Uncovering real world design opportunities to better serve people in the .

We recently attended a fantastic CIID People-Centred workshop, facilitated by IDEO trained researchers. It was hosted at the UNOPS headquarters in Copenhagen. During this intense week, our team at Marino Software got to refine our research process and work hand-in-hand with people in the United Nations and from all over the world.

We got to refine our user research process and work hand-in-hand with people in the United Nations and from all over the world.

It was so enriching to get all these different perspectives into global issues — as we often forget how our backgrounds can affect how we perceive the world. Things can be so different depending where you come from!

Workshop themes were also particularly interesting since they were all around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a ‘universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity’

UN SDGs

Day 1 — Researching The Future of Energy

We often forget design research is not just a phase but a journey. We should not treat research in isolation from the design process but carry it throughout the project to inspire design at different stages.

We need to make a shift from a linear process where insights are handed to designers to a constant adaptation of our process — checking in with real people at different stages.

For our workshop, our design brief focused on the Clean energy goal (#7): to ‘ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’.

Our design brief

Since we were all consumers, we began by sharing our experiences with energy providers from our own countries — Ireland, Japan, India, Finland, Denmark, China… you name it! Our international class was a great way to get a quick overview of people’s relationship with energy and its providers in a very short time.

Sharing our experiences with energy providers

We identified some patterns and differences and started writing down the big questions we wanted to answer in the coming days:

Big questions we wanted to answer

“Design research is about more than describing the now, it’s about the next” 
 — Day 1, People Centered Research workshop

Design research is about more than describing the now, it’s about inspiring the next. Answering these questions would not only help us understand people’s current relationship with energy, renewables and their providers but help to shape their future perceptions and behaviours.

Day 2 — Problem solving starts with people

People-centred design is all about digging in to find out about people’s real needs, concerns, preferences and perceptions — not about relying on our assumptions as we would often do a lot when designing or building a product.

People-centred design is all about digging in to find out about people’s real needs, concerns, preferences and perceptions

So, how can we achieve this? Just going outside and talking to real people! Sounds easy, right? Who do we want to talk to, though? First, we’ll need to figure out who we could learn the most from.

Who do we want to learn from?

Since we got a fairly good idea of what the core user behaviours might be by sharing our knowledge and experiences as a group, we looked for interviewees that would lean towards the ‘extremes’ — whose behaviours and beliefs we could learn the most from:

Core users and extreme users. Graph by IDEO.

These were people who produce their own energy, have their own business, live in large houses or own electric cars — to name a few. We also got to talk to some experts in the energy sector to hear their perspectives.

‘Extreme’ behaviour users help us get further, identify sparks of potential beliefs or behaviours we might not have thought about

‘Extreme’ behaviour users help us get further, identify sparks of potential beliefs or behaviours we might not have thought about. These people would also help us understand less expressed beliefs in core people. Applying these learnings to other people would help us foresee future behaviours.

‘Interview day out’

We went out and interviewed Mercedes, a Peruvian street food business owner. She helped us understand her relationship with energy in a business and domestic level. It was very interesting to hear from her — she told us about how she learns to manage energy to run her business and home and about her perceptions and feelings towards sustainability.

‍In-context interview with Mercedes

We also had to carry out shorter interviews with other people we would meet (known as ‘intercepts’) about energy and sustainability. We were extremely lucky and got to talk to a good variety of people with different perceptions. It ranged from live-in and shared apartment students, a scientist, a nurse and even a person writing a thesis on windmills!

It’s pretty amazing to see who you could bump into just by asking around. I guess it’s hard to break the ice and get started but once you do it you just want to talk to more people to keep learning more and more!

It’s pretty amazing to see who you could bump into just by asking around. I guess it’s hard to break the ice and get started but once you do it you just want to talk to more people to keep learning more and more!

Our multilingual interview notes and our intercept portraits

Day 3 — Sharing our research

We came back and shared the stories of what we saw, heard and felt with the group. It was not time for hunches and analysis yet, it was all about immersing other people into what we experienced.

“Sharing our research in the form of stories and frameworks helped us to create a shared understanding”
 — Day 3, People Centered Research workshop

We shared our 5 top takeaways and quotes that would bring our interviewee to life along with our ‘intercepts’ findings. Even though these were shorter interviews they were in some ways as insightful as our in-context interview.

Sharing our research in the form of stories and frameworks helped us to create a shared understanding.

‘Downloading’ our findings and sharing our research with the group

Day 4 — Making sense of what we learnt

From our findings we drew our insights: actionable statements about people’s behaviours and motivations that would drive design.

‘Insights’ are not necessarily an average of our findings. We can be inspired by the tiniest observation, even if you only find it in one person

‘Insights’ are not necessarily an average of our findings. We can be inspired by the tiniest observation, even if you only find it in one person. Common on not, both types of findings are equally valid when it comes to driving the design forward.

Identifying design opportunities

From our insights, we established some design opportunities in the shape of How Might We’s (HMW). HMWs helped us reframe our insights in a way that would inspire our design solutions.

Writing HMWs is always challenging. You need to make sure you are not ‘indirectly’ describing solutions but carefully craft these to be as open as possible and help you design a user-centered solution. This step is pretty similar to what we already do in our Design Sprints.

After identifying a problem, we don’t necessarily need to directly map it to an answer. Instead, we should focus on revealing design opportunities that align to our insights

This workshop was also a good refresher to remember that after identifying a problem, we don’t necessarily need to directly map it to an answer. Instead, we should focus on revealing design opportunities that align to our insights.

Presenting our insights and HMWs and Taku, the walking post-it

Identifying our personas

The day before we got to engage in a few people’s stories, which fed our personas — quick fictional pictures of typical users. These characters would be based on people’s needs and attitudes, not on demographics. This is the main difference between marketing personas and design personas.

“Design research is based on needs or attitudes, not on demographics”
 — Day 4, People Centered Research workshop

To create our personas we first had to find the clusters our interviewees fit into. To find them, we had to figure out what would be the best axis to compare them against and discuss with the other research groups which people’s behaviours were more similar or distinct.

Discussing similarities and differences between interviewees

The process of trying out different axis variations helped us get to know everyone’s interviewees better — and overall, get a better picture of people’s behaviours

I found the exercise of choosing the axis very interesting. Even though we had to iterate a few times until we started recognising the right clusters, the process of trying out different variations helped us get to know everyone’s interviewees better — and overall, get a better picture of people’s behaviours.

‍Trying out different axis

Day 5 — Wrapping up!

It was the last day so we had to wrap up what we had learned and present it to the rest of the people on the other workshops run as part of the CIID Summer School that week. Since our workshop outcomes were personas, every team had to present their developed persona.

We were free to choose how to present them so our team decided to role play our persona to have a bit of fun.

Our lovely group on the last day

Key takeaways

1 — Reinforce the need to be in touch with real people. User research shouldn’t be a nice to have, but a must have. We often skip through this step due to budget or time constraints and end up having a very limited perspective into people’s real needs. When this happens we don’t really design for our users but mostly for ourselves, for our own assumptions of what a product should be.

2 — Refine our user research process. User research is not new for us at Marino Software. We’ve done it before, but probably in a not so systematic manner. Learning from highly experienced user researchers and from the IDEO methodology has helped us fine-tune our process.

3 — Get inspired by different types of user research. User research is not just about interviewing people. There are plenty of other was to empathise with our users and step into their shoes, even if it’s just for a short while. Our facilitators Kate and Shruti gave us plenty of interesting examples of different kinds of user research such as analogous or immersive research.

4 — Motivation to implement these new learnings. CIID is such a great environment. You learn at such a high pace with such an amazing bunch of people that all you want is to apply your learnings as soon as you get back to the office.

We are looking forward to enhancing our research process to create better products at Marino Software. What do you not know about your users? How do you think user research could help your product?



Source link https://uxdesign.cc/inspiring-the-future-through-user-research-2eec6d517f07?source=rss—-138adf9c44c—4

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