1) How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?
It allowed me to follow along their journey of traveling and to “walk in their shoes”. It gave me a look at situations that I have never experienced (e.g. overseas car rental, planning for my honeymoon), and allowed me to see the decision-making process associated with it.
Reading the entire thing and then picking out needs/motivations/frustrations/interests also allowed me to see the user as a person, with preferences and quirks.


2) How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?
The Affinity Diagram is such a useful way to analyze user data. It’s great to see the little picture, the specific details from each individual, as well as the big picture, the overarching root of their want/need/obstacle.
It also helps us to see laterally, to compare different interview subjects and see what commonalities were essential.


3) What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?
It was difficult thinking of the best Blue Post-It, i.e. the best category expressing user needs, while also having design relevance. Walking around the room, I remembered two groups that had really impressive Blue Post-Its that made a lot of sense and immediately put me in a frame of mind where I could see more clearly what the user wanted and needed.
It can also be tricky to have a free-flowing approach to the whole exercise. I think we can be very accustomed to fixing things in neat categories, i.e. have the tendency to want to start by showing everyone “here were the NEEDS, FRUSTRATIONS, INTERESTS, and MOTIVATIONS from my reading”.

To do it better next time, I would practice beforehand how to read an interview transcript and understand the essence of what the user was saying. I would also write more precisely, instead of writing stuff like “Being lost” (for the user’s frustration). Instead I would write: “It is stressful to lose my way, especially when I’m misdirected by Google Maps!”