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LATEST POST | 16 Nov 2019
AUTHOR | Sam Williams

The Secret To Useful Design

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Human-centred design, a term coined by Stanford d.school, emphasises designing with the needs of users in mind and has been credited with inspiring intuitive products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. However, it’s only recently that the same approach has proven effective for more complex technological design in the enterprise. These fundamental principles of design – placing users at the centre, building empathy and iterative problem solving ­– are proving to be uniquely suited for tackling some of the biggest challenges ANZ organisations face today.

With the advent of design thinking and the growing emphasis on user interfaces, technology developers are increasingly aware of discovering the challenges their users are faced with and putting their needs at the centre of everything they do in developing new technology and apps. User centred design has to be adopted if enterprises are going to develop apps that are useful.

Below is a summary of some key steps involved in a user-centred approach to designing and developing a product or service:

1. Determine your users’ archetypes

At the onset an organisation must determine the archetype or set of common characteristics within their user group. These can be identified through field research methods such as observation, interviews and behavioural analysis.

2. Build customer personas

Once archetypes have been identified, a set of customer personas need to be built – these personas should include superficial ‘profile’ features of your users such as demographic and geographic information, as well as a deeper dive into customer behaviours and their underlying motivations.

3. Create a narrative for your personas

To assist your designers in understanding the user personas, create narratives that are easy to understand and based on interactions, problems or situations your personas may experience in real life. These narratives will inform future design work.

4. Identify useful levels of design work

These are the low-level processes that can be solved as simply as possible. This approach will give enterprise development teams a better understanding of the problem by splitting it into small parts and speed up the time it takes to develop and launch an enterprise app.

Following these steps will enable organisations to produce what is known as a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) - a product with just enough features to gather user feedback. This feedback will be used to inform product changes and re-testing in an iterative loop.

Development can often feel like a slow, arduous task, but it doesn’t have to be. Adopting a bi-modal IT culture, whereby two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility, can allow organisations to ensure that they have the right people, process, and technology to support business initiatives without impacting long-term maintenance projects

In today’s world, getting technology services to market for customers and for enterprise users should take weeks or months, not years. The complexity of the world around us has increased considerably. We not only need to cope with the immense complexity around us every day, but we need to learn to thrive in it.

Sam will be speaking about user-centred design next month at Certus Accelerate Australia. Spaces are filling fast – don’t miss out on your opportunity to understand the technologies, business practices and strategies that are transforming our markets. 

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