VHT Bonheur (second right) shares with the Guild team, supervisors and fellow VHTs, his experiences with the VHT app during the pilot phase of the rCHMIS solution.
The efforts of Human-centred Design (HCD) aim to place prospective users at the epicentre of the solutions-building process. This is achieved by making user preferences and experiences the very foundation upon which solutions are built. Doing this well results in products that are highly relatable and intuitive, particularly from the user’s perspective.
By sticking with this problem-solving approach, Guild has built highly accessible products that are creating great value for our partners because their users have already scrutinised the solution and are invested in it.
- The persona as a Collective Compromise
As solution builders, it is incumbent that we develop a product that preserves the individuality of the user but equally, one that fully encapsulates the responsibility expected of their role. Despite the technical facility of software products in general, the overemphasis on strictly technological aspects steepens the learning curve and lowers product buy-in with low-skilled users.
In the context of a refugee settlement, a refugee-status community health volunteer (CHV) typically spares four hours of their day to serve the community. This work is voluntary. In addition to economic inclusion, the primary motivation to serve for a CHV is that community service staves off the doldrums of settlement life, in part, but also affords them – as Maslow would have it – a sense of high purpose as they actively support and interact with health program activity. In this quest for occupational therapy and social ambition through service, the last thing a refugee needs is a burdensome and out-of-step experience doing work they are not sufficiently compensated to do.
For the technology, therefore, this must translate into keeping workflows simple and precise by capturing only what is absolutely necessary. The overarching objective is to create a painless and straightforward experience with adequate visual and cognitive appeal for their competence level. Achieving this balance with our products has resulted in a smooth experience that leaves the refugees satisfied and eager to review workflows and feature upgrades.
Our users identify with the personas because the prescribed user role does not thrust on them any complex and burdensome workflows. In turn, the technology team nullifies the dreaded hazard of an unsuccessful persona – low buy-in or outright rejection of our product.
- Technology as a mediator.
The inclusive nature of HCD methodology means that many interactions precede configuration for a product. Products coming off the back of HCD processes have a conciliatory effect. Each product that Guild has produced for the refugee environment brings to mind a couple of names of individuals, refugees contributing valuably. Quite a few have grown into trusty accomplices in our building and deployment process. The overall endeavour has produced very usefully albeit inanimate output. Technology is impersonal but there’s no denying that the fuel for its best outcomes is very human. In the end, technology has connected us to refugees in a lasting way because we’ve made it likeable – a triumph of HCD. This approach diminishes the undesirable quality of technology as a complex resource lacking in human warmth, particularly for low-skill users. The camaraderie that sustains the deployment of our solutions among refugee-status users is undeniably resultant of earlier interactions in the framework of human-centred design.