When Policy Meets Design

Why is the government now keen to bring design in their work? How can design transform the policy making process to be more human-centered and collaborative? What challenges are there and how can we overcome the challenges together?

In her talk at the recent UXSG Conference 2016 (7-9 September), our Director, Dr. Jung-Joo (JJ) Lee explored these questions through the latest collaboration between Service Design Lab Singapore and the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The collaboration has three main components:

  1. A series of design projects on services for migrant workers and foreign domestic workers;

  2. Follow-up investigation on impacts after the design projects; and

  3. A series of design competencies workshops.

This three-fold collaboration model aims to achieve a three-level transformation of design in the government: from ‘the service offering level’ to ‘the capability level’ to finally, ‘the organisational culture level’.

In this talk, JJ introduced the tool for mapping organisation’s design competence and a project planning game. She also highlighted how to embed design competencies within the government, going beyond one-off collaborations.

Design Research Methods

Too often, designers are seen as "aestheticians". But what people don't realize is that design goes way beyond the surface of just making things look pretty. Our job is to make things understandable, and relatable to people. That in itself is the beauty of design.  

In achieving that level of understanding to design pertinent solutions, designers use certain methods and tools to better understand their users. This research phase reveals insights in typical routines that are uncovered unless scrutinized. That, is exactly what we do. 

We found this read particularly useful to explain some of the common methods designers adopt,  explained in layman terms for beginners. We hope it's applicable to you too! :)

10 Design Principles (by GDS)

The best designs are those catered to users' needs, and we stress over and over that the approach to every project will differ, because your users are different. There really is no standard recipe in Design. But we understand that as young designers, sometimes you just need a little direction to get started. So here is a set of principles that resonates with our pedagogy, and we hope that you it could get you kickstarted too! 

Empathy vs. Sympathy

Empathy is the most important asset a designer can have, as it allows you to connect with your users and better understand their needs. In the platforms we lead, we constantly advise young designers to put themselves out there and listen to the unheard voices of their users to truly grasp the situation that they are designing for. 

This video is one of our lab's favourites, because it clearly describes what we advocate in our daily work and we definitely could not have explained it better. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did :)