Human-centered digital design – Why we start with 'who?' not 'how?'

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Human-centered digital design – Why we start with 'who?' not 'how?'

Who runs the world? Beyonce - of course. But also, surprisingly, digital design agencies. They create the digital media you can’t stop watching, the websites you visit, the products you use and the industry trends you follow. More and more so they have become an increasingly influential arm of the technology industry. However, in the words of Voltaire (and Spiderman’s uncle Ben), “With great power comes great responsibility”.

There was once a time when digital design agencies were only responsible for ensuring their clients’ were provided with shiny, new projects and that their branding was on point. Now some are taking on roles of greater responsibility and becoming pioneers; driving technological change.

Through design and development they are using their expertise to create innovative solutions to complex problems. Healthcare is now safer and more accessible than ever thanks to on-demand apps and digitised services. Banking can be carried out with the swipe of a finger, your entire home can now be controlled at the touch of a button, and apps such as Olio and Too Good To Go are tackling environmental issues such as food wastage. Many industries, processes and societal issues have been revolutionised and simplified in some way by the advent of technologies. As such, digital agencies are now in a position where they can make a real difference to the world.

Recognising their influence and position, many digital design agencies are making a shift to be more conscious, aware and adapt to socially responsible ways of working. And about time too! These agencies are beginning to use their digital resources and influence to help people. They’re becoming ‘human-centered’. Before taking on a project they ask “Who?” And that’s exciting.

But what is a ‘human centered’ digital design agency?

Let’s say you approached a digital design agency and said you wanted to create an app. They might respond in one of two ways;

  • “Cool, yeah let’s build this. What do you want it to do? Do you want it to use virtual reality? That’s really trendy right now, it’ll get you loads of engagement”

  • “Great - who is it for? What is its true purpose? How will it help people? What need does it solve? What user research have you done?”

Thinking beyond the final outcome is integral to our company culture and beliefs at Digital Detox. For us, the objective should never be to just ‘create an app’ or ‘design a website’. It is our belief that new technologies and digital experiences must add value to humanity and be purged of unnecessary barriers of complexity.

The way in which an agency responds to your initial enquiry can tell you a lot about how human-centered they are. A human-centered design agency will work with you to set a needs-based goal first and then use technology as an enabler - never the other way around.

Why we start with “Who?”, not “How?”

While it may be tempting to just to use technology as a sales tool to wow clients and deliver fantastic projects, rarely does it do ‘good’ for anyone. As a human-centered digital design agency, we’re always focused on how the experiences we create impact people and the world around us. We are incredibly lucky to have access to the latest digital tools and technology to help us do what we do. But, we want to go one step further and use these resources to make people’s lives better - and this is our passion. We genuinely care about people, the environment and how we can use digital design for the better. Technology is simply the vehicle.

Whether we’re helping the environment, people, animals, industry development or all of the above, we want our work to make a difference. We want to focus on building technology that makes sense. That means it has a purpose, it makes an impact, and it puts humanity front and centre. We turn down projects that don’t feel ethical, or those that make our moral compass feel a bit wobbly.

As Digital Detox grows, we have been fortunate to be at the forefront of some incredible innovations. From creating an app in conjunction with MARINElife that could help save dolphins, to supporting companies that champion sustainability, as well as addressing inequality issues and promoting wellbeing, we believe we have a duty to use our influence and resources to do good.

We’d love to hear about your ideas, challenges and opportunities and find ways to help you simplify processes, improve people’s lives and make a real difference. Call us on 020 8050 1357 or send us a message.