Q1. How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?

The exercise of first reading an interview script and then highlighting key points helped gather information and make observations about the user  – some of these observations were unexpected as each user story we read was unique, particularly if I compare my assigned user interview with my own personal travel experiences.

The next step of mapping/clustering the yellow observation notes was quite involved – quickly our group began to realise that each of our users had different motivations and interests when travelling. This helped us to build empathy around different types of travellers and build insight into changeable user perspectives.

The process of labelling the clusters of yellow post-it notes with the blue post-it notes gave our users a “voice”. This allowed us to reference a particular message of the users and empathise with their wants/needs/desires in a broader sense.

I feel that the Affinity Diagram aids in determining a bigger picture of what users want and allows us to break down any preconceptions we may have about a particular user or group of users. I found that I discovered unexpected insights into users but when mapping common themes together, found clearer user voices. The Affinity Diagram enabled us to discover themes that overlap across most users, which in effect highlighted significance themes/voices across a broader range of users – this information is therefore very useful when determining design solutions according to user needs.

Q2. How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?

The clustering of information helped me to reflect on user needs by examining all the different “user interpretation” yellow post-it notes and determining underlying themes. It helped to form a bigger picture for user desires, but also understand that each user has a unique voice. Our group moved post-it notes several times because we felt we found a “better fit” in another cluster. Some of the interpretation yellow post-it notes were also left floating without a cluster – highlighting that each user is unique and sometimes doesn’t fit into a standard theme.

Q3. What was difficult or challenging with the technique?

I felt that we ran out of time and it didn’t help that we all had different interpretations on how to make an affinity diagram. I think that one key element that makes this technique difficult is how the designer interprets the user insights. In our group we each had interpreted our user needs differently – this meant that when we came to place the yellow post-its on the wall some were vague or ambiguous and they sort of fell outside the scope of the central themes we were developing. I don’t necessarily think this is incorrect as it challenges the central themes and encourages discussion – it just made it more difficult to cluster everything as we had anomalies.