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

Reading interview data helped to build empathy with prospective users retrospectively, as we were not present at the interview and unable to gauge reactions, facial expressions or other gestures. It was still effective in helping me build empathy as the user is highly descriptive and still verbally emotive.

Through reading the interview (interview 3) I felt a lot of the users frustrations, annoyances and general grievances, alongside values. Frustrations at lack of information accessible to him when on the road or travelling, such as site locations, amenities/shops/restaurants nearby were intensified when travelling with his family or wife, but subsided when travelling alone or for work. Values such as his family and friends were effectively conveyed through this interview.

Sub-textually, his conversational tone/level of excitement seemed low. He was either highly aware that the interview was about travel and logistics of getting around, thus potentially biasing the data (he also made recommendations around feedback and where things could be better without being prompted, which is relatively suspicious), or he very aware of how boring his life has become now that he has kids.

Across all the interviews, the exercise (creating Affinity Notes) helped build empathy around the current pain points of travel for different users, as you were forced to hone in and highlight any statements of user interests, needs, motivations, frustrations.

The concept map was a great way to get an overall picture of the person, their behaviour, needs and desires.

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

The clustering of information across all users helped us conglomerate and synthesise the information. Thinking hard about each Affinity note and link them together helps a researcher, designer or even product manager visualise the information they have been given and break it down by to establish a problem statement/user desire/user need.

In clustering the information from multiple users, you are able to distinguish where the biggest pain points are and what the biggest user needs are.

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

It is a bit difficult to execute ~successfully within a small timeframe. I suspect that this sort of activity is done over a day or two to ensure that all points within the interviews are covered. One of the biggest challenges I found was trying to decipher other peoples affinity cards. Another challenge was trying to cluster cards that didn’t distinctly have a place, because we didn’t have enough time to extrapolate all the information in each interview.

Each individual person also had a different understanding of what we were doing and how to cluster the information with a different level of understanding, which was interesting. We also didn’t have all the interviews covered in our group and had some double ups, which was a bit disappointing.

Next time, I would be sure to pick out all information, rather than just the information I thought might be key to the interview, as I now realise it is all relevant!