This weeks lecture/tutorial looked at the importance of user research in designing, highlighted the importance of understanding and the progressive, iterative steps of building empathy with the user through the use of various methods.  Quickly,  it became very clear that affinity diagrams are a useful tool and mechanism to assist a group in a brainstorming activity to collate and organise ideas as well as naturally grouping the information into themes for further analysis.

  1. How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users? As we know, empathy is key to the design process. Respecting the process of constructing the affinity diagram enables the design team to build from the ground-up, from the smaller issues, which in turn, generates insights into the bigger problems. It also became obvious that it also helps to form persona’s for the design requirements, creating a direct relationship between the issues and the potential solution. Likewise, and a note worth mentioning is that one of the instrumental words here is “build”.  Affinity diagrams very much supports the iterative method of problem-solving whereby the evolution of ideas help to ensure the building of momentum  to empathise with a user’s needs and the  implications it may have in the design.
  2. How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?  By working through the process collaboratively, which in it self provides clarity and transparency to the process, the group to see the big picture of what the main issues are. Clustering the information was a pivotal tool in helping the group to work together which assisted on the agreement  of the initial groupings from the very beginning. It also provided an instant layout or sitemap of how the problem can be tackled, identifying personas and how both can be applied in the design together. One clear advantage of affinity diagramming as well, is the ability to move the data with such ease, which intuitively helps the iterative problem solving process and assists in creating themes and/or clear pain points. .
  3. What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time? There were some difficulties in the process. For our group, we needed a large space as well help sticking the notes down with additional tape. Likewise, with that in mind, it made the process somewhat fragile which probably means that it can only be a temporary process which means there is an issue of long-term storage and photos may miss the mark of capturing the organisation and iterative process of it.  Searching was also an issue with the number of notes and people; manually looking for an idea. Personally, I think I could have been more concise in writing the post-it notes whereby some of them do not even make the cut or were irrelevant to what we were trying to achieve from a design thinking point of view. I think by fully understanding the process and with practise, it would be easier to write the notes and therefore assist with the overall organisation of the affinity diagram. With that said, I think that this is fun, collaborative tool that enables the team to work iteratively to create solutions to meet the user’s needs.