How to Create Human Centered Design Solutions in the Economy of Connection

Think about the world we live in today. What apps or businesses are successful? Some that come to my mind are Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Apple and the slew of online dating apps/sites. These all have one thing in common: they connect us.

Have you noticed how many people are surprised when you make eye contact with them or even say hello? These simple actions that once were normal seem un-normal now, as many of us live in our own isolated world of technology. People shy away from connection, even though they crave it. Why? It’s fear of rejection.

People are now bombarded constantly with information — too much. And it’s constant. There’s no end to it. We’re burned out from fake news, false advertising. The Internet is full of useless content, so we’ve learned to tune it out. Now, we only tune into what WE want to to tune into. We’ve got choices and are not limited by what’s available to us. However, this has caused us to become more isolated in many ways. We don’t know how to connect with others anymore.

As human centered designers, it’s our responsibility to take our art to the next level, beyond the screen, in order to create meaningful connections in the world. We need to do that by creating art that matters.

How to Create Solutions That Matter
As human centered designers, we need to create content that actually helps people, that brings positive change into the world. Seth Godin touches on this point in his audiobook Leap First. He argues that there are two types of people in the world: those that want to be better and those that want to be safe. Those of us who want to be better have to take risks, do things that get us out of our comfort zone. There’s a fine line that you ride of duality that what you are creating might work. However, it might not work as well. As an artist, we always have to straddle that fine line, work with that tension, and use it to fuel our work. We want to do work that is worth doing. We want to create art, create change that people seek and hope that it helps them.

Do you want to be someone who plays it safe, who holds yourself back from creating good art because of fear of failure? This is something that is ingrained into us going to school. The roots of doing “industrial work,” doing what you’re told, step by step, stems from the Industrial Revolution when businesses wanted factory workers to repeat mechanical processes. Common Schools were founded originally during that time on order to get people to obey orders.

Defining the Economy of Connection
Now, that’s all changed. Society is shifting from the Industrial Revolution to the Economy of Connection. In today’s world, factory work is always going to be outsourced. The market is shifting into make lives more meaningful and improve lives by building connections. That’s where there is true value. That is where there is possibility of monetization (if you’re looking at it from that point of view). However, money isn’t the end goal. Of course, you want to be paid as a human centered designer to create more art, but in order to do that, you need to make art that matters. Create great art, offer it to the world. And if it doesn’t succeed the first time, that’s ok. You just need to keep on creating more art, better art.

An example of a creative, human centered design solution was made as a concept at the workshop I attended last November at Frog Design’s HQ in San Francisco, CA. The team created the concept of an interactive art piece that would be placed on BART trains. When passengers of BART would touch the art, it would make music. BART riders would experience making music together through various senses (visual, audio, tangible), and in doing so, build connections. It would add meaning to the now tedious BART rides. Now that’s positive change.

Some Tips From Charlotte
I’ve got some tips on creating great art. I suggest starting your day with Prime Your Vibe. This is like affirmations for your long-term goals and projects. When you’ve got your goals in the back of your mind, you’re able to focus on creating art that solves problems from a human centered design approach. It really gets you to what really matters at the heart of a project, and keeps you from being distracted from setbacks.

I also suggest that you learn and apply Design Thinking to your project lifecycles and creations. This allows you to distill larger problems into an achievable, meaningful solutions centered around enhancing the human experience. Not only will your customers benefit, but your team will as well with this collaborative approach to solving real world problems.

What are some examples of human centered design solutions that contribute to the economy of connection? How have you created art that contributes to our new market? Share below!

Tools and Resources
Design Thinking in Action post by Charlotte Chapman
Handling Rejection When Creating Art by Charlotte Chapman
Reframe Your Thinking of Design post by Charlotte Chapman
Achieving Your Goals with Prime Your Vibe post by Charlotte Chapman
Leap First: Creating Work That Matters by Seth Godin

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