Human-centred design involves placing the human at the centre of all design considerations and decisions. Looking at a smart phone, someone coming from the ‘machine’ perspective might be concerned with the efficiency and effectiveness of file accessibility for a user. But a human-centred design methodology starts from the other end – the person, rather than the machine, and is concerned with experiential qualities – how the interaction between phone and user feels.
This sort of design approach begins with observing and consulting customers in the environment you may want to improve. In the case of Encircle, these are the customers moving through the transport network. This happens before anything is built or developed. Then based on these observations an idea or prototype may be developed in a tentative form, which is then brought back to the customer for further feedback and iteration. In that way you achieve something that is not too prescriptive, and is certain to be supporting customers because it has come from them. It could be that the static timetable can be too basic and there are digital information technologies that allow us to come up with solutions that provide more accurate information, improving the perceived reliability of transport.
Our project partners are a great resource because they’re already posing many of the questions to customers we’re interested in – we can draw on some of their material and identify issues. For example, we know from existing customer surveys that bus customers prioritise timeliness and information services. A solution to improve customer satisfaction in regards to timeliness of services could be to provide better information or delivering the information in a different way. It could be that the static timetable can be too basic and there are digital information technologies that allow us to come up with solutions that provide more accurate information, improving the perceived reliability of transport.
So where is the process in our research project at now? So far we have conducted interviews with stakeholders from our partner organisations, where we collected information about the domain. It is also possible to do expert interviews with people who have a strong knowledge about the domain in question. In the last few weeks we’ve been analysing the collected data and have worked (with the partners) on identifying the project focus that we’re going to work on in the next months. Once we’ve narrowed the domain, we can go and talk to more end users, start to build prototypes first in the lab and then test them out in the field, and that way iterate and refine ideas.