Usability: designing for the future we want

Design your future. It sounds like something right out of a self-help book doesn’t it? It's the theme for this year's World Usability Day.

It’s a bold and hopeful statement that implies we have control over our lives and that between us, we can save the world!

So I suppose the first question that we need to answer is what do we mean by “design for the future you want”.

Making a difference

Design is about change, it can be good or bad. It might work, or it might not. The key thing is that it is intended to make an improvement.

When we design a service, a product, a journey, we are looking to make a situation better, not make it worse. Thus, creating a future state that is a preferred situation to our current one.

As a User Researcher, when we think about design we're thinking about it from the user's point of view: ‘how do they do it now?’, ‘what do they like about how it is at the minute?’, ‘what do they need?’.

Fighting for the user

We believe there is a huge amount of value in speaking to the user directly. If we skip this step and go straight to ‘what do we think the user needs?’ there is a strong possibility that we will design something they don’t want or need.

Without a real understanding of need, there's a large element of luck in us creating a usable service.

No one knows your story or your experience like you do. So why would we expect someone who hasn’t lived it, breathed it, seen it, to know what you need to make it better?

We work directly with users to understand their experiences and journeys, and then use the insight to work with designers and the wider team to improve the current situation. The team might prototype more than one idea in order to find the best, most practical iteration or design.

To do this, we look at usability testing. This means we want to test the prototypes and ideas with real users. People who can give honest feedback about how the new design changes their situation (if at all).

For the future

Without the user, how can we design for the future we want? All we can really do is live with the future someone else designs for us.

If you want to be a part of designing your future, then remember to say yes the next time someone asks you to be a part of user research and share your experiences!

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