Different lenses for understanding users

Ahead of user research week. I thought it might be useful to introduce some other service design principles, that it might be useful to think about when designing a new service, namely Life-Cycles.

Lifecycles can aid your design by giving an “outside-in” perspective of what customers experience across an entire sector.

Human Lifecycle– this describes how people behave in different key stages in their life. Thinking about this, gives you an overview of what really matters in people’s lives beyond what your organisation offers, and helps you understand how your organisation can support customers in major transitions in their lives e.g. from school attendance (Hackney Learning trust) to school leaver (ways into work), to employment, to renting home a home (choice based letting) to parenthood (children’s centres) and onto retirement (day centres for the elderly). What customers may need from your service will vary according to what phase they are in their lives and what transitions they are going through in their life.


The Consumer lifecycle – describes how people behave in a market when they make choices about their needs or wants. So if someone is going on a business trip they may use a number of services to meet their needs. How a service comes together and interacts (with those offered by your partners and competitors) affects the overall consumer experience. Understanding how people make choices enables you to design a service which supports them to make the right choices.

The Customer lifecycle – describes how customers become aware of a service, choose a service, pay for a contract, use that service, upgrade a contract, have incidents with that service and then either renew their contract or leave. Anyone whom has purchased a phone under contract knows that how you are treated during that lifecycle will reflect whether you renew your contract or go elsewhere. So thinking about that whole lifecycle and how a service deals with customers during the lifecycle can help increase customer loyalty, retain customers and optimise the contract holding experience. Commercial waste contracts is an area the council deals with where consideration of the customer lifecycle in designing a new service may help.

The user lifecycle – is a tool to help reduce costs, drive efficiencies and trigger new behaviours when people use the product or service. This tool helps you visualise the journey a user goes through maybe using multiple channels when they interact with your service. It enables you to visualise the service delivery across multiple channels to enable you to simplify and improve customer interactions.

In conclusion when designing a new service you need to do so through the lenses of the human, user,consumer and customer lifecycles.

Introducing the Hackney Agile Lifecycle

Hi my name’s Michael Stevens, I work in Hackney ICT as head of business solutions (Hackney ICT’s team of business analysts/project managers and programme managers). This week I organised a team away day, the purpose of which was to help promote and embed our new agile ways of working the Hackney Agile life-cycle. A new process based on the Local Government Digital Service Standard and the design council’s double diamond process model which I have developed with the head of digital Matthew Cain

  • How was the away day designed ? as a series of role plays, with scripts for each part of the agile lifecycle. We asked attendees to work as part of a team, through a scenario using our agile lifecycle and produce the actual outputs they would in the real world. With one agile team per away day table. At the end of each stage a stage-gate presentation was given to the sponsoring group (sponsor) and permission sought to progress to the next stage.
  • What has the away day achieved? the away day is not the end of the journey in terms of agile, but an enabler for the start of a new chapter for the ICT dept. We will be doing follow up seminars to explore agile techniques in more depth such as Sprint planning , retrospectives and proto-typing, to help everyone in the unit build their knowledge and skills in agile techniques. Working in a more agile way is about us changing our emphasis, from being a support service that fixes things, to focus on being a strategic partner for our colleagues in other services in the council. Having an agile process in place will enable us to work more collaboratively as partners with our colleagues to deliver the excellent digital services of the future that our residents and partners need and deserve.

To access the away day scenario & scripts check out our drop box.