Better Together: Integrating Data Science and Human Centered Design

Presenter: Peter Bull (Driven Data) and Chris Larkin (

Level:  All

This workshop explores how data science can be effectively integrated into a human-centered design (HCD) approach to social impact innovation, for more holistic, engaging and scalable solutions.

HCD is a creative approach to problem solving that starts with building a deep empathy for the people you are designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to to suit their needs. Human-centered design consists of three phases. In the Inspiration Phase designers learn directly from people, immersing themselves in the lives of end users to deeply understand their needs. The Ideation Phase focuses on synthesis of learnings, identifying opportunities for design, and prototyping possible solutions. At Implementation Phase solutions are brought to life, and eventually, to market.

When integrated into this process data science has the potential to amplify the impact that HCD solutions can achieve. Data science can frame and set direction for human-centered design challenges, by illuminating the prevalence of experiences and behaviours across a population, surfacing potential drivers and barriers, and segmenting the target groups who are integral to, and will most benefit from, design solutions. Analytics can bolster the research and measurement that is inherent to a HCD approach through identifying appropriate samples for design research, enabling lean and rapid measurement of prototypes and, ultimately, quantifying the effectiveness of implemented solutions over time. HCD processes and tools bring nuance and richness to these statistical inferences, by observing human interactions, gathering stories from the field, and delving deep into user experience journeys to understand the critical moments and levers that can lead to greater engagement and deeper outcomes.

In this workshop, we will lead participants through the human-centered design process and its intersection with data science, via a public interest design challenge that is personally relatable to attendees. Through guided small-group exercises, we will introduce participants to design thinking at the inspiration, ideation and implementation stages of solution development. Participants will experience the roles of designer and user, as they work through HCD inspiration and ideation processes, engaging with data insights and their own human experiences to reach solutions for implementation.

Audience :

  • Data Scientists interested in designing end-to-end solutions for users
  • Project managers and policymakers interested in learning how data + design can create effective solutions
  • Problem solvers that want new tools for their toolbox