Hey, Visitor, nice ta meetcha.  I'm Maire and humans are my speciality.  We outta be the center of any design project, right?  So let's look at how you do that.

copy-of-ideos-6-step-human-centered-design-process_There's an awful lot of design that's been done without considering the humans at the core of it all.  One company that makes a clear and powerful effort to keep humans front and center is IDEO.  They have a philosophy of design that starts, revolves around, and finishes with humans.  They call in Human Centered Design.

It's a pretty cool process and it's made them one of the premier design firms in the last 50 years.  They've won awards, worked with top companies like Apple, Microsoft, Tadoº, and Lee Jeans, and started a open global collaborative to solve some of the world's biggest problems today.  But I'm getting sidetracked by my admiration for the company.

What I'd like you to do is read the poster I've linked on the right - it talks about their human-centered design process, outlines the six steps, and gives some mini-case-studies.  While you read it, look for the two key approaches IDEO uses in human-centered design. Do that now - I'll wait for you.  G'wan now.



Right, you all finished reading, Visitor?  Then it's time to get yourself a partner.  Your next step is to find a partner (it's best with two, but you could be a trio if you really must) and print out a copy of our human-centered design observation form for each partner.

Decide on where/who you'd like to observe.  Some possibilities include the coffee and food vendors on campus; administrative offices; grounds keepers; library; and physical education offices. (Classrooms are not appropriate for this job.)   You will:

  1. Discuss your plan with Number One.  Get clipboards and pens;
  2. Go to your chosen location and
    1. politely ask permission to observe quietly and take notes for a class project
    2. if you are not given permission, return to the classroom immediately and return to step 1;
  3. Quietly observe, taking notes on your HCD Observation form;
  4. After 20 minutes, return to the classroom;
  5. Debrief your observation with Number One.

Progress, Visitor, progress.  Now, if you want to go on to mastery for this job (and I recommend it to ya), here's what you'll need to do:

  1. Take a sheet of A3 paper and your observation form and create ideas about how you could improve your subject's job/process/work/environment; come up with as many as you can in 20 minutes;
  2. Sit down with your partner(s) and review your ideas together; look for the strength and weaknesses of each idea; look for ideas with a simple execution and a high impact (15 minutes max);
  3. Think for a minute or so about the entire experience so far: reading, observing, ideating, discussing, and evaluating.
  4. Discuss again, sharing your observations about the process.  What worked well?  What could be improved about this process (not the client's!);
  5. Write up a 1-page summary (together) of the experience.  Be sure to include:
    1. Who you selected to observe and why,
    2. A brief summary (1-2 paragraphs of 6-10 sentences) of your observations of the client,
    3. The key pain points you identified,
    4. Your main ideas (not all of them, just the top few)
    5. Your suggestions for the next steps, if this client were really hiring us
    6. Your observations and suggestions about this human-centered design observation process.  How can we make this work better for future Nolat Labs projects?

Turn in the report to Number One by linking it here.

Top notch, Visitor.  Keep this human-centered design process in mind for your own projects; they're nearly guaranteed to be better if you use it.

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