It’s interesting to see how we take things for granted until they are taken away, and how we adapt when they’re gone.

It’s early April 2020 in Brisbane and change is all around us. For most people, ‘work’ has changed one way or another – got busier, gone remote, gone altogether. Just a month ago our economy was strong, kids were at school, holidays were being planned, and we could drop in to the local restaurant or coffee shop to catch up with friends and colleagues.

Today we’re staying home and our human connection has been limited to our household and some essential services. We’re so grateful for the technology that allows us to connect via phone or video conference.

Our ability to engage in Human-Centred Design (HCD) can seem like a world away. Traditional research, ideation, and prototyping approaches are characterised by face-to-face contact and energetic conversations. Shifting this will be quite a Design challenge!

Nevertheless, conversations with clients have quickly revealed three reasons why we need HCD now more than ever…

Ensure your team retains a sense of purpose

For many people the work that they do, and their capacity to complete that work, has changed – some activities are no longer relevant, some can’t be done, and other tasks have taken over. The list of projects ‘for when we have time’ or ‘when we have the platform for change’ is in the mix as we re-consider What’s really important? What will add value to our customers and our business?, and importantly What will engage and inspire our team members at this time?

Human-Centred Design is collaborative, fun, and engages all parts of the brain, but even more importantly it helps us identify problems worth solving for people whose experience really matters.  Through HCD projects we are challenged, we build empathy and understanding, we get creative, embrace ambiguity, and build connections. All of these experiences build our capability and mental fitness to handle other challenges that are thrown our way.

By embarking on a HCD project, you’ll give your people a reason to reach out and connect with others in their team, and to connect with the people they are designing for. Meanwhile, customers will appreciate that someone is considering their needs, and seeking to understand how their world has changed. The experiences will have a positive impact on all your team activities, and your wider organisation.

Humans bring technology to life (and life to technology)

Digital transformation been talked about for years, with the focus on the technology requirements and implementation. In the space of a month, many businesses have selected, implemented, and embraced technology and tools. It’s amazing what we can do when we have to!

People have quickly adapted to get the technology working. Video Conferencing has become the norm for a range of activities including team meetings, friendly catch ups, and medical appointments. We’ve learned how to dial, move windows, and hang-up, but this is still only an enabler – it’s the human connection that happens in between that matters most.

HCD now has a role to play in taking this technology and making the end-to-end experience ‘human’ for the users. Together, we can identify the moments where the human connection is missing, and design ways to bring our values, warmth, and authenticity into the room. HCD can help us bring technology to life and life to technology.

Our ‘tomorrow’ will not look the same

Major events change us. The sheer scale of the COVID-19 impacts will mean that our view of the world, what’s possible, and what’s important, will fundamentally change.

As a community, our desire for meaningful human connection in moments that matter will increase. Our tolerance will reduce for poorly designed systems that appear to create waste.  We’ll prioritise our time and focus on doing the things that we’ve identified are truly important to us. Some systems and processes will be directly impacted and require urgent change. Others will need to adapt to the changes in our community. HCD can help us understand the extent and direction of this impact.

Now is the time to use HCD to understand your customers and people. Understand what makes them unique, and ensure that your services are adapting to meet your new customer needs, while reflecting your organisation’s values and capabilities.

Of course, 3rdView is exploring this new environment alongside you. We’re finding new ways to connect and collaborate, and having plenty of ‘first-time user’ moments with technology. It’s an entirely new perspective that’s building our empathy for clients, unlocking our creativity, and giving us a few laughs along the way.

So let’s all rise to the challenge of embracing HCD while we’re apart. Our teams will be more connected and engaged, our technology will be more effective, and our businesses will be healthier in the long-term.

What are some important initiatives you’d like to see HCD applied to? We’d love to know