By Bahar Kumar
As many of you know, Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a mindset and practice that we heavily promote here at Nepal Communitere. So you can only imagine our sheer joy when we were invited by our friends and colleagues at Cue Studio, (a spin off from Utopia Kathmandu) to join this intimate “Community of Practice” (COP). A COP we came to learn is really a meet-up of geeks who want to indulge in speaking the same language and have deep conversations to unpack all the nitty-gritty related to a specific topic. We come together every month through Zoom where one of us facilitates a learning session to strengthen our HCD skills.
Kavyaa Rizal, Creative Director of Cue Studio shared her vision for the HCD COP to be a space to “support current practitioners, increase the uptake of HCD practices in Nepal, and produce resources that are contextualized to our culture, working styles and language.”
Our very first session back in May was on exploring all the cool tools out there to run virtual Design Sprints, from Miro , Mural and Google Jamboard. We played with different ways to simultaneously collaborate on a virtual whiteboard using fun icons, post-it notes, emojis, GIFs and voting features to co-create and collectively strategize – something that is so needed in this new norm of social distancing. Many of us are having to move our design thinking practice to remote and virtual platforms, so this was a perfect way for all of us to become familiar with all these different tools.
Ever since that May session, I have fallen in love with Miro and use it all the time to create fun diagrams for reports and proposals. I really wanted to try and use Miro as a platform to run a virtual session so I signed up to facilitate the June HCD COP that focused on building Empathy to test my skills running remote sessions. It was loads of fun for me, but the challenge with virtual sessions is that you remain really limited by the two-dimensional screen.
That being said, we all walked away with some great new learnings about empathy. We discovered how the Empathy Map can be a tool that we can explore using during interviews as a data collection tool as opposed to only being used to synthesize. Kavyaa Rizal of Cue Studios, who helped to initiate the HCD COP, noticed that participants also highlighted the struggles with over-empathizing as designers. How can we strike a balance so that we are inspired to find creative solutions, but don’t get pulled down by the dire situations and challenges our users face?
My biggest learning was that even though virtual platforms have their challenges, the more we use and play with them, the more discoveries we’ll have about what’s possible. In this new norm of COVID-19, we’ll have to create new ways to engage with one another. I feel fortunate to have this community of Design Geeks to build a new way of collaborating and strategizing remotely. Keep an eye out for virtual Design Sprints that both the Nepal Communitere and Cue teams will be offering soon!