With Norway about to launch inclusive design requirements for windows, window manufacturer NorDan saw this as an opportunity to innovate using Inclusive Design.
How can you improve an everyday object such as a windows?
Innovating in an established market such as windows can be difficult, but a people-centred approach can help to take a fresh look at the issues and uncover new ideas.
The design team worked with a variety of users to understand issues
The focus was on people’s everyday experience of using windows to get a better understanding of needs and aspirations in relation to windows. There was a spectrum of users representing extreme circumstances. These included a wheelchair user, a blind person, a person with arthritis and a student living in a tiny flat. Due to their more demanding needs, these people were more likely to demonstrate the inadequacies of current windows and provide varied and inspirational insight.
Basic functionality such as opening, closing and accessing the window was tested in workshops in the UK and Norway. One-to-one interviews in people’s homes gave a richer context to the research.
Ideas that not only meet new requirements, but also user aspirations
There were many outcomes including some unexpected ideas. These ranged from product improvements and ideas for service delivery to concepts for entirely new products. NorDan were able to choose from a range of user-driven innovation and are currently in the process of developing some proposals.
Adopting an Inclusive Design approach has ensured that NorDan will be able to comply with new legislation. However, this process has gone much further, resulting in innovations that can be used to gain competitive advantage. By engaging directly with its consumers, and understanding how they live with the product, NorDan’s windows can become more user-friendly and have more market appeal.
“It makes an impression to see a person operate windows with an elbow. You learn that they are not so easy for everyone to open”
Johannes Rasmussen, Managing Director, NorDan ASA
FROM INSIGHTS TO IDEAS: A short example of how an insight from the user research became a potential design idea.
PROCESSING INSIGHTS: With lots of impressions and new insights into how the users feel about windows, the designers starts sketching out solutions.
IDEA: Make the ‘cleaning mode’ a default, easier-to-use procedure whilst retaining processes for child safety.