Design with empathy and insight

Have you ever fallen in love with design? Seen a graphical mock-up that really represented your brand spot on in a way you would not know how to describe with words?

The problem with design in digital projects is that people tend to fall in love with different things. When feelings guide project decisions, life as a digital or project manager doesn’t get any easier. There must be a better way.

A design that you really want or a design that you really need?

Contextual research gives us a systematic way of developing a deeper understanding of our users. Using these insights and uncovering what users might be expressing when you read between the lines is one of the cornerstones of empathic design.

What users don’t say is often key. Contextual research gives us a way of developing a deeper understanding of our users. This enables us to not only design with empathy but to identify latent needs that provide opportunities to create breakthrough products and services.

In different projects in the past years, Paul-Jervis Heath has used diary studies, shadowing, contextual interviews plus some informal contextual research techniques. He’s mapped numerous customer journeys, including of buying and using a new kitchen appliance, inventing a machine that means you never order the wrong size shoes online and navigating the future of Open Access publishing

Paul applies human-centred design to help businesses invent their future and is principal at design studio and innovation consultancy Modern Human

Designing intelligent environments for everyday life

The ‘internet of things’ moves technology out of our hands and into the environments we inhabit. Rather than devices that constantly demand our attention, technology can be embedded everywhere; invisible until called upon. This creates a new relationship between us, the environments we inhabit, and the technology in those environments.

In a session on the UX conference track at the J. Boye Aarhus 17 conference, Paul-Jervis Heath will start by exploring our changing relationship with technology based on ethnographic research with early adopters of smarthome devices. He will then present two case studies of designing smart environments: the product design of a suite of kitchen appliances that work together to create ambient intelligence; and a concept for the retail store of the future.

Finally, he will share a framework for designing intelligent environments.

Designing a fundamentally better organisation

If organisations took more time to do design right – understanding those who will use the deliverables – and do it early in the project, it would fundamentally lead to better digital solutions, which is better for the organisation.

With limited budget and compressed timelines, you probably need to fight hard to get space to do it right from the beginning.

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