After winning the Initial Public Offer (IPO48) competition held in Strathmore, for co-founding the MFarm idea and prototype, Linda spent 6 months, working with and among small scale farmers in Kinangop, a town close to the Aberdare Mountains. Why you may ask? To understand her users. You see, Linda realized that if she was going to create technology products and services that would be used to return a profit, she had to consult and understand her users in order to know their wants.
Importance of User Input in Product Development
The first MFarm product to benefit from user input was the Market price information. By interacting with this MFarm product, users gave input to how they would like their service delivered, what they wanted the product to do for them and how much they were willing to pay for the service. The price information service underwent and is still undergoing necessary iterations, improvement and additional services, that have contributed to it being the most sought after product in MFarm by its users. Working amongst and for the small scale farmers gave insight to the importance of more MFarm services and products, like, The Marketplace where farmers can post and collectively sell their farm produce to alternative markets. The more MFarm interacts with her users the higher the value delivered.
This approach to product development is known as user-centered design, where one of the main premises is to design products tailored to meet the needs of the users. In order to share and grow her experiences in user-centred design, Linda helped set up WananCHI, which is a local ACM chapter seeking to share user-centered design principles with students and entrepreneurs. WananCHI’s main goal is to share and provide tools for students and startups who, in their own individual ways, will be part of the design of products, services and experiences that matter to the Kenyan mwananchi.
What is WananCHI?
WananCHI is an ACM SIGCHI local chapter that aims to spur its members to creating solutions for the challenges faced by the Kenyan mwananchi. ACM stands for Association of Computing Machinery ( http://www.acm.org ). It is the largest and most highly distinguished educational and scientific computing society in the world. SIGCHI is a subgroup within ACM that brings together academics and practitioners who understand that designing useful and usable technology has the power to improve people’s lives considerably( http://www.sigchi.org ). SIGCHI stands for Special Interest Group in Computer-Human Interaction.
WananCHI is an interplay of the word wananchi, which is Kiswahili for citizens, or common man, and CHI, which stands for Computer-Human Interaction, the umbrella of user-centered design. As WananCHI, we are interested in spurring our members to create relevant, easy to use, satisfactory and afrocentric solutions that solve challenges the Kenyan wananCHI face.
WananCHI has partnered with @iBizAfrica, the incubation center at Strathmore University in order to facilitate design sessions that involve use of innovative, useful and profitable technologies among local students and entrepreneurs. Every last Thursday of the month, WananCHI SIGCHI chapter will host Design Sessions, which are themed workshops that cover various fundamentals of user-centered design. Design Sessions will be held at @iBizAfrica offices, which are located on the 4th floor of the Strathmore Business Centre.
What you need to know:
1st Design Session: 29th January at 5.30pm.
Who can attend: All students and techpreneurs are invited to take part in this session.
How frequent are the sessions? Every last Thursday of the month
Register here to attend this month’s Design Session.
Topic of discussion will be: “How to identify the right users”