The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funded (2.3 mil. €) a research project with the goal to develop a user interface prototype that facilitates intuitive interaction–irrespective of the users’ knowledge and capabilities. This prototype consisted of an interface for a heating system with which the user interacted through speech, gestures, virtual keyboard, and visual representations.
As a part of this project, I developed a human-centered design process for designing universal and intuitive interfaces. I validated and, subsequently, conducted the process, leading a team of researchers and designers. Evaluation studies show that the prototypes are superior to established products, and they can be considered universal and intuitive.
Many processes for producing designs are neither precise nor scientifically grounded. This can be a drawback because they depend on the experience of the people involved.
For that reason, I developed a human-centered design process grounded in scientific research, that is, semiotics, embodied cognition, visual perception and research through design.
The process includes all steps of the human-centered design process (ISO 9241-210) as much as comprehensive explanations of methods, procedures, and their outcomes. The result is a validated process that can be performed by other designers, researchers, and businesses for designing universal and intuitive products.
According to Harvard Business School, 95% of new products fail. In recent years, three approaches have been established to remedy the situation.
This first is User Experience (UX), that is, the focus on users and their experience. To do so, UX introduces appropriate methods during user studies, design, and evaluation. The second is agile development, for example Scrum. Agile processes organize the work of product teams, focusing on collaboration, self-organization, flexibility, and small but continuous progress. Third, Lean UX is an approach that strives to bring UX and agile together.
I introduced the three approaches in several settings. Since many teams had no experience with the approaches, I evangelist the mindset and taught the principles, methods, and tools. The teams evaluated these settings as excellent. Not least, I lead the teams in developing successful products.
UX, Scrum, and Lean UX are clearly structured. However, to successfully perform such processes, it is important to internalize the principles and required elements.
To achieve this, I conduct workshops, and I explain in detail methods, like ethnographic studies, design studios, retrospectives, and maintaining the sprint backlogs.
For the mindset, it is important to live the rituals. That is, it is crucial to emphasize continuous learning and creativity over fear of failure and unverified assumptions. This can be achieved for example through collaborative working.
Finally, it is important to define criteria for success (i.e., definition of done, acceptance criteria, KPIs etc.) to enable the teams to strive for clear goals. Bringing these elements together allows teams to develop superior products in fast and frugal ways.
As a manager and lecturer, I worked with many people with various backgrounds. In particular, challenging and also rewarding were situations in which I supported people in mastering tasks and achieving personal and group goals. Over the years, I have accompanied young people, colleagues, and employees in this way. I am grateful for these experiences, and they motivate me.
Transparent communication might be the easiest way to solve problems. Through discussion, we can create empathy, reflect critically, and collaborate. Then, we are able to define goals and even create fine-grained plans, like roadmaps and milestones. Not least, by collaborating, it is my goal to create a positive attitude towards tasks and life in general.