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

By highlighting the motivations, interests, needs and frustrations of the interviewees, one was able to gain a clearer view of the customer, as the distractions of their random banter were filtered out in this first step. This enabled empathy to be built with how the interviewees felt on their holidays, and what was, and what wasn’t important to them.

In addition to this, finding similarities with other group mates and placing them in a logical hierarchy in the affinity diagram helped to reinforce the themes the interviewees were concerned with, and further enabled us to get a feel for their experiences, desires and points of view whilst on holiday.

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

The clustering process helped because it forced us to 1) identify what was common amongst all interviewees (which helped identify clusters) but also 2) limit the number of yellow notes per category which forced us to break clusters up into more granular classifications.

Additionally, I found not labelling clusters initially encouraged creativity, and resulted in more clusters being formed, rather than trying to fit yellow notes into predefined categories.

Using this logical hierarchal process enabled individual user needs to be classified into more general overarching user stories (blue then pink notes), and gain an actual picture of who the customers were and what their needs looked like.

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

Collaborating with 5 people was a bit of a challenge with the logistics of sticking post-it-notes onto the wall. We agreed that using coloured paper on a desk might be easier next time because we found that the group separated into two (for logistical reasons) – however this resulted in us having to combine the two groups’ work (e.g. some categories were defined twice), the problem with sticky notes is they’d lose their stick after being transferred. Next time a digital solution (or paper on a desk) would rectify these issues.

Additionally, before the blue note step, keeping track of if a category already existed on the wall was a challenge, because you had to go around reading the yellow notes, and sometimes they weren’t in the correct spot, and perhaps someone else was in the process of moving those notes to a different section. Communication was key. Overall, a logical structure organically came together as time went on, it was just a little chaotic at the start.


Next time, given more time, the diagram would have been cleaned into columns, however I found that during the early stages of forming the affinity diagram, the scattered approach helped aid experimentation/exploration of category ideas (similar to my previous observation of the advantage of not initially having pre-defined blue notes restricting your categorisation process). Thanks to the rest of the group, after some discussion about what was missing and some reflection on what we’d done, we were very satisfied with the outcome.