Designing user-friendly technology
A Design Council case study

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Page 3: Teams

Design Council 2 Image 2MPC’s choice of team structure was critical to the successful development of One 2 One Personal Communications Network (PCN). It allowed them to maximise expertise by working cross functionally. Two teams were responsible for the development of the handset. Gary Maughan led the marketing and design team and Ian Johnson led the team responsible for technical and engineering aspects, as well as procurement and quality. The marketing focus of MPC meant that Gary Maughan had overall responsibility for the handset development. Existing products did not meet the appearance or MMI requirements and Gary Maughan went in search of help.

Gary Maughan spoke to a large number of design consultancies about his needs. He was aware that there were restrictions on what could be done in industrial design terms because the handset would be based on an existing product. The emphasis on ease of use meant that the designer would need to develop the MMI of the handset while producing a new appearance to appeal to target consumers. The designer had to be prepared to work closely with MPC.

Gary chose IDEO as being the most suitable consultancy. IDEO was a multidisciplinary group comprising industrial designers, engineers and human factor specialists. Their approach and strength involved studying consumers actually using products.

The design brief

At the first meeting, Gary presented a broad description of One 2 One’s brand values and the design strategy of the project. At this stage he had no specific written brief - just an overall explanation of the aims and requirements. Targets for volumes and prices were not fixed. Further meetings led to the development of a product idea.

A year after the first meeting with IDEO, Gary visited the proposed manufacturer with the two IDEO designers: Marc Tanner – responsible for industrial design and the project as a whole and Peter Spreenburg - responsible for interface design.

During the first meeting with the manufacturer, much of the discussion centred on design constraints. Although the manufacturer was unwilling to make significant changes to the existing unit (the position of the power switch and antenna), the designers were keen to see what scope there was for change, for example, the finish of the plastics used and the shape of keypad buttons. The meeting had no clear outcomes. Gary decided to adopt an approach which assumed that anything could be changed and instructed IDEO to work on that basis.

Design Council | Designing user-friendly technology