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What does user-centric design mean?

Modern Times is an essential movie for those who work in innovation sectors or in human resources. In the movie, Charlie Chaplin plays a metallurgical worker during the Great Depression. The film serves as a critique of the working conditions of chain production of the time. But, it also displays an example of the large number of errors in the management of innovation that were common in the early twentieth century, and that unfortunately remain a hundred years later.

One of the film?s most famous scenes is that of the eating machine. The plant?s innovation team takes advantage of their lunch break to test out a new system designed to feed an employee as he continues to work. The main character is obliged to lend himself as the invention?s guinea pig and, as one would expect, the experiment ends in disaster. The management team therefore disapproves of the invention, and the Director of Innovation is left scratching his chin. What could?ve been done differently?

Putting the social critique aside, the most serious error of the innovation manager in this scene was to design and implement a complete product without having involved the user from the start. User-centric design is a discipline that provides us with tools to design products and services that users adore – all while shortening the time to market. Detecting the need, going through the prototype, building a proof of concept and a minimum viable product, the customer is at the center of all decisions.

Among the tools that exist to collect user feedback are surveys, structured interviews, and empathy maps. It?s not just about asking the customer what he wants – because sometimes not even the customer himself knows – but rather understanding the customer?s problems in detail and finding out what motivates them to act in a certain way in these situations.

Once you know your user well enough, you can build a kind of psychological profile of the client called a Persona. You will have to build a Persona for each customer segment, and for each Persona you will have to generate a user journey. Starting the design of products and services with a user journeys is a highly recommended practice, as it helps us to awaken our creativity without completely taking our feet off the ground.

Finally, you will have to test the solution that results from the user journey with a real client. But if you wait until you have a finished product to test these results, it will be too expensive and too risky. Rather than waiting, you can test a prototype, a simulation, or even use a simple questionnaire. Tools like Kuorum help large corporations receive feedback from potential customers while rewarding them for their loyalty, thus offering you the pure style of ProductHunt, but with your own brand?s look and feel.

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