Designing Digital Services by Putting People First

Louisa Heinrich of Fjord outlines how to create real solutions for customers rooted in the problems people are actually facing.

Lousia Heinrich, Fjord

Product problems often spring from silos – different parts of the business not talking to one another and producing products in isolation. The counter to that is spreading thinking across the organisation – how can all the silos can support the product as it evolves?

Citibank are a client. They wanted to make things more human. And when they did the research they found that banks weren’t giving people what they needed, They were giving them lots of numbers, but they weren’t helping them make good decisions.

So, they too an iPad app and used it to teach people how to make better financial plans. The app allows you to define a peer group, and see how people spend their money through aggregated data. It’s financial literacy for the masses – they can make instant comparisons against how others spend money.

They also allowed importing of information from other financial services they are using, allowing them to get a complete picture of their finances. People respond well to it – and it seems obvious to them.

So, Citibank are in the process of re-engineering their back end to allow data visualisations of everything. They featured the app in ad campaigns, rating have shot up and they’ve got great press.

Key learnings: 

  1. Great design is no use if it doesn’t make it to market
  2. Getting it to market means engaging with the whole business
  3. We need to help clients think differently
  4. Where people are concerned, why is more important that what (when it becomes to behaviour)
  5. When you put people first, really great things can happen for business

Other lessons:

  • Sometimes just watching people struggling with problems is the best to learn what they need
  • Showing people designs isn’t always the best way – they might no realise straight away that it’s something they need
  • Agencies are moving away from fixed frameworks for doing work, to customising them to the specific requirements of the project.
  • Ethnography in the field is a key part of the way they work.
  • You can always produce something by the deadline – but you need to negotiate a combination of deliverable and date to make sure you get a satisfactory result.