We talk about empathy all the time at Made by Many in terms of design research and making things. But the design-technology-business sphere we operate in has regurgitated this word so many times to the point of rendering it utterly meaningless. Is the way we talk about empathy in society, but also in design research broken? And could ‘designing with empathy’ perhaps lead to misguided design decisions?
I'm not only pointing fingers at you, I’m guilty of this too. I walk into my local organic café to buy a lunch of tofu, kale and chia seeds in a biodegradable box for a bazillion £££s and then pretend to ignore the Big Issue man outside who knows exactly what I just did. Call it lack of empathy, call it #middleclassguilt, either way something is wrong here.
Despite its Ancient Greek linguistic roots, the concept of empathy saw its first surge in the 19th and 20th centuries, after which behavioural psychologists and neuroscientists have added even more nuance to its definition today. To most of us though, it's about being able to put ourselves in each other's shoes. I can still hear my mother on the crackling phone line telling me that I don't have enough of it. Neither of us do, I concluded.
Role: Senior Business Strategist
Location: London, UK
At Made by Many, we work at the intersection of business strategy, product design and software development. Strategists, like everyone else here, play an important role in all three of these disciplines.
We’re looking for a senior business strategist to work with designers and technologists in a creative environment to develop new product ideas and bring them to market.
Last year we worked with Contagious Communications to re-imagine and re-design their online business – a project that culminated in the launch of their collaborative research platform I/O. Last week, Contagious told us that YOY sales are up 82 per cent following the launch, so we thought now was a good time to share some details of our work.
With the start of the coming school year kids in the UK from age 5 and up will have coding as a standard part of the curriculum. For the tech industry this is an exciting development promising a continued influx of young people into tech related courses in higher education and the job market. I have a more personal reason why coding in the curriculum is massively exciting to me. I believe that by opening up coding to everyone it creates the potential for a future where female programmers like myself are common instead of rare anomalies.
In-depth interviews are one of many qualitative tools we use to gain insight into a problem or opportunity, through understanding people's behaviours, experiences and needs.
My favorite part about conducting user research at Made by Many is meeting a wide variety of people from different fields of work. Discussing people's habits, needs and personal experiences is both a privilege and a humbling encounter. The challenge however, is extracting the maximum valuable (and honest) information about the problem you’re trying to solve, in a usually short space of time.
Here are 5 things I find useful for planning and running interviews.