Designing for Needs – Episode 2

Designing for Needs – Episode 2

In the previous episode, we shared four stages of designing a human centric product. In this post, we will discuss how you can create valuable concepts for your idea.

5 – Gathering User Observations

Once the research plan is drafted and the hypotheses have been laid out, the next step is to put your plans into action. In the previous post “Designing for Needs – Part One”, we discussed that the foundation of valuable digital products is designing according to human needs. And for designers, an effective way to go about it is to go out on the field, approach the people who will ultimately be using their products and interview them. Based on these interviews, observations can be made which will eventually help in identifying the features of their application.

Depending on the number of users you plan to interview, user observation is a fast way to gauge the user experience you need to design for. An effective way to do that is to have a four member team interview end users at the least. The first researcher focuses on guiding the users through the interview, the second takes notes, the third person captures photos, while the fourth team member records the audio of the entire interview. A qualitative approach is necessary so be sure to balance out the time you spend on user interviews followed by short and immediate analysis.

6 – Synthesis

Once you have your research data, the next step is to head back at your office and synthesize your findings. Synthesizing the data gathered helps in finding the meaning behind your research and figuring out whether they bring you closer or further away from your goals. The more qualitative data you have, the more meaning you can extract from it. The interviews will also help you answer the following questions:

  • Were the hypothesis validated?
  • Does the interview reveal any gaps in our knowledge?
  • What are the common pain points of the interviewees?

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To spare yourself from being overwhelmed by the several notes you took from the interviews, classify your observations. And the best way to make sure nothing is missed, write down each observation from your interviews on sticky notes and make a cluster of these for each interview session. Once you group common points from all the observations gathered during the interviews, it will give you a better direction towards identifying the opportunity areas for you to benefit from.

7 – Opportunity Areas

Synthesis means making sense of the data you and your team has collected so far. Synthesizing findings in a group helps define patterns and narrowing down possible opportunities that can be capitalised towards possible design considerations. To do this, pull out the common points from each interview and cluster them together. For each cluster, identify the opportunity area for your product and place it above the cluster with a different color of stickies.

Let’s say that you want to design software that helps field workers engage with one another. From user interviews, one of the most common complaints involved keeping in touch with team members on the field. This can be your opportunity area which you may use to ideate possible solutions that might solve this problem.

8 – Concepts

Taking a human centric approach means figuring out their needs from the problems they face and finding possible solutions for them. Once the problems have been defined, it’s time to devise initial concepts that might resolve these problems and later refine them into key concepts that will eventually translate into your product’s valuable features.

An effective way to do this is to ask individual team members how they would approach a problem, have them devise several solutions for it on their own and later, put all of them together, discuss, and refine the concepts.

If we take forward the example concerning interaction problems of field workers, here is an example of how this process might work out:

  • Initial Concept 1 – GPS location detection or offline syncing capabilities as initial concepts while acknowledging connectivity problems on the field.
  • Initial Concept 2 – Solving attendance issues through a selfie based attendance system from the worker’s smartphone.
  • Refined Concept – Marking of attendance through a selfie in an application, which has offline syncing enabled so that the attendance is marked with the timestamp and pushed on the server whenever connectivity is available.

With refined concepts, you now have the valuable features that would go into development. The next steps are to create designs and push the product towards the development team, so that a human centered product comes to life.

Wrapping Up

This wraps up our second episode for designing for user needs. Once again, a human centered approach is essential to create products that fulfil user and your own goals. Here is a short video to summarize this topic:

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