Dropping Design Probes

When we started working on our project we knew we needed to learning a lot about the community we were working with while attempting to over come cultural barriers. Our group was inspired how projects in Design for UNICEF used artifacts (or design probes) to elicit deep conversations with the communities they were embedded it. We sought to make our own design probes, so we could answer research and design challenges.

Unfortunately our attempts at fostering design probes and prototypes have been abandoned, and I felt it would be useful to outline the reasons we have abandoned this design process.

Fidelity expectations

Our partners are a health organization that makes software in a traditional manner, so the idea of purposefully testing half-baked software really goes against the grain. They want to see fully fleshed out software, which is in opposition to creating prototypes where you focus on the main actions.

Content is premium

The design probes we were making, we hoped would elicit new content, and learn about the real needs of our users. Yet letting go of control of content is difficult for many organizations — especially health organizations where accuracy and trust are important aspects of information and communication design.

Timeline pressure

Our initial plan was to have our designs tested before we entered the country, yet because of the previous reasons our partner was hesitant about attempting this. So as our timeline shrank, we realized that our timeline for learning and production needed to get shortened.

Moving forward

We are hoping to engage our clients needs, and use our current plan to build a mobile application as a starting ground for this work. By engaging in a more traditional production process, we are hoping to better match our partners expectations of our work — even though that means moving away from a more open ended process.