1. How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?
In this exercise, we learned to make affinity diagrams. Firstly by reading an interview that focuses on travelling, the aspects preferred/hatred by the interviewer are highlighted. Because we had plenty of time, so the interview was read very carefully. During this reading process, it enables me to position myself in the interview’s perspective, as if I could feel the feelings of the interviewer as he talks due to the emotive language and slangs used. After reading for half an hour I wrote many observation on the yellow post-it notes. During this step, comments about the interviewer are re-phrased in the objective view, and I wrote the comments as short as possible, as I want to the comments to be ‘summaries’. By doing so, the re-phrase of sentences helped me with deeper understanding of the interviewer’s needs resonantly: as each of the comment is either positive, negative or neutral, it gave me a better understanding of the specific needs of the interviewer, helping me establish a better empathy with him.
2. How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?
During the later steps where the yellow post-it notes had to be placed in different categories using the blue post-it notes, and then place the similar categorised blue post-it notes in different categories using the pink post-it notes, so on and so on. When categorising the information, it enabled me to consider the potential reason of making that comment. For an example, the interviewer in the interview stated that he would like to know which places he should visit and what activities he should participate because he doesn’t have a choice when he isn’t advised of doing anything. From this statement, I know that a person like him will find his trip boring if he is on a target-less trip, so he must to have a good plan before his travel, and this allowed me to categorise this statement with the ‘Beforehand plan is needed'(his need), which can further be categorised down to ‘Better plan needed'(which is the potential need). In a similar strategy, our group sorted most of the yellow post-it notes down to categories, and the clustering of information allowed me narrow down a broad range of information to only a few categories, based on their potential needs.
3. What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?
It was very challenging for me as it was the first time for me making an affinity diagram like this. Personally, I think the most difficult part of this exercise we keep narrowing down the notes into less categories, as each ‘narrowing’ process was hard already. In order to successfully make an affinity diagram, I think the most important factor is knowing the potential need, from consistent thinking ‘why he/she saying this’. If I will make an affinity diagram next time, the things I will improve are:
1. Write the potential (first-round) comments as much as I can, without thinking any constraints.
2. When narrowing down the first-round comments into the first-round categories, think of why the user says this. Then for narrowing down the first-round categories into second-round categories, think in more detail why the user says the word/phrase summaried in the first-round categories. So on and so on.
3. If facing any difficulties, it is often useful to speak to my peers, as they helped me with making the affinity diagram during the last tutorial: they inspired me with something that I didn’t notice.