Have you ever been told that by doing human-centred work you’re stepping on someone else’s toes?

I have heard it a number of times. More and more people are exploring the apparent overlaps between human-centred approaches and other disciplines.

Overlapping responsibilities can be a big problem if you’re perceived to…


I recently wrote about why content is more important than code, but how neither of them are as important as people’s needs.

Code serves content. Content serves people’s underlying needs.

User needs ⟶ Content ⟶ Code

In the course of writing that post, I realised that this sequence can be…


It is difficult to find a phrase that exactly describes my work and the way I approach it.

I’ve started to talk about human-centred approaches. This post explains what I mean by that.

Human-centred approaches include user experience, service design, design thinking, interaction design, lean thinking… Anything that puts humans…


The printing press was the most important technology for the distribution of content — until it wasn’t.

Now print is seen as increasingly irrelevant, usurped by digital distribution methods.

We know this. And yet some people still obsess more about the technology than the content.

My response to a recent…


Over the past year, I have worked to re-shape the team I lead at the University of Edinburgh, hiring people into new content design roles.

(I say new roles, although strictly speaking we evolved them from existing but outdated job titles and descriptions.)

Content design is a relatively new discipline…


The images in this blog post have been compressed for publication on the web. But I have also created a high-quality PDF.

Note: My scanner has made some of the stains look rather more vivid in colour than they do to the naked eye.

In my post about our kitchen…


At the Service Design in Government conference in March, I found myself chatting to a nice person who wasn’t a service designer himself. I don’t remember the details, but I recall that he seemed reasonably senior and worked for a local authority. …


I’m pleased to be speaking at UCD Gathering, a new virtual conference taking place on 15 and 16 October.

A service design approach to improving student experience

I was originally supposed to be giving this talk physically at UX Scotland, but of course that conference has had to be deferred.


In March I attended the fantastic Service Design in Government conference. Each year it brings together service design practitioners from across the public sector and beyond, from across the UK and beyond.

Remember those days, when you could go to a conference? At the time, coronavirus was looming on the…


One of the curious features of lockdown life is how little time I seem to have. Work is busy, life is busy, and the weekends fly by with barely any time to think. You’d think the lack of a commute would at least give something, but seemingly not.

But when…

Duncan Stephen

Pursuits in human-centred approaches — https://duncanstephen.net/

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