destructive purposes. It argues that the development of atomic energy presents both tremendous potential benefits and significant risks, including the possibility of a catastrophic nuclear war. Overall, the book argues that the development of atomic energy presents both an opportunity and a danger for humanity and that international cooperation is necessary to ensure that the benefits of nuclear energy are realized without unleashing its destructive potential.

This book is also a future warning and about the possible dangers that the future holds for humanity with the rise of new technology. As a suggestion, the writers highlight that, in the future, people must cooperate and work together to avoid the harmful effects of new technologies. In a world that is in an ethical crisis, this collaboration will not be easy, but it is mandatory for a sustainable future. 

Designers today can draw inspiration from this historical example, considering how their work can contribute to a more sustainable and cooperative future. What might a contemporary version of "One World or None" look like from a designer's perspective? This thought-provoking question invites designers to critically examine their role in shaping a more sustainable, ethical, and collaborative world.

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