An introduction to human-centered design for people working to improve public services.

In this course, you’ll learn about how human-centered design (HCD) is used to improve the experience of people closest to public services—namely, residents and frontline staff. This includes the mindsets and activities that HCD entails, ethical considerations, and why it’s so critical that your institution embrace a human-centered approach.

course outcomes

  • Make a case for how HCD can improve the experience of engaging with public services for residents and frontline staff.

  • Reflect on what it means to do ethical research and design.

  • Identify when and how user needs aren’t being met.

  • Envision how you can apply HCD in your own institution.

Online self-paced
Start Date
Start anytime
6-8 hours

What you'll learn

  1. What to expect+

    • Course overview

    • Your learning community

    • Getting started checklist

  2. Setting the stage+

    • What is HCD?

    • Centering “lived expertise”

    • Critical context

    • Building a principled practice

  3. HCD for public institutions+

    • The HCD process

    • Design mindset vs. institutional mindset

    • Key dominoes

    • Case studies

  4. Doing HCD: the basics+

    • Context building

    • Interviewing

    • On-site observations

    • Downloading and synthesis

    • Ideation

    • Iteration and prototyping

    • User testing

  5. Ethics and equity+

    • Committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion

    • Ethics in research and design

  6. Looking ahead+

    • Course review

    • Key dominoes for public services

    • Agents of change

    • Templates and tools

    • Committing to the process

Enroll as a team

Learning is better as a team sport. Practica supports collaborative learning through paid cohorts: 6-month group learning experiences facilitated by Civilla staff. Together with your colleagues, you’ll participate in workshops, be guided through one or more Practica courses, get coaching from Civilla design experts, and make significant progress applying HCD to priority projects.

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