Secrets to human-centered design

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Key takeaways from a session at NTEN’s NTC focused on IDEO’s Field Guide to Human-Centered Design.

After three very helpful, informative, conceptual and practical days of sessions at Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, my final day was more refreshing and clarifying than I had expected. I chose well, in attending these two sessions.

An exploration of human-centered design

The first, My Dad and Other Real People Designed Our Online Strategy was led by Trista Kendall of the newly rebranded and Danielle Siembieda of Leonardo/ISAST

The session was an exercise in questions, essentially. We talked about who to ask questions of, what questions to ask, and how to make sure you’re asking the right questions. This was all based on their experience leveraging IDEO’s Field Guide to Human-Centered Design to help with their redesign.

My key takeaways are listed below:

  • When taking the human-centered design approach, don’t skip to solutions. Just get a good question established.
  • When seeking user feedback: You can talk to people you know. You’d be surprised at how little your friends and family take in what you do.
  • When talking to major donors, use the term “advice visit”
  • Think in terms of Facebook ad criteria when figuring out types of people to talk to.

Some great questions to ask when seeking user feedback:

  • What conversations happen between you and your friends in real life vs social media?
  • What would you expect to find when you go to our site?
  • How would you expect to hear about our organization’s failures?
  • What is something you were looking to do on the site that you were not able to do?
  • When you focus on just one group’s needs you still help others with the outcome. Ask yourself: Who has more needs that are harder to meet?

Your digital program affects people you’re never going to hear from, and will never know they’re there.

Life Beyond the Infographic

Later in the day, I was among the first to arrive for the Life Beyond the Infographic session, which I was so happy existed, I thanked the panel even before it started.

The panel of Marianna Sachse and Shannon Ryan from Burness and their client, Robyn Carliss of Sustainable Conservation discussed their experiences working on an overhauled messaging approach that involved a strategy of creating visuals that get people’s attention, even when they’re on a mobile device.

My biggest take-aways are below:

  • 55 percent of users on a page are only there for 15 seconds
  • Curate info for a-ha moments … Don’t say everything at once
  • People respect and appreciate when you respect and appreciate their time
  • Keep minutiae grounded with visuals and anecdotes
  • Focus on the human angle to make change possible
  • People like to see things in progress. It makes them feel invested. It doesn’t have to be super polished when it comes to photography.

What the panelists found helpful:

  • Open the conversation (instead of trying to say everything at once)
  • Bold photography and great smart typefaces go a long way
  • Simple images and anecdotes from the field help connect supporters
  • Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose – memory isn’t as great as you think – so repetition is helpful
  • Use stats wherever you can … but maybe just one at a time
  • There is a difference between accuracy vs. precision
  • Scientists want it precise. We want it accurate.
  • Scientists want a  bullseye. We want it to be on the target.
  • Ultimately when deciding which way to go, you need the more compelling way to communicate to a broader audience.

Key questions when putting planning and designing an infographic:

  • What is the story?
  • What will resonate?
  • What can I demonstrate?
  • Should I give the story a human face?
  • Do I have compelling data?

If you have a long story, do it in parts. … Give people digestable information.

Overlays: If you start using text overlays, you start seeming more like a company and less like a person.

Make sure the graphic and visual is really telling your story, and ensure that there aren’t multiple interpretations of a graphic. Are 1 in 10 sick, or are 9 in 10 not sick and is there is there a difference that could undermine it.

DIY tools – a simple-to-use DIY graphic design tool for simple, compelling infographics.
Infogram for charts
Over – social media graphics done by your phones … Size for social media sizes