Successful and strong human-centered designers know how to develop and have empathy for their users. But too often sympathy is confused with empathy. Why is it critical to know the difference? And how can you build your empathy skills?
Here at MAYA, we practice design both as problem solving and opportunity mapping. For example, consider “Design for Chronic Illness” and “Food Oasis,” the two case studies I presented at the 8th International Conference on Design & Emotion. These case studies illustrate how human-centered design creates a framework for empathetic problem solving.
A friend of mine seems to be obsessed with using the game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to settle just about any dispute that arises in our team meetings. Most people think “Rock, Paper, Scissors” is a simple game of chance. Everyone knows the rules; rock breaks scissors, paper covers rock, scissors cut paper. Since it seems random, most of us just decide to play a favorite; I usually play rock, as an opening gambit. Sure enough every once in a while I get lucky. I’ve noticed that most of the time though, my friend wins. I decided I wanted to find out why…
Over the last several years, I’ve developed the mantra, “Just prototype it.” The experience of having to think through how things are built makes you ask all sorts of questions you never get around to in a design/brainstorming meeting. There are a few things to keep in mind before you begin though.
The push for Electronic Medical Records is all over the news, and has even been signed into policy by President Obama. But not everyone thinks they’re everything they could and should be. Dr. David Eibling and Dr. Augie Turano from the Pittsburgh VA hospital came to MAYA to talk about some of the shortcomings of the current systems, and the vast potential of future ones.
Practicing the principle of involving users in the design of a product is not that easy. There are pitfalls, roadblocks, political difficulties, and motivation issues. This rant is to convince you that the thousands of excuses I’ve heard for not including users in the design process are all bunk.
I wish I lived in a world where designers were forced to remove two features from a product for every one that’s added in. It’s so easy to campaign for the addition of a feature, but try suggesting removal some time and you’ll be beat down with a bazillion cries of “somebody might need that,” “but our competition has that,” and “that’s moving backwards.” Well, that’s hooey. Half the stuff I own would be easier to use if it wasn’t so, I dunno, b>laden with extraneous junk.