Exploring the Work Process of Design Practitioners in Bangladesh and their Motivation to Adopt Human-centered Design Methodology: A Qualitative Case Study
Wahid bin Ahsan, Sultana Nasrin Anika, Tanjina Akter, Dip Chandra Dey, Asad Uz Zaman, Shishir Sarker
This qualitative study aimed to explore the work process and challenges faced by design practitioners in Bangladesh towards adopting human-centered design (HCD) methodologies. Fifty participants from various industries were interviewed to gain insights into their design process, industry-specific findings, and the challenges they face. The study found that while designers in Bangladesh have strong visual design skills, they lack an understanding of HCD methodologies and face challenges with time management, payment issues, and access to resources. The findings also emphasized the importance of promoting a collaborative environment between clients, designers, and management and access to quality education and resources to support the adoption of HCD methodologies in Bangladesh. The study provides valuable insights into the design process and challenges faced by designers in Bangladesh and highlights the need for design education, communication, and collaboration improvements.
Keywords: Human-centered design, Design practitioners, Bangladesh, Design process, Challenges, Design Education, Professional development
Design is a process that involves creating solutions to meet human needs and wants. It is a process of constantly evolving and adapting to society’s changing needs and demands. In recent years, human-centered design (HCD) has gained popularity as a methodology for creating human-centered solutions that meet the needs of the end-users. HCD is a design approach that puts people at the center of the design process, taking into account their needs, wants, and context. HCD is an approach to problem-solving that starts with a deep understanding of the people for whom the design is intended (Brown, 2008).
The current study aims to understand the factors influencing the work process of design practitioners in Bangladesh and their motivation to adopt human-centered design methodology. The significance of this research lies in the fact that HCD is a relatively new approach in the design industry in Bangladesh, and there is a limited understanding of the challenges and opportunities for its adoption. By understanding the factors that influence the work process of design practitioners in Bangladesh and the challenges they face in adapting HCD methodology, this research aims to provide insights that can be used to improve the design process and create more user-centered solutions to meet the needs of the end-users.
Design is a vital aspect that contributes to the development of products and services, and the design process is a critical part of human-centered design. Human-centered design is an approach that prioritizes the users and focuses on understanding and addressing their needs, wants, and limitations in the design process (Norman, 1988). In recent years, there has been a growing interest in this methodology within the fields of product design, service design, and interface design. However, the adoption of human-centered design in Bangladesh is still in its early stages. Despite the increasing number of design practitioners in Bangladesh, the design process is not yet fully understood, and the use of human-centered design methodology is not yet widespread.
To promote the growth and development of the design industry in Bangladesh, it is crucial to understand the factors that influence the work process of design practitioners and their motivation to adopt the human-centered design. This study aims to provide insights into the challenges and opportunities for human-centered design adoption in Bangladesh and to inform the country’s design education and practice. The findings of this study will be valuable for design educators, practitioners, and organizations in Bangladesh to comprehend the current state of the design industry and to develop strategies for enhancing the design process and promoting the adoption of human-centered design. strategies for improving the design process and the adoption of human-centered design.
Research Design: A qualitative case study approach was employed to gain an in-depth understanding of the factors that influence the work process of design practitioners in Bangladesh and their motivation to adopt the human-centered design methodology (Creswell, 2018).
Research Questions: The central question of this study is, “What are the factors that influence the work process of design practitioners and how can they be motivated to adopt a human-centered design process?” To answer this question, five sub-questions were developed to guide the study (Creswell, 2018):
- What drives designers to pursue their profession?
- What is the typical work process followed by design practitioners?
- What factors influence the design work process chosen by practitioners?
- What challenges do designers face in their work process?
- What is the level of understanding and awareness of human-centered design among practitioners and how did they acquire this knowledge?
Participants: The sample consisted of 50 design practitioners with work experience of 1-21 years from various industries such as IT, telecommunication, advertising, training institutes, and freelance designers. Participants were recruited through snowball sampling and purposive sampling techniques to ensure a diverse sample (Patton, 2015).
To ensure the credibility of the study findings, students enrolled in our institution, Userhub, were not included in the sample. This was done to avoid any potential bias in the findings, as Userhub teaches human-centered design as part of its curriculum.
Data Collection: Data was collected through semi-structured interviews conducted online via Zoom. The average length of the interviews was 20-30 minutes. The interview sessions were recorded with the participant’s consent, and the recorded data was transcribed for analysis. Demographic data were collected before the interview using Google Forms.
Instruments: A semi-structured interview protocol was developed to collect data from the participants. The protocol consisted of 6 semi-structured questions that aimed to gather information on the participants’ early careers, knowledge of the design process, work process, work environment, and challenges they face in their work process. The questions were designed to be open-ended, allowing participants to provide detailed and in-depth responses. The interview protocol was piloted with a small sample of participants to ensure its effectiveness and clarity, and any necessary revisions were made based on their feedback (Creswell, 2018). Demographic data was captured using Google Forms.
Data Analysis: The transcribed data were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The data were coded, categorized, and then reviewed and discussed among the research team to identify patterns and emerging themes. To ensure the findings’ reliability, six researchers analyzed the data independently, and their findings were compared and contrasted (Flick, 2014).
Ethical Considerations: The study was conducted by the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association. Informed consent was obtained from all participants, and their anonymity and confidentiality were maintained throughout the study (American Psychological Association, 2017).
The study sheds light on various aspects of the design industry in Bangladesh, including the background and design knowledge of designers, work processes, industry-specific findings, and the challenges they face.
Career and Design Knowledge
The majority of the designers in the study began their careers as graphic designers, inspired by their interest in drawing. This has resulted in a strong focus on visual design, as evidenced by their formal training and self-taught skills, which are primarily centered around software tools such as Figma, Adobe XD, Photoshop, and Illustrator. However, this training also reveals a gap in understanding and a lack of emphasis on key aspects of design, such as user research and human-centered design methodologies.
Designers in Bangladesh are faced with several challenges in their work process, including poor time management due to strict deadlines set by management and overlapping projects. Freelance designers reported facing payment issues with local clients, including limited budgets and non-payment for completed work. International clients were also reported to sometimes set random budgets without understanding the scope of the work. The payment system and conversion rates were also identified as a concern.
Inspiration and Requirement Analysis
The designers in Bangladesh primarily base their work process on competitor research, searching the market for similar products, and drawing inspiration from them. The requirement analysis is also largely performed by analyzing competitors, except the e-commerce and financial services industries.
Client-Centered Work Process
Designers in Bangladesh place a strong emphasis on catering to their client’s needs, with customers being their top priority. Both freelancers and full-time designers collect requirements through direct client interviews or provided briefs, with the latter receiving their requirements from superiors. The majority of full-time designers work on-demand tasks. All industries, except for consumer electronics and telecommunications, are customer-focused.
Design and Prototyping
The design process in Bangladesh typically involves brainstorming, ideating, developing a prototype, creating visual styles, and receiving feedback from clients. A limited number of designers use agile methods and Google’s design sprint methodology to enhance team performance and develop user journey maps and personas. The telecommunications and e-commerce industries are the only ones that conduct user research and adopt agile methods, while the advertising industry primarily works with pre-defined templates.
Industry Specific Findings
- The IT, training institutes, and consumer electronics industries sometimes create user journey maps and user personas for project development.
- Designers from advertising agencies work with limited customization within pre-defined templates.
- The telecommunications and service platform industries conduct user research, use agile methods, and follow Google’s design sprints.
- IT, service, telecommunications, and advertising agencies perform on-demand tasks.
Problems and Challenges
The study highlights several significant challenges faced by designers in Bangladesh, including:
- Time management: full-time designers face challenges with time management due to strict deadlines and multiple projects, while part-time and remote designers struggle with conflicting timelines and meeting schedules.
- Payment issues: Freelance designers face payment issues, including limited budgets and non-payment for completed work, with both local and international clients.
- Access to resources: Freelance designers reported difficulties with internet connectivity and the cost of high-configuration laptops/PCs required for their work, as well as a lack of access to quality education and resources.
- Lack of client requirements: Many full-time designers struggle without proper client requirements, leading to difficulties in creating designs without a clear purpose.
- Lack of management understanding: Except for the consumer electronics, e-commerce, and financial services industries, many designers reported that their management lacks knowledge of the design process and the importance of user experience, hindering communication and collaboration between the design team and management.
The findings of this study demonstrate that designers in Bangladesh have a strong foundation in visual design and have often received training focused on software tools. However, this training has resulted in a lack of understanding of other critical aspects of design such as user research and human-centered design methodologies. This is evident in the design process, which often involves searching the market for inspiration and creating visual presentations before beginning the main project.
The study highlights the importance of client education and communication in the design process. Designers must communicate the value of originality to their clients and work together to understand their true needs and goals for the project. Additionally, designers often face time constraints and unrealistic expectations from management, which can affect the quality of their designs. Effective communication and collaboration between clients, designers, and management are crucial to ensure that the client’s needs are fully understood and met.
Furthermore, the study highlights the need for designers to have access to all client requirements to create designs that truly meet the client’s needs. This can be achieved through improved communication and collaboration between all parties involved in the design process. To ensure the success of design projects, designers, clients, and management need to work together to establish realistic expectations and provide adequate time for the design process.
The findings of this study provide insights into the challenges faced by designers in Bangladesh and the importance of client education, communication, and collaboration in the design process. These findings can be used to guide the development of design education programs, improve design processes, and enhance the overall quality of design work in Bangladesh.
In light of the findings, we suggest several recommendations to enhance the design process in Bangladesh.
- Client Education: Clients need to be made aware of the significance of originality and the benefits of collaborating with designers to understand their objectives and needs.
- Time Management: Designers should express their need for adequate time to the management, and management should comprehend the design process and the time required for creating high-quality designs.
- Effective Communication and Collaboration: A collaborative environment should be promoted between clients, designers, and management to guarantee that the client’s requirements are fully comprehended and fulfilled.
- Human-centered Design Methodologies: Designers should be motivated to use human-centered design methodologies, such as user research, prototyping, and testing, to better comprehend the end user’s needs and preferences.
- Education and Training: Designers in Bangladesh should be given access to quality education and training in human-centered design and user research methodologies through workshops, online resources, and training programs.
- Professional Development: Designers should be encouraged to continuously learn and grow professionally to stay updated with the latest design trends and tools.
- Collaboration with Clients: Designers should engage in active collaboration with clients and other stakeholders to understand their needs and create designs that effectively meet those needs.
- Management Awareness: Management should be educated about the importance of human-centered design and the advantages of incorporating user research into the design process.
- Clear Contracts and Agreements: Designers should establish clear contracts and agreements with clients, including payment terms and project expectations, to ensure that both parties are on the same page.
The study explored the design process and challenges faced by designers in Bangladesh. The findings showed that visual design is a strong area for designers in Bangladesh, but there is a lack of understanding of user research and human-centered design. The study also emphasized the importance of client communication and the challenges faced in terms of time management, payment, resources, client requirements, and management understanding.
This study provides valuable insights and highlights the need for improvements in design education, communication, and collaboration in Bangladesh. The recommendations can guide the development of design programs and improve the design process for the benefit of designers and clients. By addressing these challenges and promoting best practices, Bangladesh has the potential to become a hub for quality design work.
Opportunities for Future Research
This study provides valuable insight into the design process and challenges faced by designers in Bangladesh. However, it has a few limitations, such as the focus being limited to the perspectives of design practitioners and not encompassing the perspectives of other stakeholders involved in the design process. Additionally, the data analysis was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a delay.
To build upon the findings of this study, there are several opportunities for future research. One opportunity would be to broaden the scope of the study to include the perspectives of clients and management, in addition to design practitioners, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence the design process. Another opportunity would be to study the impact of human-centered design methodologies in different countries and cultures and explore ways to adapt to suit local needs and challenges. Further research may also consider using alternative data collection methods, such as ethnographic observation, to gain a deeper understanding of the participants’ experiences.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the design practitioners who participated in this study. Their insights and experiences were invaluable to this research, and we are grateful for their willingness to share their time and expertise. Our sincere thanks also go to those who recommended fellow designers to participate, their support was critical to the success of this project.
Declaration of interest
The authors of this study are affiliated with Userhub, an institution that teaches human-centered design as part of its curriculum. To maintain impartiality and credibility in the findings, students enrolled in Userhub were excluded from the sample. The authors declare that there are no other conflicts of interest that could potentially impact the conduct or reporting of this research.
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