1.How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?

The aim of this exercise is to learn about interpreting data, that is , to help a designer capture and understand users behavior and demand, thus dig out the valuable goal of a design project.First, I read a long interview record between a prospective user and a interviewer.  The user is actually describing some real situations in his life. During the reading, I put myself in the position of the user, so that I could carefully refined his interests, habits and emotion from his words.

I was quite shocked when we 5 people put our notes together, facing with countless problems on these papers. I think learning what problems a real person is dealing with, what situation he could be in, and capturing his emotions and thoughts will help me to build empathy with him——a prospective user.

2.How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?

We first wrote each of the points of users’ concerns, habits, interests or frustrations on a post-it.  Then we 5 people worked as a group to figure out which of these points are related or reflect the same thing. After that, we were able to go to a higher level, coming up with the true needs of users, behind their words.

Users never think about what they are thinking. They can never tell us their needs because even themselves don’t know what they turely need. However, users do give us “clues” indirectly through an interviews or a survey. The clustering of information was like spelling the broken pieces of a map. Each single information doesn’t give us a clear direction, but when we had several post-it related with each other, it became much easier to catch the original need of users.


3.What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?

One difficulty is grouping the notes. Some points seems to be related but actually they are talking about 2 different things. The work was hard at the beginning. We moved the post-it again and again for a long time until we saw that they are walking into several groups.

Also, we often will have a “first impression” of a note, that we tell our selves in mind that this one belongs to problem A and that one is for problem B. However we can not come to the conclusion before doing the data interpreting, we need to forget about whatever we suppose the user need could be or might be, and try to find out them only with the notes. These “guesses” about user demand led us to a wrong direction and took us some time to fix them. Next time I will keep a “clean mind” when doing it.