Empathetic Designers…

I came across this illustrative short animated by Katy Davis (AKA Gobblynne), from Dr Brené Brown’s talk, ‘The Power of Vulnerability’.

The message of empathy is something that resounds not just in a personal scenario but also in a professional environment. As designers, in order to satisfy the end user, we need to understand them. This spans through many aspects of design, from animation, to product to interaction. At a recent talk at the Ulster Festival of Art and Design by Brain McMahon from Segment international, he highlighted the importance of design research from the seed stage of an idea. He said,

“Not so long ago, consumers had access to only a few sources of information, and marketers controlled most of them. Segmentation analysis, with its focus on cultural differences and targeted information, flourished.

Today, consumers have immediate access to everything, everyone, everywhere.  This seamless exchange of information has lessened the effectiveness of relying on market differences.  Segmented messages just don’t work as well in today’s highly networked world.”

It is important to use research to inform the design not test it when it’s too late. This could involve going and interviewing users, observing behaviours on and off guard; interacting with a user, getting to their level to understand the real problems. Brian commented,

“Segmentation helps us understand customer differences. This was good before Internet because of the control of branding-what they said in ads was true. No question. Now the customer narrative has changed. The Internet has distributed the narrative. “

Similarly, with clients, we need to get to the heart of their story or brand to be able to produce and most suitable and most effective product. Sometimes this could mean redefining the issue. Design thinking has a strong part to play with this in our course, encouraging ambiguity and looking at ideas from a multitude of perspectives. As Brian said,

“Go outside the brief. The solution often comes from a tangent. Go wider.”


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