Listening to Their Stories
What a strange time to be alive! I turn the T.V. on and I put on the news. I hear as they talk about how Coronavirus drastically changed our lives. I put on another channel just to hear about how people’s injustice is an attack on our basic humanity. By this time sadness is invading me as I start to lose faith in mankind. Just then I remember other good things going on in our world, like how pollutants and greenhouse gases are down almost 50% compared to this time last year. Or, how thousands of people have come together to celebrate and defend black culture. After a couple minutes of reflecting on this reality and finding hope, I realize how valuable and precious life perspective is, as well as how it can be applied to my profession.
A professional would explain the concept of Life Perspective as a: “Sociological way of defining the process of life through the context of a culturally defined sequence of age categories that people are normally expected to pass through as they progress from birth to death.”
In the product design field you cannot work on your own. Depending on the project you are working on, you have to work with psychologists, teachers, therapists, scientists, dentists, etc. However the one and most important person who will be with you throughout the whole process is the user. Users are those who will utilize the product or service on a daily basis. It means they will be primarily affected by what you create, positively or negatively. As designers our primary focus should be solving the needs of the user through innovation, and this naturally implies listening to and studying them.
User stories are their perceptions. We perceive based on what we have experienced, allowing life perspectives to affect our understanding of things. Users views are vital for any design we want to be friendly. When a designer makes a thorough investigation on those who will use the creation, and listens to what they have to say before it’s even produced, is when the user experience goes from good to great.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
This famous phrase was said by Henry Ford after he created his first automobile. As controversial as it is, it refers to the reality that what we think we need, isn’t necessarily what we actually need. All this to say yes, work along with users, hear them out, but also have designer discernment to figure out the best balance for an amazing creation.
When I stared doing products, I was far more concerned about them being aesthetically pleasing than them being functional. And to be honest, the biggest difference between younger me and current me as a designer is the importance I give to the user in the process and after the product is released.
At the end of the day, that’s what design is about. Generating feelings, solutions and mindsets to make life a little bit better. Let’s be user-centric designers who create in a holistic way benefiting the environment, society and the economy.