DANFOSS

“I am not surprised that the focus on benefits has helped us get it right for all users – including men. I’ve never met a man who said, ‘I don’t like this product because it’s too easy for me to operate.”

— Søren Hesseldahl, Innovation Director, Heating Solutions Division, Danfoss

The Danish company Danfoss is a global leader in indoor-climate solutions. Following our successful collaboration on award-winning product designs, Danfoss and design-people joined forces for a research collaboration about innovation culture and practices. Together we embarked on a 3-year long design research project called Female Interaction (FI). We aimed to explore and address the female target group more effectively by exploring and tapping into female values, preferences, and lifestyle choices when it comes to tech-products.

Indoor climate systems are mainly developed by male engineers. Not a problem as such, but their tech-savy mindset has led to sophisticated products that do not appeal to women. Women remain a significant but often overlooked market group – for tech industry companies. Female users’ approach to technology has been difficult to grasp and respond to – also for Danfoss. During our collaboration on the Female Interaction project, we investigated climate control in private homes from the perspective of female users. And we analysed a top-of-the-line Danfoss product called Danfoss Link, as a case for the project: Reconceptualize the value proposition of ”wireless indoor climate control” to captivate and satisfy female customers?

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The journey began with a holistic user experience analysis, which covered female user experience dimensions within benefits, aesthetics, interaction design & communication. A key finding: to be relevant for prospective female buyers and users, the system also needed to offer air quality control – not just heating. After identifying key innovation potentials, design-people applied a scenario driven design process to create an innovative experience concept called NOI: all wall mouted displays have been removed from the system as women dislike these technical elements in their homes. What’s left is a discreet room sensor indicating air quality and heating schedule status. The more advance scheduling, energy control and remote control functions have been transformed into apps for tablet and smart phone respectively. See the 2 min concept presentation movie to understand how smoothly the new concept integrates into families life.

Business impact Female Interaction research project – it’s research findings, the NOI experience concept and the gender & innvotion guidelines have had a great impact on Danfoss, facilitating a change in their innovation practices. Today, Danfoss Heating employs gender know-how to obtain user insights and test new product concepts – before technical implementation and design. Recent Danfoss heating products focus more on real-life user benefits and situational ease of use, utilizing a female benchmark to develop and promote the products successfully.

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