Welcome to the first part of our discovery series 1,2,3. In our 1st part Rose uses a real-life case study of her current role to highlight the power of discovery.
Discovery is typically seen as the starting ‘phase’ in a project lifecycle and is the time to understand your users and see whether they actually need the service you’re developing. It’s a term used in every design project since GDS first arrived on the scene in 2011. It can be argued as the most important phase in any project, as the scope of project is defined through discovery.
The Power of Discovery
Rose is a User Researcher at Hippo Digital. This is her story about why discovery is such an essential part of building the right service based on her experiences within NHS Digital.
As a User Researcher, I’m passionate about delivering services that can change people’s lives for the better. The only way for me to do this is to be the voice of the user, by observing and speaking to people to find out what they need for this to happen.
My current project at NHS Digital is looking at the integration of health and social care and understanding the value of a particular service with end users. The project was driven by the assumption that the service we’re developing may reduce the pressure on other health care professionals, such as GPs.
To validate the assumptions around whether this service would be beneficial to the users, it was my job to speak to the people who would be actually pressing the buttons.
After all, discovery is about making sure we are building the right thing for our end users.
The right research
Over the past two months I have been immersing myself in the users’ context by visiting social care providers up and down the country, to understand how carers currently work and whether the integration of our service would improve the care they give.
To conduct the research, I’ve used a range of methods: observations and shadowing, interviewing, and user journey and persona workshops. I feel that these methods have very much helped me get a detailed view of their daily roles, the struggles they face and what we can do to make their lives easier.
The main thing that is coming out of this research in discovery is the fact that we are realising the scope of the project has to change. The assumptions we originally started off with have not stood up to scrutiny and in order to build the right thing, we must evolve the scope of the project to meet the real user needs.
In my eyes, that’s the power of discovery, through evidence to change the direction of a project, to get it onto the right track.
Without going out and speaking to the users, we would be building something that would not fit into their environment and would cause complications down the line. As long as we are putting the user at the heart of our development, we are realising the need to adapt the thing we are building (if anything) to fulfil their needs.
I believe this and only this makes a project user centred.