What's behind the polished design result

About the design process

- The truth is, that the design process is fuzzy, includes a lot of confusing information which requires a lot of work to organize. 

Designing value for people
Designing value for people, means you need to understand them. You need to meet them in person. That is one of the most important parts of a designers work. A great designer doesn't spend all the time behind the desktop. A great designer is out in the field where the new solution is going to live and be used.

The challenge is to understand the users/customers behavior, surroundings, needs, what makes them proud when they feel pain and a lot more. You also need to understand the business providing the service/product, but by focusing on the user, the financial success will follow. There are so many examples of that.

The picture below is from the middle of my master thesis design process. My partner, Janne Thomsen, and I created a wearable lifeline for victims of stalking (INVISA). The photo shows some of the information we found during the design process.

All the information were organized and gutted down to the most important information. We did it by using these strong words explaining the experience we wanted to create for the victim.

Powerful: We needed the victims to feel powerful - like they got the control of their life back. 
A lifeline: We would do it by providing a lifeline which always is by their side when they need it (physical and mentally). 
Undercover: They shouldn't be pointed out as a victim.  

It was a long journey of specifying the criteria for the solution, developing ideas, and presenting them to the users. Lastly testing the principles we came up with, and do it all over again. There is a reason why I don't show you the whole process. It will be too messy and confusing for you to get the overview of. It is my job as a designer to present it clear and simple for you. 

Therefore I now present you for the final solution, and what value it creates for the user.
When we met with the victims of stalking and experts in the field, they said: "We need an alarm which can't be activated by accident". We could have given them what they wanted. But we wanted to find out what they didn't know they needed. Therefore we asked the following questions:

What is the pain in your everyday life?
How do you feel in your everyday life?
When are you proud of yourself?
How was your life before?
What are you afraid of?
What is your stalker doing to you?

Without these questions it wouldn't have been possible to find the solution which adds more value then they could imagine. The look on their faces when we presented the solution to them told us everything. We had found the solution which could create more value in their everyday life then they could imagine. 

Do you meet your customers and their surroundings? Do you try to put your self in their situation? If not, it is never too late. You will be surprised about how much useful information it will give you and how much value you can provide. Design isn't about asking what your customers need, but to understand how they feel, act and what they experience in their everyday life. 


1. Listen to the people who are gonna use the final solution
2. Observe their behavior in their everyday life 
3. Observe the surroundings the solution are going to work in
4. Understand people who are gonna make the solution a reality (manufactures, employees, installers...)
5. Listen to the people who will sell the solution, watch their workflow and behavior

Thanks for reading this. I hope you find it useful. Let me know if you need me to help understand your users/customers, and create long-lasting relationships with them. I encourage you to bring value into the lives of your users and customers.


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