DESIGN FOR CREATIVE INNOVATION*

* Design pour une innovation créative

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Continuing education: visualising users and customers first and foremost

Continuing education: visualising users and customers first and foremost

Visualising users and customers first and foremost… possibly another way to innovate in terms of products and services?

Every day there are businesses and various authorities asking L’École de design Nantes Atlantique to help raise the awareness of their employees regarding the place of users when designing products and services. For many of them, design is a creative discipline with specific techniques and methods to go from an idea to its representation. On that basis, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique teaches this content by way of modules or courses founded on a specific design philosophy… namely a user-focused approach.

The aim of a design approach is to satisfy a customer.

The idea is to recognise his/her needs as well as the circumstances of use. This enquiry cannot be merely clinical: it has to take into account the setting, the time period and all factors that will probably greatly affect the way he/she acts. The designer builds scenarios with the user as the main player, so as to assess how appropriate the solutions are. For instance, designing a heating control system could well mean picturing a scenario which one goes through once a year, just as you are off on holidays and when your stress level is such that you no longer know whether the setting is correct or not. Another instance would be the creation of a car rental website, imagining our user busy performing this task on a mobile phone in a noisy, crowded street. Creating a cooking kit means picturing the user finishing a recipe while at the same time addressing a mathematics problem for his/her child or using a hands-free kit to chat with an additional person. Creating a layout for a public place obviously implies thinking about the staff who use the premises, but also considering customer reception and services. Redesigning a place and its layout probably requires the staging of its various services.

So the designers have developed some tools to help businesses imagine those kinds of situations.

Having a user-focused approach means paying attention to a physical person’s ability to complete a task, determining the time available to the customer, picturing the weight of the environment upon the person, the cognitive capacity to understand a message or an instruction, etc. The above considerations make up the core elements in a design approach.
And that is what a designer’s work is all about. Designers are capable of acting out a scene by quickly prototyping the design in order to validate the various assumptions.Then they go on to illustrate a design using a storyboard that explains why the product or service has been designed in that way. Thus designers will innovate through usages, and they will see users as the primary objective in their approach.

L’École de design Nantes Atlantique has consequently developed its continued education offer with the foregoing in mind, so as to help project teams gain a new understanding of innovation.