Wikipedia defines user–centred design (UCD) as “a framework of processes (not restricted to interfaces or technologies) in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of a product, service or process are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process”.
Our client, the mobility charity Motivation, puts UCD at the heart of everything it does.
In fact, when Motivation first set out as two friends from the RCA in 1991 they were at the leading edge of the user-centred design movement. Wheelchair designs they produced were based on the needs of their users and the communities they live in. It’s about more than just the requirements of manufacturing. They thought of their chairs as part of a whole system integrated into someone’s life. The chair, the training on it and maintenance of it all worked together to improve quality of life.
Practice what you preach
But 25 years later they weren’t applying those same user-centred principles to their communications.
This was clear when they asked us to help them generate excitement around an event they were planning, an event that was to celebrate reaching the milestone of their 25th anniversary.
Sure, it was important to them, but what about their other users? Every charity also has an audience of supporters and donators who ‘use’ that charity. Through close collaboration and discussion, it soon became clear that what this audience was more interested in was a turning point that would re-energise them ready for the next 25 years.
It wasn’t enough to just say look at what we have done. It had to shout at all the great work that they must continue to do. To remind their users that this charity can achieve so much.
Make IF happen
We identified a route to help Motivation celebrate the past and very much look forward to the future through the launch of a new Innovation Fund (IF). The creative route we developed opens people’s eyes to what is possible and urges donations to help make ‘IF’ happen through the Innovation Fund. This was articulated through a series of campaign concepts that were showcased at the event and will be used by Motivation as they continue to fundraise in the future.
Finally, we looked to make the anniversary event focus around another set of users, the invitees and attendees. What would they want from an evening? Is it enough in these busy times to ask someone to simply join a celebration? We thought not.
We worked with Motivation to create a menu of content and speakers. ‘Making IF Happen’ would be a celebration of not just their great work over the last 25 years, but of design itself. Held in the prestigious Royal College of Art, the event was hosted and attended by some of the biggest names in the design world.
We organised a panel debate with champions of design such as Lady Helen Hamlyn and Professor Sir Cristopher Frayling, which prompted a great deal of open debate and discussion.
All in all, it was a hugely important evening that entertained, celebrated and also re-energised.
And all because everyone involved put the user at the centre.