User Centred Design is a framework that drives designers to create great products for their end users. Following it allows us to discover great solutions for our users, but to discover more holistic and considered solutions we must cater for more than the users desires.
As designers, we understand the importance of User Centred Design. It requires observing, listening and understanding our intended audiences needs and habits. Then we place these needs with high priority in design development decisions.
Relentlessly satisfying user desires like usability, convenience and price maintains competition in the market, after all, users are the ones buying the product. But solely catering for these needs often moves factors like ethics and sustainability to the back seat.
Avoiding these indirect user problems has birthed a larger set of twisted issues like fast fashion, single use plastics and unethical working conditions. Our new born problems extend outside interactions between user and product and take form on a macro scale, requiring global changes in strategy and thinking.
The beast of consumerism will continue to be fed so creating change whilst staying competitive means finding new processes and methods of problem solving. To solve our user and planet problems we need to let go of our existing understanding and build new pathways to source, make and distribute products and services.
The good news is our advancements in technology and communication are presenting new possibilities. We may have new problems to solve but just like Bond has Q, we’ve got fancy new gear to solve them with.
Many companies are putting this to use like Allbirds who sell direct to consumers and produce shoes with ethically sourced and recycled materials. Another is Warby Parker who radically transformed how we buy quality glasses and for every pair sold they provide one to someone in need (currently 500,000 pairs).
These companies take advantage of new communication and technology and arrive at solutions that satisfy the user and the planet’s needs. The more accepted and outdated methods of sourcing, manufacturing and distributing we can discard, the more room we have to build new methods that utilise modern communication and technology.
When executed well we can continue bringing value to users through systems that align with our planet’s needs.