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Human Centered Design

By March 25, 2017March 26th, 2017No Comments
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We get it. You’re immersed in your business, day in, day out. You’re busy, running a company or a department or working on your startup. You have goals, you are driven, and you know the focus and effort you have to give to meet those deadlines or find investors.

But often that focus can cause you to fail.

Yeah, you read that correctly.

Focus = Failure.

It’s hard to pull back from your personal perspective, day to day duties and deadlines. As innovators and designers who frequently have quick turnarounds for projects, we can relate. But pulling back, stepping out, and looking through a wider lens can be the solution for that long running problem plaguing your evenings.

At Beckett Industries, we work with our clients via a human-centered design approach. This approach allows us to solve the most pressing problems for the companies we choose to work with. We find that this methodology inspires and creates long-lasting, economically sustainable solutions, much more so than the ‘one-size-fits-all’ pre-packaged proposals many marketing and ad agencies pitch to potential customers.

Ultimately, our drive is to answer the question ‘how do we win?’ And winning for us is winning for you. This is how we start.


What is Human Centered Design, exactly?

Simply put, human-centered design is creating solutions – for products, services, developing systemic processes and more – that focus on understanding the people you are trying to reach. You are creating from another’s perspective, empathizing with the end user of your product or service.

Understandably, being so immersed in your company and the smaller, tedious things that often are a time suck (but usually very necessary) can hinder that viewpoint. Which is why as outsiders to your daily grind, the Beckett Industries team can offer unexpected, innovative solutions to help your company change and grow with times.

It’s Diverse

While we all bring different skills to the table, we are all designers (and so are you, by the way) Regardless of our ‘official’ titles, we are:

  • Inspired to create
  • Driven by processes
  • Seekers of information
  • Problem solvers
  • & Innovative thinkers

The mythical idea of a ‘creative’ as someone who floats around and doesn’t have any direction is just that. A myth.

Design is business, regardless if your role is content writer or graphic designer or developer of killer strategy-gasms.

Creativity is just inherently part of the mindset of us as individuals. What’s different is how we choose to express it.

These diverse backgrounds (but similar goals) help us to address problems from different perspectives.  They frame our approach to understanding the end user we are designing for.

It’s Collaborative

We collaborate. With our team and with our clients. With others, we pull in who provide valuable insight to our end goals. We ask questions, provide feedback, and challenge each other. Solutions don’t happen in a box.

It’s Dynamic

Things shift as more knowledge is gained and we learn more about the end user or customer.  Components are added or taken away, ideas are expanded upon or tossed aside And that’s okay…

It’s Experimental

…because of this. Human-Centered Design is innately experimental. Creating a product or providing a service that meets the needs of an end user- an actual human- means that you have to try things out.

We spitball ideas, sometimes crazy ideas, during our initial iteration process. We narrow down our options. We test our theories. We use qualitative and quantitative data to help validate what we implement.

However, an empathetic attitude and a realization that you are creating for real live people and not a computer program means that sometimes you’re going to have to make some changes to get to the best possible place.

So, we experiment. Quickly, refining as we go. Failing fast means we don’t fail in the long run.

It’s Empathetic

Empathy is the driver behind human-centered design. Instead of coming at a problem with preconceived notions about what the answer might be, we put ourselves in the place of the people who will need or want your product. What do they do for a living? What’s their daily routine? How can we meet their needs in a way that is relevant to their lives?

ANNND… It’s a Process

Taking inspiration from the granddaddy of Human Centered Design Thinking, IDEO, we use their basic template to start our process. You’ll see much of what we discussed above embedded within this outline.

1. Observation: We need to know who we are designing for. At this stage, we research patterns of behavior, demographics, pain points and more of target end-users. This often involves creating in-depth personas and mapping a user journey.

How would our fictional personas reach your product? What is their daily life like, and where does what we are designing fit in? Data mining, surveys, in-person interviews and questionnaires may be part of the process. Sometimes, we’ll hop on a plane or tag along with a truck driver or shadow a teacher for a day. Whatever we have to do to make sure we truly understand how the end user thinks, feels and experiences life.

2. Ideation: Using our work during the observation phase, our next step isw the real fun stuff. Ideation involves lots of ideas (duh).  Lots and LOTS of ideas, all developed with a focus of the needs and desires of who we are designing for. As long as we keep that in mind, any and all ideas are game.
Sometimes it looks like:
-lots of post-it notes
-whiteboard sketching
-awkward acting scenarios
-heated conversation
-scribbled note-taking
-collaboration again
-walks around the neighborhood
-skateboarding through the office
-riding a unicycle
-endless cups of coffee
– & cocktail breaks

3. Quick Prototyping: Here, we narrow down our ideas and make them tangible, creating a simple outline of our concept. While it’s easy to picture this for a physical product or even a website or app; visualizing a rapid prototype for service-based design can seem a little confusing.

To clarify, look at rapid prototyping as rapid experimentation. Running different tests to reach end users, either for free or at very low cost, allow us to validate our design. This could be simple wireframes for an app, or origami-style cardboard concepts for a physical product. For a service-based industry, this could look like A/B ad testing, variants on landing pages, email campaigns and more.

The ideas behind this stage is to save time and money, creating a simple prototype that allows you to get user feedback as quickly as possible. This isn’t the end solution, but rather making sure that the solution is heading in the right direction.

This is the basis of our ‘fail fast’ mentality. No one wants to waste effort or money on something that’s not going to work.


4. User Feedback: Simple- we present our prototype, run our experiments, and track the results.

5. Iteration:  Now we use that feedback and evolve design as needed. Then experiment again. And again. Maybe again. Each round provides something new.

6. Implementation: You’ve validated your results. You KNOW you have a solid design. Now it’s time to officially put it into play. Congrats. Nice job.

But- it’s never really over. With each new product, service, update or insight, you’re continuing this process, using past data and newly discovered feedback to direct future solutions.

The ever evolving nature of Human Centered Design Thinking is why this works (and also what makes it so fun for our team). Understanding that we must involve the users early in the process and continue to do so throughout every touchpoint means that we are avoiding costly mistakes and useless efforts that won’t generate revenue or results.

As new insights, areas of expertise, a shifted business focus, different growth goals or potential new end users arise, we are able to continually create design that works with this human-centric model. 

And yes, we give a damn. And we like winning. This is how we do it.

Tony Beranek

Author Tony Beranek

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