Talk takeaways: designing better products

2019-01-25

Yesterday we joined the good folks at Norrsken House, Europe’s biggest hub for impact and technology. The house is a light and plant-filled space where entrepreneurs with a vision to make the world a better place are supported on their journeys. We have worked with a few young companies here at Norrsken and recently joined to support Norrsken in their mission as a Rocket Partner.

Two of our Oceanites, Olle and Emma ran a session on building better products with human-centric design over a busy lunchtime this week. The talk focused on two elements of a design process, critical to placing people’s needs at the core of the process. Gathering insights that have significance to your work and exploring how to prototype ideas at the right level.

Emma focused on gathering insights, the project phase which sets our foundation. She explained the importance of this work to understand the problems people are facing and the context any design solution will eventually exist in. Starting with a broad overview of the types of data like qualitative, analytics and increasingly interesting ML (machine learning) data from which insights can be drawn, she then expanded on how to immerse your team in human qualitative research. Exploring the assumptions we all make when selecting participant criteria and combining research methods to reduce bias she helped the audience understand how to prepare for design research. Both the upside of detailed preparation and an expectation that your research plan may go out the window as soon as you start talking to real people were mentioned as essential aspects of fieldwork. Emma walked us through the ups and downs of early insight gathering using a case study where Ocean has been working to create new insights for a weather forecasting company in Ghana.

Olle smoothly picked up where Emma left off, bringing us from rural Ghana to Karlstad, a small municipality in central Sweden to demonstrate that sometimes lo-fi prototypes made of paper and tape can be exactly what the project needs. This case study addressing adolescents dealing with mental health concerns exemplified how breaking down the problem to form a step-by-step prototyping approach can help a great service to emerge. This approach incorporated the essential parts of an existing system and yet addressed the problems head-on with new thinking. He touched on the need to have the support of key stakeholders when bringing new prototypes to a user group, before heeding the warning of making prototypes too shiny and polished before their time. He explained that when placing a finished-looking prototype in someone’s hands it invites them to scrutinise details and not overall concepts or service solutions. Olle wrapped up with the importance of gathering feedback from all stakeholders of the service to stay immersed in their needs.

We’d like to thank the audience at Norrsken for so many curious questions and Norrsken House for hosting, we look forward to coming back to expand on the how human-centric design can help to build better services, products and companies.

If you’d like to catch a talk by Ocean, we usually post upcoming events on our linkedin page or Instagram, or if you host events and are looking for something similar feel free to reach out about us coming to give a session.

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