By Erin Hunter
How are you doing?
My guiding professional principle is empathy – the Design for People practice is built around “empathic design” – but in 2020 empathy was indispensable well beyond the workplace. I know many of us did our jobs from kitchen counters, poured gallons of energy through tiny webcams, and made the best of forced but prudent isolation. (Yes, there was a higher incidence of dog involvement in project work – at least in my Zoom meetings.)
We made do without a lot of the face-to-face human contact that makes creative work not just satisfying, but joyful. I don’t think it’s ever been more important to inquire: How are you doing?
We all know people who’ll be grateful to hear you ask. Especially in this season of peace. My holiday wish, if I dare ask for one, is for all of us to pose that question more often with true intent. Ask the ICU nurse who’s a friend of a friend. Ask the caterer looking for gigs, or your Postal Service carrier. Maybe we’ll retire the carelessly muttered, no-answer-expected “How you doin’?” permanently. Not a bad way to see 2020 off.
I’m proud of what Design for People accomplished this year. We launched popular online learning resources for Adweek and IBM. Here’s the case study. We’re advising the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, where in-person tours have been suspended due to coronavirus, on new learning programs for internet audiences. We lent design support to Many Hands, a DC area philanthropy where women support women and families in need; one of Many Hands’ grantees is Nourish Now, a food bank in Rockville, Maryland where COVID-19 drives unprecedented demand. More about how we’ve been giving back.
And Design for People backed a new online thought center for better interactive design, The Empathic Design Institute – which is just what it sounds like. An examination and celebration of friendly, effective design principles, and ways to spread them around. I’m particularly gratified by that. Visit at your leisure.
My teammates and I are always happy to count you as a colleague and a friend – but especially this year. Thank you. I’m grateful to know you, and hopeful that 2021 will mean more serene days. Please stay safe. We’ve come this far.
When the mood strikes, let me know: How are you doing?
Best wishes for peace and health this holiday season.
Founder & CEO, Design for People