The best products are ones that solve a problem before people even realize they have them. These products are revolutionary and change the way we live our everyday lives.
Take Uber for example. Uber has completely transformed the taxi industry. It makes finding a ride convenient by giving individuals real-time insight into pick-up times, ride duration and cost. It also allows for cashless payments and increases passenger-driver safety through a rating system. Not only does it solve common issues with taxis – it has created a new, innovative transportation network. Uber was able to achieve such success by taking a ‘human-centered’ approach to design. By using this method, Uber revolutionized the way people do ordinary tasks.
Human-centered design is a user-focused, creative approach to problem-solving. It powers the development of meaningful products real people can connect with. These products help people to not just live well – but live better. When humans are at the center of product design, the results can be surprising and lead designers down new paths of innovation. It can lead to the invention of the ‘right product’, which positively effects consumers in profound ways and solves their deepest struggles.
This may be the most important stage of the human-centered design process. The ‘Empathising’ stage is where designers begin to understand what the users’ needs truly are. First of all, it’s great to have an idea about who the target market is. However, it is also very important not to dive into development with preconceived ideas and expectations of what the problems are and how they should be solved.
Observe people. Talk to them. Be involved with the potential users – they are real people, so connect with them. Find out what makes them tick and what they are finding difficult. Strive to understand their point of view, their experiences and their motivations.
Conducting surveys, running focus groups and contracting individuals directly are all great methods for gathering information. It’s also important to ask the right questions. This means asking open ended questions and adapting to the responses, instead steering the conversation in a particular direction based on assumptions.
Through doing ground research, designers will gain an understanding of what the users need and be able to identify the real problem. This should be summarized as a ‘problem statement’ which clearly describes the core issue to solve. Outlining the problem statement is essential for ensuring that the entire development process is relevant and consistent with what the users need.
Once the problem is understood, it’s time to think of a solution. The ‘Ideation’ stage is where designers brainstorm all ideas and collect them in one place. Here, there are no bad ideas – only raw ideas with the potential to become a solution through refining. It is essential to focus on the users’ needs and desires, while thinking of different ways for solving the problem at hand.
Ideas and information should be gathered from a variety of sources to ensure that all voices are being heard. Involve shareholders, marketers, project managers, designers and potential users in the ideation stage.
This will help lead to a better solution which is both technically and commercially viable.
Designers can then narrow down the ideas by identifying overlaps, strengths and ruling out unhelpful ideas. This when a clear solution will begin to emerge.
Prototyping and User Testing
This is a two-in-one stage, as prototyping and user testing go hand in hand as an integrated process. Here, designers have the opportunity to experiment with tangible designs for the product. This will be done by first creating a few low-fidelity prototypes (LFP). These are rough, proof-of-concept prototypes which are used to conceptualize how the product could work. Each of these will be a slightly different variation of the solution and will be tested on roughly 5-10 potential end-users, or even other members of the design team. Testing will help to iron out any issues earlier on the development process, which will save time, money, frustration and resources.
This part is crucial: designers need to listen to and observe how users interact with the various LFPs. Notice how they naturally tend use it, the ease of use, and feel free to ask more questions. Strive to understand what the strengths and weaknesses are of each LFP. This feedback will help to narrow down an effective final design.
Following this, a high-fidelity prototype (HFP) can be constructed. This will more closely resemble the final solution. The HFP will be tested on a larger group of around 20-50 potential end-users, depending on the market and scale of the product. The purpose of user feedback on HFPs is to adapt and refine the product. Work with the users to create a product that is intuitive to use and that they need.
Now, the product is starting to take shape and it is important to revisit the original problem: does this product solve the issue it is intending to? If not, keep cycling through prototyping, testing and adapting until a successful solution emerges. Otherwise, move on to the final stage…
The product has been conceptualized, prototyped and tested: it is now ready to be released to the world. In order to do this, it’s time to think about how to market the product. The best way to do this is to take the perspective of the end-user and think about what would draw them to this solution. Capitalize on the products’ strengths and present them in a way that will resonate with users.
Looking into the future, the evolution the product does not stop here. The product may continue to evolve and be updated as feedback is received, other issues come to light and new ideas surface.
At Ingenuity, we value the human-centered approach and strive to follow these stages in our design process. We believe that putting the user at the center of product development leads to better solutions. Connect with us to start your journey in developing products that solve the real human problems.