The Human Focused Digital Book

Digital technology. It has crept into our lives, and so deeply has it penetrated us, that it has completely redesigned it. In the deep oceans and the high skies, it is now as elemental in our landscape as the wind and falling rain. It’s not going to stop.

Due to the way civilisations progress, we are about to zip-line and observe more change in the next ten years, than of the last hundred. But how do we prevent this acceleration from eroding away our humanity?

We've spent an awfully long time mapping the user journey, or plotting the customer journey, when in reality, everyone is on a journey we know nothing about.

Incorporating the psychological and philosophical fields into the design process, Pete Trainor brings our focus back to the fundamental questions that drive us, and through a journey of design thinking, he asks one simple question, the one we have always asked through all times... Why?

What to expect

What to expect

When you step back and assess the way we design things, you realise that we don't create, we discover. Mostly we discover what is already there, by aligning ourselves to a position so that creations emerge. Aligning in order to bring things into material form – to bring them into manifestation. This is a book about re-aligning design thinking to the thing that joins us all together - Humanity.

The Past.
A quiet revolution upended our concept of the way patterns work within our lives, societies, and organisations. From bricks and mortar tech, through to analog, digital and into the beyond: we are about to observe more change in the next ten years, than of the last hundred.
Being Human.
As technology becomes increasingly immaterial, ask this: does the technology we’ve created add more layers of confusion? When we strip away all the technology, what are we left with? The same thing we started with — people.
The Future.
It will be people, not technology, that create a future for us that is advanced in capability, and so desirable in its function that we’ll look back at the last twenty years nostalgically and, reflect in a bittersweet fashion recognising only our own naivety.

From the pages

Hippo spans 13 chapters (with two new ones coming in 2017). Helping you to weave philosophical observations into your design thinking. Below are some sample chapters.


The Accidental Polymath

Hello there. It’s Pete. If you’re reading this on a screen, welcome to the digital era. If you’re holding paper in your hands, I salute you. Very retro. Whatever your chosen platform is, it’s okay. Everything is always okay — as you will soon see. This book is going to twist and turn and you’ll need to use a lot of your senses to process things and understand what I’m saying and this is a good thing — to be tested. I want you to feel the polymath in you and embrace it... Click here to read the full chapter.

Being Human

What Makes Us Tick?

A more human focused approach to designing products and solutions would drastically change how we think about people and the lives we all live. It helps us to realise that people do not behave as we think they do. Even under the microscope of qualitative and quantitative, field and desk research, the results are often an observation of the person’s mind-set at a ‘moment’ in time... Click here to read the full chapter.

Taoism 2017

New Approaches

Have you ever started a financial plan? If you’re anything like I was, we’ve all started financial plans, ‘started’ being the operative word. It goes like this: you’ve set out with the best intentions but failed to keep the momentum going. That’s basically it. You’ve stagnated, wallowed and then… started up again. Relying on motivation and willpower doesn’t work and I know that’s not something to preach — I’m coming up against a self help industry that banks billions, but I’m not selling an ideology, I’m facing the reality of the situation, and it wasn’t always a habit of mine... Click here to read the full chapter.

The Future

The Cave

Behaviour is the range of actions and mannerisms made by people in conjunction with themselves or their environment, which includes the other people around as well as the (inanimate) physical environment. It is the response of a person to various stimuli or inputs, whether internal or external, conscious or unconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary. From a human focused perspective, behaviour consists of four key elements: a person, operations (actions, activities) and interactions (relationships), and their properties... Click here to read the full chapter.

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Early Reactions

We're really grateful to the people who took the time to read and feedback on the book. You all rock.

Alberta Soranzo, Service Design Director, Lloyds Bank

Trainor's book should be required reading for all of us who work in digital. In a world where it's so easy to focus on the shiny things we build rather than the needs of the humans using them, and the outcomes we should be supporting, Hippo is a powerful reminder of the course we should be following. The practical examples presented bring to life thoughtful reflections on the philosophy of design and the neurological principles that influence human psychology and our mental models — which sounds really complex, but is instead rendered accessible by Trainor's friendly tone and clarity of thinking. Hippo contains a powerful message about us and our future — in the words of Thomas Watson, machines and technology aren't fitting substitutes for a lacking humanity, but should be (and will only be sustainable) if they are tools for extending the power of the humans that use them. It is only by asking different sets of questions and looking at digital tools as enablers of human outcomes rather than solutions to problems that often are of our creations that we'll be able to create a better world for everybody.

Helen Sewell, Communication Specialist, ‎Simply Speaking

I picked up this book thinking it really wouldn’t be for me. I mean why would a self-confessed technosceptic bother reading a book ostensibly written for digital designers? But its human element called to me, and I was immediately hooked by Pete Trainor’s obvious passion: designing better things is a much healthier concept than designing things better. This is a call to action to all digital designers to think about people rather than things. Thank goodness there is at least one person out there who believes that designing for normal human beings is a great idea. And is willing to put his head above the parapet and say so.

Kerry Hipkiss, VP Business Strategy, iProspect

This book inspired me to think differently, ask questions I’ve never thought of and connect concepts in ways I don’t normally. For those of you not lucky enough to have spent time with Pete; to have someone inspire and empower you to see life through a different lens as Pete does, his book 'Hippo' is the next best thing. This book is the start of the voyage to ask more questions about the world you live in and how we can make a difference in a world of digital cultural homogenisation. Frankly the world needs more polymaths, here’s a handbook for that.

Katherine Benjamin, Digital Services Manager, NHS England

This book moves seamlessly between philosophy, scientific rigour, and the practical application of human centred design for business. A highly engaging book for anyone seeking to make digital products that resonate with their customer.

Ghela Boskovich

Hippo is simply one of the most human, relatable books on the ethos of designing for people I've read. It is a conversation, not a lecture, about what makes for thoughtful user-oriented design. Hippo, and Pete Trainor the author, are accessible as teachers; the crux of this book is a morality tale on how to approach thinking about designing for purpose: because as we think, we do.

About the author

A book like this takes more than just one person with a passion for a topic. So many people made it possible. From my editor Luke Shipman, to the talented cover-art of Jamie Twyman and all the amazing designers who gave me guidance and counsel during it's creation. This is a book for people, by people.
Pete Trainor

Pete Trainor is a behavioural designer, public speaker, author, accidental polymath and founder of Us Ai in London. He talks all over the world on creative & social technologies & the physiological & psychological effects on their audiences. Pete regularly appears in UK national and international press as an analyst on digital media, creative industries, emergent technologies, and tech markets. He sits on the executive council, and chairs the Ai and Data Think Tank for BIMA.

A vocal mental health campaigner and champion for better use of technology to help men, women, children and teens in moments of crisis. Pete has a very simple mantra: “Don't do things better, do better things".

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