Melbourne technology company Conduct uses Human Centered Design to improve lives

Conduct, an award-winning technology company, is making a name for itself with its focus on Human Centred Design. The Melbourne-based company is committed to design and service innovation and strives to create solutions that ultimately improve people’s lives.

The early days

Charlie Pohl and Simon Krambousanos first started making plans to set up a business together while still at university in Tasmania. Recognising the need to grow their skills and experience after graduation, they both travelled and worked before establishing the Conduct business in Melbourne.

Their combined experiences led them to identify an opportunity in the market to provide smarter and leaner user-centred professional services while still maintaining a high quality output.

Simon and Charlie founded Conduct in 2008. When the iPhone 3G was launched in Australia that year, they worked on one of the first augmented reality apps in Australia which was featured by Apple.

“The iPhone introduced the app store to Australia and provided opportunities to enhance customer experiences. We saw that the iPhone was an enabler of experiences that we had always wanted to achieve for customers – this validated our human-centred design approach in Melbourne, which accelerated the growth of our business,” says Charlie.

Nine years down the line, this focus seems to have paid off, as Conduct goes from strength to strength. The company has remained firmly focused on customer experience, and some of those to benefit from their projects include anxious children, disabled voters and victims of domestic violence.

The company has developed a unique approach which it applies to all of its projects. Conduct’s Rapid Design and Validation framework is a process which allows businesses to iteratively solve problems and prototype ideas, and which promises to move from problem to proposition within six weeks.

The success of this approach is evidenced by the awards the company has won for several of its projects.

Reducing anxiety in children

Conduct developed the mobile and tablet app Okee in collaboration with the Royal Children’s Hospital. The app addresses the issue of the anxiety experienced by children who require medical imaging procedures. Okee provides users with access to games with embedded practical information. The games include activities, such as breath-holding and keeping still, which assist in managing children’s anxiety ahead of these procedures.

“The biggest challenge was that no-one had ever done this before,” Charlie explains. “There was nothing out there that could help educate kids about procedures. It was a matter of turning complex operations into something fun and entertaining.”

Since its introduction into the RCH, a research project has been undertaken to assess the impact of the Okee app after its launch. The results showed a six-minute reduction in preparation time per patient, a 40 per cent decrease in patient compliance difficulties and a 45 per cent reduction in patient anxiety. Okee has won a host of awards including the National and Victorian iAwards for Health in 2015.

Helping voters communicate

Another notable project saw Conduct commissioned by the Victorian Electoral Commission in partnership with Scope. They engaged Conduct to tackle the issue of voters with communication difficulties navigating an electoral process.

“They were finding that people with communication difficulties were experiencing anxiety and would often end up not voting,” Charlie says. “We needed to design a solution that would help educate them on the voting process, but then also help them while they were at the voting centre to communicate their needs.”

The solution was Voters Voice, a native iPad app believed to be the first of its type globally. The app provides voters with information about voting, as well as a communication board which can be used as part of the process. Through built-in analytics, Voters Voice also allows the VEC to customise content for future elections. So far, this has saved the VEC an estimated A$1 million in printing and training costs.

Innovation-friendly culture

One of Conduct’s most recent projects resulted directly from Victoria’s innovation-friendly culture. The Victorian Public Sector Innovation Fund (DPC) made it possible for Safe Steps—a family violence response centre—to engage Conduct to design a system which improves access to crisis accommodation for victims of family violence.

This is one of the many projects which have helped Conduct to thrive in Victoria. Despite having their sights set on expansion into other markets, they will remain based here. One of the factors in the company’s success over the past nine years has been their ready access to local support and strategic guidance.

“I’ve had a collection of mentors that I meet with every month,” Charlie says. “These are people that I’ve met in the industry in Victoria.”

In particular, Charlie has found networking events hosted by the State Government invaluable.

“That is one of the hardest things that you experience in business anywhere—meeting people and building relationships,” he explains. “The Victorian Government facilitates that. I feel that there is proactive stimulus for industry here.”