User-centered design

First things first

An approach that underlies all of our work over that last 21 years has been our focus on our audience; the users of our work. We’ve always taken the view that if we don’t satisfy, surprise and delight our audiences then we aren’t doing our jobs right.

To begin any project we do research into who we are talking to. This gives us an essential grounding, and avoids us making assumptions about what our users most want, and how they will interact.

We get to know our users

Research we have done in the past has been anything from extensive nationwide qualitative research, to a small sample of one-on-one interviews. These are often coupled with desk based research (discovering and using what research has already been done), on-line surveys, focus groups and even activities with groups such as wharfies or school kids.

In doing this we uncover people’s real needs, their motivations and drivers, and we can distinguish different types of behaviours. That all informs how we then design a solution that works for them.

We distill the findings

We will often create personas who typify our various types of users and illustrating them, along with their key drivers, helps us stay focussed on them throughout the project.

We check our bright ideas out
before we make them

An early check back in with users, before a line of code is cut, can also be a great way to check what we’re making is actually what they want.

We have run brilliant, and low-cost, paper testing in the past that has saved us developing features that our users didn’t think were important, and we’ve discovered key findings that have influenced how we structure an experience.

Doing this give us great confidence in what we’re making and how it meets our users needs.

We test again before we release

User testing, which is usually observed, allows further brilliant insights, usually on detailed functions, as well as how easy it is to find what to do next.

We’re also big on getting people to test in their own environments; an app that is designed to be used every day should be taken home and used, then let’s report back and find out the difference between your first use, and your 20th.
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