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Given the scale of Belfast city, and the NI USER FACTOR objective: to create a shift in the business mindset here i.e. one that seeks to apply service design solutions to business challenges, it made sense to build upon the momentum for design during Belfast Design Week (BDW). BDW, in addition to celebrating design, strive to illuminate the ways in which design is driving industry, by illustrating the many ways in which it is being used today. This year, the design week programme included systems modelling, VR and service design, as a few small examples.

Our involvement with this initiative took the shape of embedding the USER-FACTOR in Belfast Design Week. During the week, in addition to embedding our USER-FACTOR training session, the X-Factor in Business Workshop, the week created many opportunities to engage and layer learning relating to service design as a tool of innovation in business. This included, embedding the importance of the user and service design in talks, presentations and peer learning, but also by making visible some of the tools used in service design, such as user boards and usability testing. Making these, we exposed participants to the benefits of engaging the user, whist encouraging simple innovations in gathering user research. From taster sessions to the full X-Factor session, to service design clinics to engaging via social media as a means to educate, it was a week-long concentrated endeavour to engage and immerse people in design, service design tools, methods and the reality of the experience economy.

The week was successful and facilitated learning and engagement across sectors citywide. We anticipated we would make our quota for the training, but quickly realised that by facilitating engaged conversations with key gatekeepers in additional business communities, such as the Business Improvement Districts, we would have the opportunity to recruit businesses with interest in the training. Also, smaller sessions gave people the chance to see service design in action and see the benefit of training. And since the Design Week, we have had the opportunity to exhibit at Global Entrepreneurship Week on November 20th, which has also resulted in connecting with more gatekeepers. So far, an additional 15 participants have indicated they would like to avail of the USER-FACTOR training, which we will be re-running in January.

There is an untold impact, beyond the people reached which tallies close to 150 through direct participation. There is no tally of course for those who were exposed to the marketing relating to the USER-FACTOR project, however significant.


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