Home Manchester ‘Customer first’ design will help businesses succeed

‘Customer first’ design will help businesses succeed

Designing products and services so they are easy to use and perform impressively grows in importance as digital technology reaches into every aspect of our lives – creating a huge opportunity area for innovators and market disrupters based in Greater Manchester.

That’s the message of a new campaign, The Future of Human Experiences and Human-Centred Design (HCD), which is set to give small and medium sized businesses in the region the chance to work alongside large corporates and leading academics on how HCD can maximise the chances of success when bringing anything new to market.

The Future of Human Experiences and Human-Centred Design, is part of Innovate Manchester, an ambitious and participatory programme created by MIDAS and GC Business Growth Hub, and produced by FutureEverything.

The programme recognises the enormous impact of design in countless everyday objects and tasks. This includes improving the functionality of all forms of technology and engineering, and making sure activities as simple as walking around a supermarket or accessing government services – such as applying for a driving licence online – are not made harder by design. The project also explores how large organisations can adapt their processes and practices and potentially innovate by employing HCD.

The speakers include Alex Nelson, Head of Design, BBC R&D Future Experiences. Alex has brought human-centred innovation processes to the BBC and is also linked to the SOLID project launched by Professor Tim Berners Lees, inventor of the World Wide Web, which aims to radically change the way Web applications handle data.

He is joined by Dr Caroline Jay, Head of Research in the School of Engineering and the Digital Futures Human-Centred Design Lead at the University of Manchester. Caroline is qualified as both a Psychologist and Computer Scientist and undertakes research crossing these domains. The event will also hear from Vimla Appadoo, the Co-Founder and Chief Culture Officer of Honey Badger, which has provided tech design consultancy for the NHS, BUPA and Unilever amongst others. Phillipa Nazari, Assistant Director Information Governance and Data Protection Officer at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, completes the panel. Phillipa is the Strategic Leader in Information Governance supporting Public Service Reform and Devolution of Greater Manchester.

Tim Newns, chief executive of MIDAS, said: “Our programme is about inspiring collaborations that will bring forward radical new ideas and make the most of the rich diversity of design and digital expertise we have in Greater Manchester. We want to help companies with the HCD challenge and make sure that design is not just driven by technologists, but the experience of the people actually using the product or service. We all operate in an era where expectations have grown, with customers more ready than ever to proclaim #FAIL if something disappoints. Equally, there’s great excitement around the pace of change and how HCD will see things we take for granted change. In entertainment, for instance, the future may be about television programmes being much more interactive and personalised, having elements of gaming. All ideas that may require rethinking service design and delivery.”

Richard Jeffery, Director of Business Growth at the Growth Company said: “Greater Manchester SMEs can make a valuable contribution to problem solving and evolving Human-Centred Design solutions. In many cases, the chances of projects succeeding are greatly enhanced by the close involvement of the customer. HCD processes are powerful and this approach has become a discipline in itself. HCD is not a fad, it’s the future, and I’d urge any forward-thinking SME in Greater Manchester to attend this illuminating event.”

The Future of Human Experiences and Human-Centred Design webinar takes place on Tuesday 23rd February – 9:30-11:00am. It will be followed an invite-only virtual Innovation Lab in the week commencing 29th March. Exact dates to be confirmed.

The Innovate Manchester programme is part of the Build Back Better campaign to help the city region recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic. Innovate Manchester and other GC Business Growth Hub projects are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GC Business Growth Hub project designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. The Hub is also supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester local authorities.