The success of a product or service is rooted in user experience. It’s this simple, yet powerful premise that has made human-centred design gain traction across all major business sectors around the world, says Stuart McDougall, Managing Director at Tenaka, a human-centred design agency, which is helping blue-chip clients across a wide range of financial services and other business industries to develop products and services that meet and exceed customer expectations.
There’s no point in wasting significant time and financial resources on developing products and services that don’t meet your customers’ needs. While that might seem like stating the obvious, there are still many businesses in South Africa today who are completely missing the mark, when it comes to understanding their customers.
The success of every single product and service available in the world today is rooted in the user’s experience. A negative experience will drive customers away, while a positive experience will keep them coming back and encourage more users. It’s this simple, yet powerful premise that has made human centered design gain traction across all major business sectors around the world.
What is human centred design?
Still a relatively new concept in the South African business landscape, human centered design takes business problem solving and puts a creative spin on things. The key is to keep your customer wants, needs, challenges and desires at the core of the process at all times. It’s a process that begins with the people you are designing a product and service for, and ends with a solution that is specifically tailored to their needs.
Previously, traditional brainstorming sessions would involve a group of people representing the product or service, all trying to figure out what different customers may want from their product.
The human centred design approach instead places the focus back on the customer, and drives engagement through the customer experience. In other words, it creates insights based on actual customer experiences and feedback and implements these insights into the product’s final design.
Getting into the trenches
Getting into the trenches doesn’t mean you’re fighting a battle, rather it means you’re immersing yourself in the world of your consumers, recognising the problems they face, understanding them, and using that information to develop solutions to address them.
The core idea behind human centred design is to engage with your target market or key demographics by participating in their problems to develop solutions that will help them solve those problems.
Engagement with customers lies at the core of Human-Centred Deign. It involves extensive research, interviews and discussions with the people who will ultimately become your customers. Organisations need to get down into the trenches and immerse themselves in the world of their customers to understand their daily challenges. That is the only way that these organisations can develop, design and create a product or service that will address their customers’ needs.
The ultimate goal is to provide yourself with the tools to design and implement usable systems, or systems that prioritise user experience over all else. Often products that are designed this way are the most successful because they are user-friendly, their users ultimately become more loyal to the brand, and finally customers may even be prepared to pay a premium for well-designed products and systems.
The key phases
The magic of human-centred design is that corporate clients have the opportunity to hear directly from their customers, the people that they are designing a specific product or service for. Human centred design usually follows three distinct phases to arrive at a specific outcome.
Find out: During this inspirational stage the creative agency will guide corporate clients through a process where they will be immersed in the world of their target audience. They will gain a clearer idea of their customers’ daily challenges, needs, wants and desires.
Get ideas: This is one of the most exciting stages of the process. Our corporate clients begin to see patterns emerge and start to identify the most common trends among their customers. This process will ultimately lead to the creation of a prototype product or service.
Make it real: This is the final phase of the process, where our corporate clients get to see the reviewed product or service brought to life and eventually launched to market. The best part is that clients know that they have a greater chance of success, because they have kept the needs of their customers at the heart of the process.
Art, heart and technology: Developing products and services with people in mind
At Tenaka’s Tribe, we guide our clients towards a human centered design approach, where we place the people we are designing a product for at the heart of the creative process. This is the fastest route to successful solutions that ultimately make customer lives easier, simpler and more enjoyable.