Designing for people you cannot understand

talk – 15 min | Feb 8 – 11:00

A talk about going back to real human empathy to overcome the impossibility to just understand.

Design entails a deep understanding of your user’s experience and journey if you want to design the right experience, the right product or the right service. Without this thorough understanding, you’ll always risk creating something that is not useful or that doesn’t really bring the value that you expected it to. But what if you don’t really stand a chance of getting to that level of understanding? What if you cannot immerse yourself into the experience of your user? What if I asked you to design an experience for blind people, when you can actually see?

I want to talk to you about this design research study I did for an NGO that helps disabled people plan their travel experiences. I want to tell you about how it changed my whole perception of what I do when they asked us to help them design travel experiences for blind people. I want to share with you what I learnt and how it brought me to understand the real purpose of design.

Design is more than user journeys and empathy maps and value canvases and workshops and all these tools that we use to build experiences. Design is about having an impact, changings lives, connecting with people. I believe that design is a profoundly human discipline that calls for pervasive human interaction and the necessity to forget one’s self and ego. I believe that design has the power to change lives and that as designers we have this responsibility to do so.

About the speaker

Marine Roy

Marine Roy


I’m a design thinker at heart. I started as an English teacher in French suburbs and successively switched to marketing analyst, startup founder, product manager and design thinker. I’ve walked many paths that have helped me become the designer I am today. Underneath this seemingly all over the place history, I believe that humanity and empathy are at the core of my journey and are the redline that pervades all of my choices.

Along the way, I have had amazing experiences. I’ve had the chance to work with large companies - such as Nurun, The Dun and Bradstreet Group, Jones Knowles Ritchie, or Europ Assistance - or with startups - like Unito, Makerbloks, Wealthtab, AskPam. I’ve prepared events such as CES, SXSW or the New York International Toy Fair. I’ve started a company that was incubated at the Founder Institute. I pitched at startup contests, was coached by great mentors and failed to reach product market fit … twice!

I am driven by passion and design with the same passion. I have met many amazing people that have all taken part in shaping the way I live the world and design within it. I believe that design can change people’s lives and that the role of the designer is to grasp the human experience and design to make it better.

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