Lecture 6: Human Centred Design

This week we heard from Stuart Bailey, a Glasgow School of Art staff with expertise in service design. He introduced the fundamental concepts of service design, identifying the overlaps and differences from pure product design.

There is a lot of overlap – the concept of finding the core problem in any given situation was familiar. Stuart emphasised the importance of a designer’s communication skills, going so far as to say designers don’t need an expert level of knowledge in the relevant area of design; what’s more important is a healthy dose of empathy and strong visualisation skills.

My biggest takeaway from this lecture was learning the value of visualisation. Various forms of graphs and charts, from user journeys to service blueprints, can all help quickly convey an idea to a client or someone in a senior role. This is something that can be directly applied to my product design work. I was surprised to hear Stuart say that photographs work better than cartoon graphics for these maps. It makes sense – a photograph depicts the real setting much more accurately, but I had always associated custom cartoon graphics with higher production value. I guess functionality rules over aesthetics when it comes to user journey maps.

I watched the recommended video ‘The Future of Self-Service Banking’ by IDEO, which is a textbook example of how to apply the service design process to a problem. By studying the user journey of interacting with an ATM machine, they learned that privacy was a major problem, and the numerous slots and buttons were confusing. With these insights, they were able to improve the experience with privacy screens and an intuitive touchscreen interface. I particularly liked the continuity of the cash graphic moving down the screen, then real cash coming out the slot below.

This video was released over a decade ago, and looking back now, it’s funny to see their idea of the future of banking revolve around physical ATM machines. Despite this, the design process itself has not aged and the video is still as effective as ever. Acknowledging that the product is just an intermediary step between human and system allows the designers to focus on what the user really wants to get out of the ATM. Usually I might have thought a flashy cash animation would be unnecessary, but since the cash is what the human wants from the system, it makes sense to build the UI around it.



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