Friday, April 28, 2017

Panel Discussion: User-Centered Design

Kevin Goldman
Former Chief Design Architect

Michael Flynn, Vice President, Innovation & Strategy,
Bank of the West

Chris Kampf, Director of Product Innovation, Amtrol Inc.
Andy Lee, Senior Manager, Innovation Labs,
Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Deepankar Pant, Senior Brand Manager, Innovation,
Jarden Home Brands

Jonathan Mann, Director, User Experience Design, PayPal

Who’s leading your user-centered design program? Is their team scaling to meet your incredible demands for customer centricity? Although there are 20,000 unfilled experience-design jobs in the U.S., the major design schools graduate only 500 candidates a year. This interactive session featured innovation and design leaders sharing their strategies and tips for getting the most from user-centered design.

Among the insights: Designers have a method in which they think about and solve problems. The key to their problem solving strategy is empathy. Designers must empathize with the user since the user is typically not present during the decision making process. This process involves diverging, converging, ideation, prototyping, and testing. Design-thinking also requires much building, testing, measuring, and pivoting. Kevin Goldman facilitated a panel to share the philosophies, processes, and tools around design-thinking.

  • Best practices to galvanize customer centricity across teams
  • Guidelines to know when and what to in source versus outsource
  • Approaches to measure customer experience and design
  • Vocabulary for successful user-centered company cultures

What have you seen some companies do when it comes to incorporating the customer in the design-thinking process when the customer is not the user?

This can happen in situations where the customer is a wholesaler or distributor of the product, but not necessarily the daily user of the product. It’s important to include all stakeholders in the design-thinking process. Include customers in the conversations because they’re thinking about things totally differently as a stakeholder. They may be considering factors such as merchandising and packaging.

We’re four steps away from the end customer. We’re the manufacturer, than we have a wholesaler and others. The end-user may not even know we’re involved. How do we have that user in mind? How do we innovate in a way that incorporates all customers/users?

Utilize a vast group of sales representatives that can go across the country to get a good cross-section of the demand that is out there. Representations can assess: where there are more types of a specific sale in one region of the country than another, information about the user of the product early on, what they see in the field, and what customers/users are talking.

Field testing is important because users can utilize all of their senses to get a feel for the product and offer their opinions in the process. Users can touch, feel, and see the product and help move the design-thinking process along.

When coming up with the product concept, determine if your plan is cost effective, as well as what the right type of business model would be for your product. Attend trade shows and selectively pull people to get their input to start making decisions regarding design and direction.

There are a variety of ways you can connect with customers and users throughout the process to gather feedback.

I find it interesting you don’t recommend starting with financials after the field test. What if you have a really great product that could be well-received but financials don’t work out? Doesn’t it make sense to confirm financials are not an issue before moving too far along the design process?

A lot of things would probably get killed and never tried if we talk about money first. It’s important to play with the ideas first and create a plan. Once we see if a product can work, we can always figure out how to make it less expensive and keep working at it. We don’t want to preemptively shut down an idea solely because of financials.

The Four “Rights” of User Testing – The following factors are imperative in the design thinking process. If one of these factors is missing, the process does not work. You need to find:

  1. The right users for the product
  2. The right methodology to conceptualize the product, gaining feedback from users, and continuing to design the product
  3. The right analysis. What do you do with your observations? Do you analyze the data properly or are you lost? This step is very important to continue pivoting to create the best product that will be well-received by users
  4. The right time for the product

When developing prototypes, an example of a good field testing strategy is when you actually hand a notebook to a customer during testing and get the customer to sketch their ideal product.

During early prototyping, create products or services that are delightful for customers but increase revenue for the company. Understand what users see as the key challenge and understand what the solutions begin to look like. The key to innovation is enhancing the reward for the customer. Your goal is to make the user experience more joyful and minimize the chore by creating new products or changes to current products that improve usability, speed, efficiency, aesthetics, etc.

Rapid prototyping involves quickly coming up with prototypes that are ready to move into the new product pipeline. Lab testing with both customers and unlikely customers can help move this process forward. One example of this is Google Glass. While many people would think innovation can take a long time, it took less than one day to create the prototype for Google Glass.

Separate market research from the user design process. Market research is really good for understanding the market before actually involving the user. User design is different from building, prototyping, etc. You don’t know the true opportunity until after you’ve involved the user in the process.

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