Hear phase of the IDEO human centered design toolkit


Step 1: Identify a Design Challenge


The first step of the hear phase consisted of me liaising with Joe Allen the managing director of a digital design company I am affiliated with. Between me playing the role of a marketing executive and his expertise as a the MD we put together a list of criteria we wanted for the project

  • Needs to be responsive.
  • Needs to fit Ascesis aesthetics.
  • Needs to be entirely digital.
  • Needs to be useable by non-tech literate.
  • Built in WordPress.
  • Created on minimal budget.
  • Needs to adapt too many mediums.
  • Provide 20 leads per month.

I then went on to develop a large selection of challenges which we would be facing, This was all done using sticky notes as it allow me to group together common problems and easily draw connections between in particular challenges.


I then came back to select the top challenges facing us based off the original criteria. These were already framed from the point of view of the end user, working back as part of a team we discussed which challenges would be the best for us to focus on carrying forward. We voted on it and eventually come to the decisions to use “Create a digital environment for decision makers to be educated and engage with Ascesis” as the key challenge.

Step 2: Recognize Existing Knowledge


Since I had been working with company for a while I was lucky enough to already have a large wealth of existing knowledge on the design challenge we had agreed upon. This meant the largest task was organising and presenting the knowledge so I could easily understand the larger picture of what I was seeing. This information came from a number of sources from analytics I had taken from the company’s website through google and AWR cloud, to feedback from customers to general research into the area of content marketing which was one of the main concepts we were working with.


Other places this information had come from were a varied source of in-depth question and answer sessions on Quorra, a large scale questionnaire survey done through the social news site Reddit as well as information from Joe the MD of the company and other pieces and parts of information from other workers at the organisation.

Step 3: Identify People to Speak With

Identifying people to speak with was an interesting challenge. Since the project was focused on decision makers in companies it meant that the average “user” of the end product was particularly difficult to procure access to which meant in the end I had to settle for Joe himself alongside some other mid-level decision makers which while not quite the perfect demographic definitely shared many if the same features as the target demographic.

I was also able to gather a list of possible specialists and experts which I could use for particular areas on which I wasn’t entirely knowledgeable. These included other employees from the company as well as some peers from university which had graduated but worked in fields which I had little to zero experience or knowledge.

IMG_0533 IMG_0535

Putting together these teams and groups was a case of working out which offered the best insights into which pieces of information and then making contact through social media of phone calls. Pretty much everyone was happy to oblige but some of my “experts” unfortunately turned out to working in slightly different fields but they were still happy to help when I came to it and their information was still of importance to the project.

Step 4: Choose Research Methods

Choosing the research methods I would use was slightly more straight forward than some of the other steps since the use of specialists and experts instantly led me to use fairly in depth interviews in the cases. Having already carried out larger surveys on sites like Reddit gave me some information into which questions where difficult to get answers to so I could focus on ways to answer these.


I myself had also been on both sides of the design challenge so had working knowledge from inside the field. This combined with some documentary style work and watching people interact with the systems we were working on gave me some good insights into how to go about collecting information and which methodologies where best applied where.

In the end I went for a split of interviews, group talks and immersion.

Step 5: Develop an Interview Approach

This was a simple case of designing the interviews featured below. Most of them were left fairly open so I could easily go off interview if I sense specific information which was relevant. The interviewee’s also tended to be very compliant and happy to help meaning that a lot of trust building and other difficult interview techniques could be slightly eased off and more time focused on the actual information I was chasing after.

Step 6: Develop Your Mindset

Developing the mid set was a particular challenge since I had a relatively (to others I had interviewed and collaborated with) large amount of experience in the area already. Being in a smaller group then the average HCD team also meant that I was both facilitator and designer which meant I could often see what I was supposed to ask and answer but these generally meant that the question where not having the intended effect. This I where I am starting to see cracks within the HCD toolkit in regards to using it in my very specific fashion. From here I intend to research into other methodologies and see what other elements I could add or take away from the toolkit when designing the artefact to make it better for my usage as it is becoming apparent that while the HCD toolkit is extremely useful it is also perhaps to generalised and team focused to be used for the whole of the artefact design.


Hear phase of the IDEO human centered design toolkit

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