A microcosm of the Kenyan design process

By Mark Kamau
  Published 17 Sep 2013
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A microcosm of the Kenyan design process
Yesterday something interesting became apparent. In the user experience class last week, the participants were given a task to go and do some research into a design challenge. The 2 design challenges were:-  
  • Design a solution for transport professionals to improve their use or behavior on roads
  • Design a solution that can help the Kenyan working class keep time
  • Design a solution that will engage Kenyan youth on taboo issues of love and relationships
Today they were meant to present their projects. Each of the teams presented quite some impressive solution ideas that they proposed. The trouble is, none of them presented the personas of their users to s meaningful depth. Shikoh Gitau took this as an excellent learning opportunity for the teams and asked some critical questions about their users that they had not thought about and the importance of first focusing on understanding our users to a decent depth before we propose solutions. Shikoh_Gitau1 In many ways, today's experience is indicative of the Kenyan techies. This is you and me, We have been in the industry for a while and instead of this serving us, it has become our very Achilles heel. We know about technology and naturally, we have 10 solutions for each word a client utters. We need to learn the humility and patience to truly listen to our users. Not with tech solutions running in our heads as they speak, but truly listen without a tech perspective. It is hard, but it is what we need to do to understand our user. Tech after all, is about human interaction. The next time you receive a new project, take time to make your user the centre. Develop solid personas on which you will anchor your solutions. Just a thought...
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