At AGL Summit on May 23 in Sacramento, Eduardo Ortiz, an expert designer who formerly served as Creative Director and Director of Common Platforms at U.S. Digital Service, discussed the importance of user centered design in government.
Drawing from his experience improving the U.S. immigration system, Ortiz explained that “design” happens in unexpected places — such as the creation of policies and workflows in government that affect the lives of thousands of humans.
“Being a designer is the act of making decisions,” he said. “So design is actually political. Unfortunately it often happens that decisions are made without a full understanding of what the consequences will be.”
Regardless of what is being designed — from technology systems to political processes — Ortiz showed how better results could be achieved through activities like interviewing people, understanding the problem to be solved, and creating prototypes and adjusting them based on user feedback.
“You are all designers,” he told the assembled government practitioners. “Understanding exactly what you need to provide to your constituents is the first step to building something that is technologically sound. Understanding is the most important thing.”
Ortiz currently works with &Partners (andpartners.io), a design and technology firm focused on disrupting the status quo by leveraging tech, human-centered design and product know-how to solve challenges.