IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 50

Pay Attention
To Users
Lauren Adams

In their recent New York Times Op-Ed, Steven
Bingler and Martin Pedersen argued that for design
to truly be able to improve human life, designers
needed to regain the ability to connect with actual
humans. What most of today's design is missing,
they argued, is the "human" quality, the element
that ties design to our own DNA.
To achieve those human connections, designers
need to think beyond how a place looks, and
consider how a place feels. One of the best ways
to do that is to start every project by understanding
its context-something that's especially crucial
for interior design.
Interior space is an inherently social space,
intended for a specific use and a specific group
of people, and it has an inherently high degree of
up-close interactivity. The best designers know
that choreographing the experience is as much
a part of the process as creating a volume or
choosing a finish palette. The more they know
about context, the better their choreography
becomes, and the better the design. Who are the
users and what can we learn about their lives?
What is the purpose of this place? How can we use
design to create a social experience? How should
the experience change and evolve over time?
Beyond the "shoulds," connecting with actual
humans is fun. User research- whether a full
in-field ethnography or just a trip to the city
archives-can be a catalyst for intellectual
curiosity. Hearing the voices and stories of your
users makes you smarter and more empathetic.
Getting inside their heads gets your neurons
vibrating with creative possibilities. Isn't this
why we became designers in the first place?

The best designers know that choreographing
the experience is as much a part of the process
as creating a volume or choosing a finish
palette. The more they know about context,
the better their choreography becomes, and
the better the design.

50

Not to mention, clients love data. With the classic
conflicting desires to innovate while simultaneously avoiding risk, a well-researched experience
strategy can provide the level of comfort clients
need to open their minds to new thinking. And,
it's much easier for them to sell an original idea
up the chain when it's wrapped in a protective layer
of user insights. Well-placed anecdotes from real
people engage clients emotionally, and help steer
the design conversation toward a holistic point
of view.
Many designers, once they've been creatively
inspired by user research, find it becomes an
essential tool. Others chafe at the suggestion,
arguing that a focus on human factors ties their
hands creatively, dilutes their big idea, or weakens
the aesthetic rigor of their work. A few even cling
to a bizarre notion that being inspired by users
somehow tarnishes the idea of "pure" creativity-
which, in reality, is actually missing the whole
point. At its heart, design is about solving problems.
Design can only elevate itself to the level of art if it
has first solved the problem it's meant to address.
"Listening to users" doesn't mean asking them
what they want and then giving them what they
ask for. On the contrary: that's bad research and
lazy design. Good research is learning about how
people live, putting yourself in their shoes,
observing as they interact with a space or product
and understanding what drives their desires and
decisions. With this foundation, you can use your
creativity, intuition, experience, and intellect to
design something they never knew they wanted.
The process is longer, it's more challenging and
it often adds more fee, but it's worth it.
When you start with context, you create the
chance to innovate. When a person has a wonderful
experience in a place, you open the door to greater
appreciation of design. When a place feels good,
you can challenge, even broaden, their
understanding of beauty. When a place feels
right, it transcends taste.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015

IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 201
Contents
From IIDA
Behind the Issue
Contributors
IIDA Roundtable
Designer Dialogue
Design Decoded
For Love of The Game
Designers Off Duty
Point / Counterpoint
Inspiration
Colophon
Design Buzz
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 201
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Cover2
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 1
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Contents
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 3
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 4
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - From IIDA
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Behind the Issue
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 7
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Contributors
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 9
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - IIDA Roundtable
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 11
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 12
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 13
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 14
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 15
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Designer Dialogue
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 17
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 18
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 19
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 20
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 21
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Design Decoded
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 23
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 24
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 25
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 26
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 27
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 28
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 29
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - For Love of The Game
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 31
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 32
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 33
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 34
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 35
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 36
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 37
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 38
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 39
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Designers Off Duty
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 41
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 42
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 43
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 44
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 45
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 46
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 47
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Point / Counterpoint
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 49
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 50
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 51
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Inspiration
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 53
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 54
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Colophon
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Design Buzz
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Cover3
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Cover4
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