Bryan Taylor

Human-Centered Design is Just Good Design

During my freshman year of college, I took a literature class with Mr. Davies, a professor who was fairly new, a bit eccentric, and quite energetic. One day in class, he called on me to come up and read a section of King Lear aloud.

Little did he know how terrified I was. As I was suffering through the reading, I thought that I was doing alright until Professor Davies stopped me and said, “Bryan, get animated.” Apparently, he hadn’t found me to be a very believable Lear — to which I simply responded by telling him that I thought he had gotten the wrong guy.

When I first shared this story at the 2018 Service Design Week Conference — in front of a large room of people — I was about as comfortable as I was in that classroom 25 years ago. Despite that, I was grateful for the opportunity to share my experience with human-centered design, because I love design — good design, design that is meaningful.


Design by humans, for humans. Photo: Drawn

I was asked specifically to share our agency’s experience with human-centered design and service design. Since these are phrases that we’ve all been using a lot lately I wanted to take some time to evaluate what we all mean when we use these phrases. And I realized, “You know, all we’re really talking about is good design.” Allowing room for empathic understanding, iterative prototyping, designing solutions that feel natural, and meeting people wholistically (realistically) where they’re at. All of which resonates with how we’ve always approached our design work.


"And I realized, 'You know, all we’re really talking about is good design.' Allowing room for empathic understanding, iterative prototyping, designing solutions that feel natural, and meeting people wholistically (realistically) where they’re at."

We describe our agency as a group of creatives trying to design meaningful brand experiences to which people feel naturally drawn — whether that be through identities or interfaces or campaigns. I’ve always found there to be two philosophies in branding — you either chase or you attract. You can chase for attention — and keep chasing. Chasing can admittedly generate a quick spike of activity, but it doesn’t last. Or, you can build something authentic and magnetic that attracts people. Building something that attracts requires more intentionality, but it also leads to growing momentum, to winning over engaged fans that offer long-term loyalty. That is the kind of work that we like to be part of.