Metaxu’s Approach to Human-Centered Design and “Design Thinking”

 Illustration of two hands framing a dot-to-dot diagram

We’re a design consultancy focused on people.

At Metaxu, we integrate qualitative user research, whether observation, interviews, or participatory workshops, into our design process. Our deep belief is that cognitive empathy—the understanding of others’ mental models and motivations—is the foundation of great design and innovation.

We also rely on “design thinking,” a problem-solving framework (mindset, perhaps) that involves understanding the landscape, prototyping designs, and continuing to iterate until a solution works.

So what does all of this look like in practice?

We've developed a four-step framework that supports our focus on people—both our client teams and the people they serve. While we craft specific activities to meet the needs of your team and unique context, our projects generally flow through four meaningful stages:

Stage 1: Intend

Our first step is empathizing with you. We interview team members and other stakeholders to understand your project goals, challenges, and context. We set intentions for the engagement, ensuring we craft activities to meet your team’s collective needs.

Mantra: Frame the challenge and set intentions.

Stage 2: Explore

Through ethnography, contextual inquiry, usability testing or other methods, we study behavior to understand not just what customers want, but what is meaningful to them. We infuse findings with appropriate secondary research.

Mantra: Discover their reality; uncover the connections.

Stage 3: Translate

We translate research findings into deliverables that suit your context. If your organization is more traditional, we create documentation that you can share across teams and over time. If you’re a lean startup or organization on a budget, we communicate findings and ideas through sketching workshops and other “lean” formats. We reframe the original issue through the lens of the human experience and, where appropriate, through applied learning theory. We build in collaborative steps, such as opportunity or ideation workshops, to ensure your team absorbs insights and is equipped to act.

Mantra: Reframe the issue; absorb and integrate.

Stage 4: Transform

Pivoting from research to design, we transform opportunities into concepts, prototypes, and strategic direction. Balancing the current constraints with blue-sky thinking, we envision, map, and create with your team. We test out prototypes to create meaningful solutions for those you serve.

Mantra: Envision the possibilities; map the way there.

Explore possibilities with us.

Our focus on people means that we make it a priority to empathize with our clients and their specific project needs. If you’d like to explore the possibility of working together to craft stellar products for learners and educators, send us a message. We’d love to hear from you.


Illustration credit: @metaxuux, composed with a photo from Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images.

Marcy Van Horn