“Can you just digitise this?” Sure, we can, but should we?

It’s a common request (and we get it). Organisations want to offer learning at scale, accelerate learning delivery and speed productivity, reduce cost and time, free up facilitators, rapidly upskill individuals…or dare we say to ‘tick the box’!  There are many reasons why people and organisations want to digitise their learning content. But the question we always start with is, “tell us more about ‘the why’” and closely followed by “is that the best solution to get you what you need?”.

In today’s world of rapid technological advancements and constantly shifting user expectations, the importance of designing products, services, and experiences with humans at the forefront can’t be emphasised enough.  It’s critical to ensure that when we’re crafting experiences that we keep humans front and centre. Why? Because otherwise, the solution or service will likely fail.


“Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

Tim Brown

Executive Chair, IDEO

The impact of Human-Centred Desgin

While the Design Thinking mindset and the Human-centred design (HCD) approach aren’t new, when applied to learning design, you’re grounding your product, service or solution in data and evidence –  that starts by empathising and deeply understanding the user’s point of view and leads to creative and innovative solutions that are tailored to their needs (and ultimately, achieving the organisation’s needs.)

Human-Centred Design offers a powerful framework for designing and creating products, technology, and in our instance, learning service solutions that truly resonate with learners, leading to improved engagement, retention, and outcomes. By prioritising empathy, iteration, and collaboration, educators and instructional designers can design experiences that meet the diverse needs of learners in today’s dynamic world. Embracing HCD principles is not just about designing better solutions, but ultimately about empowering learners to thrive and be active participants who are then engaged in their learning journey.

Another common phrase we use (as do many learners) is “That’s all good in theory but how do I use it practically? What does that mean in action?”

Understanding Human-Centred Design

Venn diagram displaying three circles, orange, grey and yellow, with the words Feasibility (Technology) , Desirability (people) and Viability (business value)

Human-centred design is an iterative process that seeks to solve complex problems by deeply understanding and empathising with the end-users. It involves a series of steps that prioritise the user point of view (POV) and experience, and aims to create intuitive, effective, and impactful solutions.

Seek to understand:

This is all about building empathy for your users. To design solutions that resonate with users, designers must immerse themselves in the user’s world and deeply understand the user’s POV. This involves conducting in-depth research, observing behaviours, and actively listening to a diverse range of user feedback to understand their needs and challenges.

Define the problem:

Once designers understand users’ needs, they refine and define the problem(s) they are looking to solve. This phase involves synthesising research findings to create clear problem statements. Getting a problem statement wrong can result in solutions that are ineffective, wasteful, and misaligned with user needs and you can miss the opportunity to innovate and address the real problems. By investing time and effort upfront to accurately define the problem, you can ensure your subsequent design and development efforts are focused on addressing the right challenges.

Ideating without constraint:

With a well-defined problem, the next step is to generate creative ideas and potential solutions (grounded in the user POV, the data and evidence gathered and people with a range of skills and expertise to bring to the table). Brainstorming sessions and collaboration are essential in this phase, encouraging a diversity of perspectives. If the lead designer of the solution has an inkling or an idea – now is the time to park it! You’re now the master facilitator, ready to cultivate a wealth of ideas from the room before enriching the discussion with your own insights. Chances are the idea may come from the people in the room (and thus validating your idea, but also means you’re not influencing or guiding the solution without seeking genuine input from others). You should go big, ‘blue sky’ thinking without constraints of judging or negating ideas at this point. This is where at Wavelength, we push that little bit extra and leverage our diverse group of creative designers to come up with the goods. And, when we get the licence to play, every client says “woah, I wasn’t expecting that”!

Prototype and test:

This involves creating low-fidelity representations of the proposed solutions and allow designers to quickly test and iterate on their ideas, saving time and resources. This is fundamental – never jump straight to full development. Testing is a critical step in the HCD process. It involves gathering feedback from users through real-world interactions with the prototypes. This feedback loop helps designers refine their solutions based on real user experiences.

Develop and Implement:

Now you’ve got validation from end-users, it’s time to develop the first version of your solution and implement it. Best practice is to have a continuous improvement plan and start back at Phase 1 at regular intervals, to ensure your solution continues to meet user needs. If the needs shift, your solution shifts with it.

By the way, if we were to ‘just digitise this‘, it would start at this phase and miss out on all the value of the process, bypass what the learner needs, and would likely miss the mark.

At Wavelength, we are a driven team of designers who share a profound aversion to subpar learning experiences that dampen learners’ enthusiasm and hinder the achievement of intended outcomes. Because we deeply care, we commit to consistently adhering to our process. Our dedication is rooted in the creation of custom, high-quality learning solutions. It’s simply our way of making a difference.


Interested to learn more?

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