Too many man-made things fail to satisfy the real needs of their target user. This workshop was a chance to think deeply about this everyday problem. It was a time to develop the awareness needed to create tools that ordinary people, in all their diversity, can use with ease and will use with pleasure. It was an afternoon of creative exploration in the spirit of “User Centered Design”.
The workshop ran twice. In both sessions the lively participation of the group generated something that is essential for any creative team project: a sense of fun.
The sessions began by critiquing some commonplace objects through the eyes of a User-Centered Designer. Bottles, telephones, watches, containers, medical equipment, even a PRO Questionnaire, printed on paper … all manner of man-made objects were examined.
The workshop groups went on to concentrate their minds on a specific patient population: adolescents. Starting from some basic facts about a number of individual patients, the groups pulled off an impressive feat of literary creation to make facts come alive as credible “personas” with unique feelings, tastes and troubles.
The groups then became the design team of a creative start-up, looking at a brief from a pharmaceuticals company that needed a new type of data-collection device. With its new intimate knowledge of the patient population, and its focus on the facets of User-Centered Design, the workshop groups generated inventive ideas to solve the sponsor company’s problem, weaving stories about how each one would fit into the lives of the adolescent patient personas they had just created.
The output of the sessions was a number of ideas that the group felt had potential to overcome obstacles common to those patients’ personalities, obstacles such as embarrassment, reading difficulties, and having much better things to do than comply with a Study. There can be just a subtle shade of difference between an idea that hits and an idea that misses. The workshop teams made an excellent start to inventing a “hit”, through the act of co-operative creation, grounded in an awareness of what patients are really like.
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