Back Human Centred Design post COVID
Overnight, the world as we know it changed. Schools are closed, curfews are imposed, retailers are relying on online orders and most companies let their employees work from home. At Autsera, we were able to adjust our work practices successfully in a matter of days, but we were faced by the bigger challenges of engaging our stakeholders, testing our demo products and conducting further research remotely.
Since we started Autsera in 2019, human centred design has been at the heart of what we do. Up until February 2020, we had managed to conduct insightful face to face interviews and test our prototype product in schools. The plan was to continue our user research and testing while developing our first version of the product. We had scheduled our soft launch in April 2020 with the alpha testing taking place in March / April and the beta testing in April / May. But given the changes in circumstances, we had to come up with an alternative plan immediately.
Originally, our process involved contacting primary schools and planning visits to them. We would then ask pupils to test our prototype product under the supervision of their teachers. Since we could not do that any longer, we brainstormed a variety of user research and testing methods that could work remotely and tested them on a small circle of our supporters. Our users were no longer at schools. They were at home supervised by their busy parents who may also be working from home. We redefined the personas of our testers and their carers, and identified new channels to reach them directly and build awareness and interest.
Rather than meeting teachers at schools, we invited interested parents to an online introductory webinar. We explained the prototype game, and divided the testing process into stages. We followed up by online surveys about their experiences and their children’s experience. We asked them to kindly share short video clips of their children playing the game.
This combination of surveys and video clips told us a lot about our users and our customers. Although we could not see the full picture we get face-to-face, there is a silver lining. With the new online approach, we were able to achieve a wider geographic coverage, and design a more structured user research and testing process, and develop a direct relationship with our customers.