The Product Design & Innovator Tool Kit

Burdette Theatre

The UCD practitioner is in an advantageous position for being able to invent the next break through product or business model. I will be describing how our deep observation of users and studying the market, coupled with analyzing the problems of the business, can lead to taking on a broader role outside project work.

Many ideas fall by the wayside in project work as they are discarded in the ‘requirement gathering’ process. The existing scope, budget or objectives can mean ideas do not have a chance to take hold and develop. Often we are forced into convergent thinking patterns, by being pressured too early, in the rush to come up with solutions. Also at that stage ideas are too raw or half-baked to be articulated clearly into solid strategies with a business case. Yet the potential is there for us to be incredibly creative and not just analytical.

The UCD methodology works incredibly well in the ideation process of new ideas for products. For companies striving to be innovative, a user or customer centric process can be part of the fabric and woven into the DNA of the company culture. Ideas are just hypotheses and the value propositions need to be tested with real users. The earlier they are tested the better, while they are still raw and malleable. Continual testing with real users and iterating/upgrading the offering, through observation of how users interact with the developing product, allows us to tailor the hypothesis into a coherent and total brand promise/solution.

Quantitative and qualitative research methods of the target audience gives a real insight of the challenges, mind sets, habits, pain points, etc that consumers/users face. By focussing on the problems and contextual issues of how the technology & business objectives will impact customers/users this forms key questions for us to further investigate.

The value to the business is getting a mature idea that has come from a systematic valuation process for determining business value quickly or discarded. Ideas that are not just on paper but a working model, that have come out of a process of extensive research and validation with end users.

The total experience of researching, conceptualization, testing and repeated iteration adds to an increased body of knowledge for better hypotheses and products. The learnings are not lost and can be recycled into future ideas.

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