Five Modes and Nine Variations of Integration between HCD and Futures Design

Document Type : Original Article


Small Business Innovation Research & Small Business Technology Transfer Research Programs, NASA, Washington, D.C., United States.


Human-centered Design and Futures Design both offer different routes to alternative, new designs. Human-centered Design employs a need-based, problem-based, or deficit-based approach. Through the use of a shared, preferred future vision, Futures Design utilizes an asset-based approach, potentially leading to different, present-day design choices than a Human-centered Design process. Without knowing which methodology offers a preferred present-day design for the current needs of customers using existing services, designers may choose to integrate the two methodologies, gaining the benefits of both, a type of mixed-methods approach. Instead of mixed methods implying the combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, in this context, mixed methods means combining asset-based and need, problem, or deficit-based approaches. However, combining Human-centered Design and Futures Design can be confusing, especially with the multiple roles design can play in the Futures process (for example design futures versus Futures Design). I attempt to clarify how the methodologies can be integrated by sharing five modes and nine variations of integration along with their relative advantages and disadvantages.


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