​​Design Kit: The Course for Human-Centered Design – summarised

Some highlights from my notes from Ideo and +Acumen’s Design Kit: The Course for Human-Centered Design.

The steps of the Human-Centered Design process

“Human-centered design is all about building a deep empathy with the people you’re design for; generating tons of ideas; building a bunch of prototypes; sharing what you’ve made with the people you’re designing for; and eventually putting your innovative new solution out in the world.”

Human-centered design is based on creating opportunities for “high-impact solutions to bubble up from below rather than being imposed from the top.”

You can use this approach for

  • Products
  • Services
  • Spaces
  • Systems

Start by choosing a design challenge. Collect your thoughts; review what you already know; define what you don’t know; review constraints or barriers.

You move through three spaces (not always sequentially):

  • Inspiration – exploring the design challenge. “Too abstract and the brief risks leaving the project team wandering; too narrow a set of constraints almost guarantees that the outcome will be incremental and, likely, mediocre.”
    “learn directly from the people you’re designing for as you immerse yourself in their lives and come to deeply understand their needs and aspirations.”

    “focus groups and surveys, rarely yield important insights. In most cases, these techniques simply ask people what they want..” But people aren’t good at expressing their needs or imagining possibilities. As Henry Ford said – people would have wanted a faster horse. (Case Study: Clean Team toilets in Ghana. When interviewed, people said they’d prefer to dispose of their own waste if it could save them money, and were reluctant to allow service people into their homes. However, when they prototyped: people quickly realised the value of someone else handling waste disposal. A good reminder that self-report is highly flawed. Similarly, Ideo: Rockefeller Foundation health project in Bangkok: a Burmese immigrant self-reported as having no network, but actually it became clear in interview that she had a strong network.)

    Research methods: Learn from people, learn from experts, immerse yourself in context, seek analogous inspiration
    After each research item: Regroup, pull out sound-bites, interesting or surprising stories, interesting interactions and remaining questions. Don’t try to interpret yet – that comes later.

  • Ideation – Exploring your design opportunities. Generating, developing and testing ideas. Distil insights from research. Brainstorm to generate ideas – and withhold judgement.
    Linus Pauling: “To have a good idea you must first have lots of ideas” And you need multidisciplinary teams with multidisciplinary people to make interesting connections.
  • Implementation – Making your concept real and a sustainable success. “the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives”. Prototyping is at the core of this – turning ideas into products and services that you test, iterate and refine. Prototyping – “cheap, quick, and dirty” helps de-risk the process. Have a main idea for the prototype to convey, and test that idea.

Mindsets of a Human-Centered Designer

  • Learn from Failure: “Don’t think of it as failure, think of it as designing experiments through which you’re going to learn.” Through prototyping, you’re de-risking by making something simple first, and checking it early in the process.
  • Creative Confidence “the notion that you have big ideas, and that you have the ability to act on them.”
  • Empathy – you can’t come up with any new ideas if you don’t go beyond your own life.
  • Embrace Ambiguity – Let multiple ideas exist simultaneously. You don’t know upfront what’s going to work out.
  • Be Optimistic
  • Iterate, Iterate, Iterate “we gain vaildation along the way… because we’re hearing from the people we’re actually designing for.”

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