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My colleague and talented UXD Oli Shaw gave me the heads up on IDEO’s HCD toolkit. I have been a fan of IDEO for some time and am particularly interested to see them showing a practical interest in offering advice to developing nations (forgive me for the dreadful term). While my experiences in Africa have left a lasting impression of the passion, dedication and professionalism of the teams I have worked with out there, there were challenges around some of the subtler arts of the UXD discipline. These can be as cultural as they are technical or economic; while a DIY/FOSS approach is admirable, it tends to miss on some of the measurement/analyitics/metrics side of things and certainly I have seen designers go straight into Photoshop before actually spending much time with potential users… finding out what they want and need… With so much rapid change, particularly where economies are developing rapidly, and the ethnic movement and mixing prevalent in many areas, the study of users, their behaviours and expectations is more important than ever. I for one, have oft been humbled into silence having not understood the subtleties of a colour-scheme or use of language or imagery and how this can mean different things to people from different cultural backgrounds… TESSA was a terrific example of that.

Things to think about:

– Penetration and use of platforms, technology and connectivity

– Role of women and girls, religious minorities, migrants – their cultural standing – set an example

– Religious, historic, hierarchical, and political contexts

– Availability of education and support networks to prop up user communities

– How can the solution you are developing fold into the social environment of the users.. are there ways in which it can support businesses, healthcare, education locally? What about online communities with local and regional relevance..?

…more on this to come I am sure, but definitely worth downloading and reading. Would welcome your comments.

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