Aug 26. 2021

My first year as a User Centred Designer, with Iona Davis

What makes something user-friendly? It’s hard to put your finger on it. We don’t always notice when a product or service has been designed with the user’s experience in mind.

It’s much easier to spot when something is not user-friendly.

We’ve all experienced complicated video call software, frustrating booking processes and confusing instruction on how to use new kitchen gadgets.

A User Centred Designer’s work often takes place almost hidden behind the scenes and is focused on the users and their needs.

In our latest interview, User Centred Designer Iona Davis talks us through her first year in the role at PDR…

It’s a concept that can help any business achieve greater success.

Iona Davis | User Centred Designer | PDR

Iona became a user centred designer at the time when UK lockdowns were at their height.

“Adjusting to working from home definitely had its obstacles,” explains Iona. “With user centred design (UCD), observational studies - which usually take place in person - are a key step of the design process.

“We had to quickly pivot to conducting analysis online. Surprisingly, that’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience; a remote set-up has actually allowed us to conduct studies that are equally as detailed as in-person methods, and arguably even more so.”

Overall, Iona’s first year in UCD has been a good one: “The work is so varied, and I get to be involved in every stage of the design process. My work is very hands-on, and I’m having new experiences every day.”

Iona spent much of her first year working on a major project which entailed conducting a number of in-depth interviews and surveys assessing a product’s usability.

As work continues on this project, Iona could not disclose too much information on it, but she gave us an insight into the process: “With usability assessments, we look into an issue and consider a host of different solutions, weighing up their feasibility and crucially, their value to the end user.

“After assessing many options, we select the best solution and, working with users and stakeholders, refine it until it addresses users’ needs in a way that’s marketable and profitable.”

And future projects? “I’m most looking forward to working on the redesign of some existing medical devices,” she says. “I’m going to be focusing on making them easier to use and interact with. I’ll be considering both the medical professional and the patient’s experience, which will bring an added dimension to the design process.

We look into an issue and consider a host of different solutions, weighing up their feasibility and crucially, their value to the end user.

Iona Davis | User Centred Designer | PDR

With a background in industrial design, Iona is well-versed in approaching design from different perspectives.

“Recently,” she explains, “I’ve been working alongside the product design team on interface development to offer user centred insight. By combining these two disciplines, we’ve been able to work together to develop an improved product."

Iona says, “As the importance of UCD grows, those of us working in UCD need to shout about the concept so that companies can understand the value it’s bringing to their products and services.

“Many people already think in a way that resonates with user centred design; they’re just not aware of it. In the future, I can see more companies embracing a user focus when it comes to design; it’s a concept that can help any business achieve greater success.”

Next steps

Interested in taking a User Centred Design approach with your project? Take a look at our work or get in touch to arrange a discussion.