Throughout the year, we keep running into one repeated realization:
We are four bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 20-somethings designing for a chapter of life we have yet to live through.
As spring turned to summer, the Fellows headed to Palo Alto for a workshop with IDEO, renowned innovation and design firm. We shared our year's story, beginning with the daunting task of creating a commercially viable solution for congestive heart failure. We shared our mishaps, experiments, confusion, excitements, and the major themes we gathered from months of observation, shadowing, interviews, and simulation. We also shared this struggle to design for a people living with a disease most prevalent in ages 55+.
Throughout the day, IDEO team members cycled in and out of the room, took a glance at where we were in our conversation, and easily proposed fresh takes on our design challenge. One of the strongest recommendations came from Design Lead Dan Soltzberg, who recommended that we seek analogous examples of human behavior. Analogies were my least-dreaded part of the SAT; this was an easy sell.
Analogies: what similar activities and tasks in our daily lives can we turn to for insights into human behavioral tendencies and preferences? Where are there parallels? In Meerkat's case, where are there numbers that we should supposedly handle each day, and do or don't act upon? We returned to the east coast ready to design a series of experiments to challenge and test all the large and small assumptions that our product design was based on.
For us, a ready analogy is money matters. As a first test, we designed an experiment to test how useful consumers found various SMS notifications about the financial or security status of their bank account, and how quickly they would take a prescribed action, if at all. From our 72 participants, we learned that those years 55+ tended to place higher urgency upon notifications of all urgency levels and were more likely to respond immediately. However, while we found that those 55+ were more likely to demonstrate greater initiative in responding to these alerts, average time of response was relatively similar across age groups. We'll be designing further experiments to gain further insights into what appears to be a more universal behavior than we anticipated. Studying analogies enable us to see into behavioral tendencies - even for parts of life we have yet to experience or cannot currently relate to.
I love the idea of conducting experiments, as it implies no risk of failure - we prove or disprove a hypothesis, and, no matter the result, that insight betters our ability to design for our user. The earlier we undermine an assumption that changes our entire concept, the stronger our design. At this point, we've conducted two rounds of experiments - eight experiments in total, each lasting seven days, with a total of 328 participants. In the next few posts, I'll share more of our attempts to identify and test analogies in human behavior.