Why a people-first design approach wins, every time

Richard Watson

By Richard Watson

As designers, our primary responsibility is to understand the holistic goals of our clients and the specific objectives of the project brief, which outlines the key features and functions of the product or service we’ll be designing. But what sets winning designs apart from those that just check the boxes of utility? We believe it starts with putting people first.

When you prioritise the user in all stages of design, alongside the core business and technological requirements you can develop truly ingenious solutions.

That winning approach has seen two of the products we designed named winners in the iF DESIGN AWARDS: TeakOrigin’s fresh produce quality app, and Guide Beauty’s makeup applicator collection. The awards recognise innovation in user experience and product design, respectively. More on them in a moment.

Starting with purpose

Our guiding purpose is bringing ingenuity to life to build a positive human future and we strive to align that purpose within all our client engagements so that we can provide lasting, meaningful impact.

From a leadership level, you need to think about the impact you want your organisation to have on the world and its people. What challenges do you aim to solve? Answering this question will help define your organisation’s purpose.

For us, building a positive human future includes improving health, wellness and access to supportive resources for all people.

Understanding and addressing key challenges and motivations

Of course, the client brief should provide a basic background of what a design needs to achieve. Beyond that, think about the actual client. You’re working with a person or team of people; work to understand their own motivations and goals. What will it take for them to see a project as successful?

Above all, think about the client’s customers – the end-users. Who is the target demographic for this product or service? What challenges do they face, and how will this design solve them? Ultimately, how will your design make their lives better?

Guide Beauty’s founder, Terri Bryant, was a professional makeup artist herself until early onset Parkinson’s Disease made it difficult for her to hold the tools to apply makeup. This challenge spurred her to contact our team to create  new range of products that were easy to hold and added stability for flawless execution.

Together, we reimagined what makeup applicators could look like and how they’d function. Using universal design principles, the resulting line of tools is sleek, refined and built to provide greater control and stability for those who need it. The innovative designs have earned Guide Beauty numerous accolades, including the title of “Breakthrough” product in Allure Magazine‘s 2020 Best of Beauty Awards; “Best Eyeliner” in The Oprah Magazine‘s Best Beauty Products of 2020; and recognition as one of the best beauty product launches of 2020 by Us Magazine.

Creating new industry best practices centered on user experience

Winning designs do more than build on what’s already available, they reshape entire industries around what’s possible.

TeakOrigin saw a gap in the market when it came to measuring the freshness and nutritional value of store-bought produce. Unlike pre-packaged food items which are labelled with nutritional data, fresh fruits and vegetables are purchased with only a general idea of the vitamins, minerals and calories they contain. TeakOrigin saw the opportunity to change this, using advanced technologies to accurately measure the nutritional value of different types of produce and compare the values between different grocers. This enables shoppers to see which stores’ produce provides the best value, not just in terms of price, but in terms of nutrition and quality.

We worked with TeakOrigin to develop a commercial business model, digital user experience, and brand strategy to help launch this platform to the public. The resulting application is easy to use and empowers shoppers to find the best quality produce available. Grocery chains also have a new tool at their disposal to renegotiate supplier agreements and make informed pricing decisions.

Recognising design excellence

We believe smarter user centered innovation makes people’s lives, and the world, better. It requires a diverse team of experts for our teams and that of our clients who each bring their own unique skill and vision to to define new possibilities and deliver new-to-the-world products and services. We’re proud to have won two iF DESIGN AWARDS in recognition of our innovative approach to design. These wins affirm our commitment to excellence and serve as a testament to our purpose, bringing ingenuity to life.

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About the authors

Richard Watson
Richard Watson Essential Design product design and innovation expert

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