IDEO transforms lives through design

Posted on Mar 24, 2014 in Discover | One Comment
IDEO transforms lives through design

The dictionary defines design as “a decorative pattern” or a “plan of something before it is made”. If design today means so much more, it is because of top design firms such as IDEO, which have pushed design into the realm of transformative experiences.

Image: swipe sense

: SwipeSense reduces hospital acquired infections by helping health care workers keep track of how often they sanitise their hands

SwipeSense reduces hospital acquired infections by helping health care workers keep track of how often they sanitise their hands

[Photo credit:]

IDEO began operations in 1991 and has designed products, branding, services, digital experiences, and spaces. One of its earliest design breakthroughs was Apple’s first mouse.

Image: apple mouse

apple mouse

Apple’s first mouse, designed in 1980

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Range of designs

IDEO has contributed design innovations to many sectors: technology, health care, education, financial services, social welfare, to name just a few.

Take a look at the range of IDEO’s oeuvre in this slideshow – apps, interfaces, glucometers, dashboards, fuel pumps, as well as more conventional package designs, that are anything but conventional!


  • product design 1
  • product design 2
  • product design 3
  • product design 4 usb glucometer
  • product design 5 digital dashboard
  • product design 5 fuel dispensers
  • product design 6 salad
  • product design 7 tap system

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Designing a difference

IDEO swears by human design – creating all its design around human needs, experiences and convenience. The company believes in Design Thinking, a process that founder David Kelley claims enables it to “innovate routinely”.

Here’s an interesting, slightly longish video that features Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, talking about Design Thinking.

IDEO folks are, quite famously drawn from all walks of life. It is not uncommon to see an anthropologist debate a software engineer on a point of creativity – but when it comes delivering, this motley crew has an impressive track record.

Image: ideo at work

ideo at work

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Designing innovations

IDEO’s design innovations stem from the need to improve human experience. For First Source Bank, the team’s research revealed that customers found traditional banking formats – the use of a teller, conversations over a counter and other such standard customer interactions strained, formal and unfriendly.

So IDEO did something completely radical but utterly simple – it replaced the traditional face to face interaction between bank employee and customer, with a side by side arrangement. This led to friendly, more conversational meetings on an equal footing between both parties. And there was a tangible benefit too – a 60% spike in loan sales.

Image: First Source


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Creativity in the digital space is a no-brainer for a design firm that prides itself on pushing boundaries. When ebay, for example, wanted to really get to know its customers, IDEO stepped in with an app that identified key customer types and put a face and personality to each of the 128 million ebay loyalists. This newfound understanding also ushered in change: ebay revamped its website based on customer feedback.

[Image: ebay]


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To read more about these and many other IDEO innovations, do check out their detailed case studies at

Not surprisingly, the list of accolades that IDEO has earned, is impressive. IDEO emerged as one of the most innovative companies in a survey of business leaders by Boston Consulting Group. It has been ranked at No.10 in Fast Company’s list of 25 most innovative companies, and No.16 on Fortune’s list of MBA students’ most favored employers.

Which of IDEO’s design innovations interest you most? Share your thoughts in comments.

1 Comment

  1. theWTFactory 7 design principles of highly effective designers » theWTFactory
    March 31, 2014

    […] Read more about Tim Brown and IDEO’s philosophy of design thinking, here. […]


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