What does it mean for web design to be “human-centric?”

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Cat Mules

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web design

Enlighten Designs – Creating web environments that respond, link up, inform and empower.

Kiwi businesses can struggle to find the right tools to build and manage their own web presence. They’re typically dealing with short timeframes, feeling pressure to act quickly to capitalise on market opportunity, and suffering a lack of perspective on the tools they need to get the job done.

Coming from humble beginnings in a backyard caravan and spending 20 years leading market innovation and honing their expertise, Hamilton-based Enlighten Designs know the Kiwi start-up story like the back of their hand. Their recognition as 2020 Microsoft Country Partner of the Year for New Zealand was for a simple reason: their web design puts people at the centre of development. It’s an idea that’s evolved: the customer is always right – but the contemporary tech savvy customer is searching for smart feature-packed web applications with highly personalised UX.

Enlighten understands the value of user research and user-focused design methodologies.  Their human-centred approach is evidence-based: responsive design, analytical mapping power, and consistent business frameworks built to maximise insider know-how. They get the importance of taking a listening and information gathering role, drawing on tools and pulling pieces together into something unified that responds to client needs. In every one of their web developments, they focus on human-centric design, responding to the needs of end users.

Showcasing best-practice

While they understand that each website is different because end users are unique, one thing is certain – Enlighten has an impressive range of exemplars that demonstrate their insightful understanding of what makes a highly functional, successful website.  Each application is designed with specific users in mind, and links to the wider context, be it environmental sustainability, governmental service, or individual health and well-being.

One powerful example that Enlighten is globally recognised for is Sustainable Coastlines’  Litter Intelligence app and website. This collaborative project aligned with Enlighten’s own long-standing commitment to sustainability. The project began with an app where passionate community members could sign in and, officially or on an ad-hoc basis, log litter collected. As the project developed, collected information formed a database of litter insights across time. Understanding how users act ‘in the field’ is an approach Enlighten uniquely stresses as their point of difference.

Another notable example of Enlighten’s work is Te Waka – a business-led initiative to drive economic growth in the Waikato. Enlighten created a hub for streamlined workflows and points of interest for many different stakeholders, including iwi, business, government and the wider community.  An in-built news site allows external contributors to add content for rapid centralised review. An analytic tool set-up made ongoing insights visible, and responsive changes possible.

In the start-up space, the Hey Mama Movement (now Collective Upside) was a website that Enlighten were involved in from initial concept through to sophisticated technical functionality, and ultimately to launch.  Interrupted at an early stage by the COVID-19 lockdowns, the pressure was on to get to market as soon as possible – with the key objective to develop a web app that amplifies engagement with video hosting capability so participants can talk and work out at the same time. Features include virtual scheduling, options to invite friends to shared sessions, and virtual lobbies to spend time in after workouts.

Web design isn’t directly about publicity, but it plays a part. This web jazz-up of the traditional fitness industry led to a 500-wide social following on social media, registrations cropping up outside New Zealand, from 10 different countries, and feature segments on several local television stations.

Enlighten’s projects have evolved as they’ve carved out a niche for themselves in the web design industry. They’ve crossed many industry verticals, meeting stakeholder groups, and finding unique ways to bridge interests using technology. When Construction Marketing Services approached Enlighten to help build ProductSpec, Enlighten created an online catalogue where various vendors could pay a subscription to have their products featured on the site. They designed the Cloud-based Gallagher Customer Portal for the Gallagher Group’s high-tech security business that topped the charts for the fifth time in a row last year for its impressive growth. They’ve designed council hubs, built systems to connect homes to natural energy sources, and created a one-stop online shop delivering exceptional customer experience for farmers across New Zealand and Australia.

People – the enlightened point of difference

The web design field can be full of traps for young players. Clients are often not aware of the importance of carefully chosen visual aesthetics to guide users’ attention towards chosen outcomes, or they might not realise the importance of carefully selected call-to-actions that respond to visitor’s needs.

Enlighten understands that an ingredient essential to good web design is to respond to customer adaptation to technology. While keeping the project objectives and user experience central, utilising the latest capabilities of mobile technology and search with AI can be used to responsively structure systems. Damon Kelly, the company’s CEO and founder, believes “It’s not enough to just build a beautiful website anymore – it’s about building a digital platform that gives our clients the power to personalise and the ability to scale up to global levels by harnessing cloud and AI technologies”.

Back in their earlier days, Enlighten was helping engineering, procurement, and construction professionals with the next generation development of IT solutions. The world was very different then. They would travel to clients with lots of post-it notes and collaborate in on-site workshops. In the new world, Enlighten is operating in a digital workspace, and the collaborative process is virtual, with communication more instant, and collaboration on-demand.

It takes understanding and sensitivity to the different phases of business development – where is the organisation at, where do they want to go, what do they need to help them get there, and how can they add value via technology alignment? Each website design focuses on the specific stakeholder needs of each vertical, business, community, team, and individual users.

Enlighten’s craft is underpinned by very specific and highly developed skill sets.  Their offerings consist of a varied team, with little fear for reaching wide into other pots and partnering with allies of different specialisms. In their deck along with web development, you’ll also find user experience design, visual design, post-launch support, data visualisation, and mobile app development.

Enlighten Designs is leading New Zealand in the future of human-centred web design. If you’re seeking clarity and alignment with your next web development project, Enlighten’s Illuminate Workshop can help you gain valuable insights and deliver a holistic view of your business and the next steps to take. Contact Enlighten Designs to book your session.

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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

Enlighten Designs

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Enlighten Designs creates beautiful, user-friendly digital solutions. As an award-winning creative technical agency, our mission is to deliver digitally transformative experiences for customers ranging from small businesses to enterprise clients. Founded in 1998, Enlighten Designs is based on our passion to bring exceptionally designed, innovative and custom technology solutions from the shores of New Zealand to the world.

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