Over the last couple of weeks, the Weekly T4D/Innovation Friday posts have covered some of the ins and outs of scaling innovation, worst practices in ICT4D, and challenges and opportunities of T4D application in programme delivery. Some of the themes that have emerged are the need to think about scale from the beginning, fail fast, and involve the end-user in the design process.
This week we’re going to focus on the why and how to involve the end-user in T4D and Innovation initiatives with a look at the blog post, “Building Human-Centered Design into ICT4D Projects.”
What is human-centered design?
- “A problem-solving process that puts humans at the very center.”
- 3 components: 1) learn from a community/end-user to understand the problem; 2) ideate and prototype rapidly; 3) feedback from real users quickly and frequently.
Why is human-centered design important in the social sector?
- “In international development you have projects being implemented thousands of miles away from where decisions are made. Frequently, there’s no feedback loop so it’s hard to say: Is it working, and are people choosing to use this?”
Why is human-centered design important to the field of ICT4D?
- “In general the development community is very risk averse…One of the benefits of human-centered design is to mitigate risk by testing early and failing fast.”
- “In the context of ICT4D, human-centered design can help with the design of a technology, and the context around it, long before the technology is ready for launch.”
Is failure at certain times not only acceptable but important?
“When you learn from it, failure can be a very positive part of the process. You want to try to get some of the failing out early so that you can learn from it and let it influence the design of a better more successful project.”
In October ESARO facilitated a T4D Capacity Building Workshop, and one of the sessions focused on human centered design. After learning some of the basics, participants discussed how human-centered design can be incorporated into UNICEF T4D programming, two conclusions emerged:
- Human-centered design can be used internally to identify priority areas for T4D application;
- Understanding the process can help manage external vendors such as software developers during the iterative software design process.
For a closer look at the human-centered design session, please see page 12 of the conference report.