Do you still remember in last weeks’ blog, the part where I spoke out about the design processes and stages? Ugh! Don’t worry  about that, I know it has been a long and perhaps a rough week for you. Just in case you want to review it click right here.

Well, before I give you a quick glance about last week (16th -20th AUG) events in our Design Studio I have a question for you, have you ever dived before? I know it is scary sometimes but all you need in order to dive in any water source is patience, confidence, some goggles, a snorkel and harpoon for chasing the sharks and piranhas away.

Are you still wondering how diving is related to engineering stuff? Just stick beside me till the end and you are going to find out what kind of interesting relationship exists between them.

If you are interested in diving one day, it’s better to take a shallow dive into the deepest waters rather than taking a deep dive into the shallow waters. This is what we have been doing for the last week in our Design Studio.

Within the last week it was not just about Design but Human Centered Design (HCD). HCD is the core part of the design process which involves the conversion of ideas into reality in order to not only solve problems, but to also fulfill the user’s needs and a little bit of wants. HCD relies on understanding the user’s needs not only in solving the problem whereas a design may solve the problem but fail to fulfill the user’s needs. A designed product might be fully functional, but it’s not reliable, not easy to use, less safe and less environmentally friendly. This is what we call a design failure. The main aim of HCD is to remove the design failures by better understanding the users of the device and their surrounding environments rather than just the problem that they are facing.

Why then should we as designers deal with the users and environment rather than the problem itself? It’s confusing isn’t it? Below are the reasons why we are supposed to interact with users and the environment while trying to solve the problem.

  • You can’t discuss the solutions to be made with the problem itself.
  • You need to get familiarity with the problem by interacting with the users and the environment.

How are we going to interact with users and the environment in order to get more valuable information about the problem? Wait !! I have an epiphany. I think we are supposed to do Needs Exploration. Needs Explorations!!! What is it then? It’s the process of identifying and understanding opportunities and threats associated within the chosen strategic area before developing any new solutions. It’s important for us designers to do Needs Exploration before diving into making any new solutions or innovations. There are three tools which can be helpful in the Needs Exploration stage which are Observation,  combinational background research and interviews.  

Observation is the most effective and efficient tool used by designers to do Needs Exploration. This tool involves the use of sensory organs such as eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. This tool demands empathy from the designer, and it’s the most effective tool for interacting with the environment. Sorry I forgot to inform you that, if you have a sixth sense you are allowed to use it, it’s a good thing to do also.

Interview is the verbal interaction between two or more people. This tool helps the designer to interact thoroughly with the users to get more information about the problem. Interview is used to obtain data and information which the observation technique has failed to obtain from the environment.

Combinational background research. The funny and interesting thing about design is: there are no new problems in the field. Most of them are related to each other in one way or another. The aim of combinational background research is to back up the information obtained by using observation and interview tools. This tool enables you as a designer and innovator to go through different archives to obtain what has ever been written regarding the problem.

Right now, I think you are trying to ask yourself what are we going to do with the obtained information from both users and the environment. Well, the obtained information is going to be used to formulate themes. Then themes are used to form insights, and from insights how can we (HCW) statements can be formed.

For your design to be HCD, it must be economically viable, technologically feasible and desirable by users.


The three circles of Human Centered Design

The reason behind why this week felt like we were in a deep dive practice is we have gained more skills and techniques in design skills like the Engineers we are supposed to be. For the first time I thought the design process is just manufacturing a device or prototype, but now I understand that it requires more than a device in order to tackle the problem. For you as a designer you need both the information and data from the users and environment so as to be more effective and efficient in the design process. Don’t miss out on the next blog. More interesting news is there for you as a designer.

Emmanuel Leone Barnaba 

DIT Design Studio,© 2021.


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