We’re pleased to share with you an insightful blog from MaaS Scotland Steering Board member, Beth Cocker. With the MaaS Scotland Conference Online kicking off tomorrow, Beth’s blog provides a taster of what you can expect to hear on the day and is especially relevant to our Technical Session 2 on User Engagement.
The Value of Engaging with Users
It’s exciting to see a variety of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concepts continuing to emerge here in the UK and globally. With more funding for MaaS and other transport innovations becoming available, it is imperative that we don’t lose sight who we are designing these services for. Meeting real needs and expectations of intended users will be key to the success of MaaS.
It is easy to think we already have a good understanding of, or empathy for, the needs of our potential users. This, however, is a risky approach to take. There is always value to be gained by facilitating good user engagement. When used at different stages in our work, this can allow for:
- A wider range of experiences to be heard;
- More nuanced understanding of needs, behaviours and expectations;
- A better examination of the relationships and stakeholders involved;
- Better idea generation;
- Validation (or invalidation) of concepts;
- Feedback on user interfaces, branding;
- Buy-in and loyalty to the final service.
In the practice of Service Design, where designers place user needs at the centre of the services under development, co-designing with potential future users is fundamental. This sees users being empowered throughout the design process. It usual begins with activities to gain a deep understanding of the issues to be tackled and the needs of the users. From there, co-designers ensure users participate in the design, prioritisation and testing of potential solutions. Users should be an equal partner in the decision-making – a definitive step beyond traditional consultation.
There are many existing tools and techniques ready to be deployed when co-designing – from participant observation to journey mapping, developing personas and various forms of prototyping.
There are also many resources that those new to the subject may wish to look at, including the Design Council’s introduction to ‘Design methods for developing services’ and the book, ‘This is Service Design Doing’. However, I would also encourage people to design their own tools and techniques to suit their project, the users they wish to engage with and the type of insights they are hoping to uncover.
Scotland is home to some amazing design agencies who specialise in co-design and service design more broadly, so expertise is never far away for those who want it.
Get in Touch
I have extensive experience of designing user-focused transport services and knowledge of MaaS, having written several successful bids for funding for MaaS initiatives including NaviGoGo (co-designed MaaS for 16-25 year olds) and Project Onwards (co-designed MaaS for people with dementia). Perhaps you are planning a bid for Round 2 of the Scottish MaaS Investment Fund, to Innovate UK or to T-TRIG and would like to talk more about how user engagement and co-design could fit into your work. If so, please feel free to get in touch on [email protected].