FWD Recap: Human-Centered Design

Paul Heckel


rwd_blog5_hcdGetting together a product designer, a CIO, and a Director of User Experience to talk about design doesn’t happen often. That's why we were thrilled when they all signed on to talk during the Human-Centered Design segment of our agenda at FWD. Despite their differences in backgrounds and roles, across the board they all agreed - getting the user involved with every decision (whether it’s from watching them or asking them) is key to success. Here’s a look at some of the key points that stood out to us. 

Scott Wilson, Founder & CEO of MINIMAL, kicked off the Human Centered Design (HCD) theme and wowed the audience with a “take my money” video showcasing a visually stunning array of physical products including the ZONE Mouthguard, LUNATIK Epik Apple Watch Case, and Üllo: The Wine Purifier. Most inspiring, perhaps, was the story he shared about CADence, the non-invasive obstructive coronary artery disease test by AUM Cardiovascular. A young Stanford engineer, tragically widowed, developed an algorithm for identifying turbulence in human arteries in a non-invasive manner. Scott and the MINIMAL team helped develop the product and are working on geting it to market, anticipating to save many human lives in the future.

Brian Hunt, Senior Director, User Experience at Orbitz Worldwide, took the stage next and conveyed his perspective on HCD, how the Orbitz UX team uses it, and the value it provides. “HCD keeps us honest,” he said.

Specifically, he elaborated on how Orbitz blends the use of experimentation (and analytics) to drive and capture data along with HCD techniques to answer the “why” behind the diagnostics. If the result of a test is inconclusive, he said, his team uses HCD to make better decisions.Brian’s final advice to the audience was simple and straightforward…go out and observe your users in the field.

Finally Scott Cousins, CIO of KeHe Distributors, using a series of entertainingly poignant Star Wars analogies, characterized HCD as filling a gap between success & failure. As a major distributor of organic and specialty foods, KeHE generates a sizable volume of annual revenue during a large trade show that occurs twice annually.

He shared a compelling story about replacing a clunky hardware solution (the Intermac CN3) with a more elegant experience on the iPad platform and using HCD techniques directly on the trade show floor to gather feedback and iterate on initial designs. "In one show we went from a technology laggard to a technology leader in the eyes of our vendors, retailers and employees,” Cousins said. And from the financial perspective, the ROI wasn’t too shabby either. 


Read more recaps from Solstice FWD by visiting our RWD page.