Coming from a communications background, I was always taught in the field that the key to winning the hearts and minds of your audience boils down to two pivotal, high-level aspects in the delivery of your messaging. They are: 1) Emotive and 2) Clarity/Transparency.

In order for you audience to be able to connect with what you are trying to create/sell, they must first see value in for themselves and secondly, it must be simple and clear so it “just makes sense.” From our 4th tutorial, this hands-on experience  felt familiar but provided more depth and a broader understanding of these two aspects in the early stages of the design. It was about understanding and seeing it purely from the user’s eyes and never making assumptions, in order for you to create items that the user sees benefit in.

Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise

a). Reflective listening. 

This should be easy, right?! Talk to someone about an interesting, personal topic, then listen and reflect, clarify on what they are saying….nope. Not so easy after all. I found throughout the process, it was extremely difficult not to ask questions repeatedly and not engage in a full conversation.

This is clearly an acquired skill, one that takes time, repetition and a level of patience to do it well. If you can do it well, the benefits are clear. It enables you to understand the person you are listening to whilst at the same time through clarifying the process, it assists them in simplifying their thoughts and how they are communicating it. Plus, in all of these cases, it provides the individual with a platform for their views to be expressed. Everyone likes to be heard. It is an empowering process and from the outset, allows them to be a part of the design process from the beginning.

Moving forward, there are a few things that I would like to personally work on in order to develop this skill for further use.

  1. Talk less, listen more. Harder than you think when engaging with another person. Our instinct is to respond and fill in the gaps.
  2. Silence is ok as it can be important to the thought process for both parties. As awkward as it may be, it is important. As the listener, by speaking, you can cut off important thoughts and impose a certain bias on what they are about to say.
  3. Relate  to the speaker, pick up on the personal aspects that could provide that emotive input. I think this crucial in making an emotive connection to someone else, this is where you reach a real understanding of them.

b). Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

“Defamiliarization then is a literary technique and can be used as a method which calls into question our usual interpretations of everyday objects. In HCI, one example of defamiliarization is the user of extreme characters (Djajadiningrat et al. 2000) or designing applications for the viewpoint of a particular, idiosyncratic, and unusual user…the are argue that such design strategies uncover and alter underlying assumptions about users built in applications, suggesting new options for design that may be useful or interesting even for normal users. (p. 154)”  – Djajadiningrat et al. 2000 cited in Bardzell, J. and Bardzell, S. (2015). Humanistic HCI. San Rafael, California: Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

The daily grind of using public transport in a large city, affects us all. It is something we just get on with as it a part of our everyday reality – it can be long, frustrating and tedious. As a result, you just try to shut off either with a book, music or you phone. However, in our tutorial, that view for me changed.

By watching the videos and having to reflect upon it, helped me to see this everyday activity, differently. It made you step back, take in and feel the sights and sounds of what was happening on the platform and in the bus. Sometimes, you could feel every bump, the frustration building in your stomach when someone coughed or stood too close to you. It helped you, as the designer to take something you may or may not take for granted and turn it into something different.

Reflections in all instances of understanding the users view point is just as important in the process. It helps to formulate your thoughts and how best to document it. The creative process, which although at times may seem ad hoc, following its process is of equal importance.

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Challenging the status quo in our perceptions is what a designer should do. If we are able to see it a little differently, reflect upon this, we could perhaps use the mundane and create something extraordinary by simply looking at it a contrasting way.

c). Empathic modelling

To really understand the user, we have to understand their frustrations and their feelings in everyday situation.

This techniques helps you, as a designer, to stimulate an impaired users’ world. In this case, the class, by adding a small piece of cling wrap, we were able to tap into a visually-impaired viewpoint for a short time to have (somewhat) of a  personal understanding of what they possibly see and their subsequent feelings. This ultimately helped to create a further awareness of some of the issues they face and their solutions to having blurred vision.. I think that the difference here though and we must keep in mind, that this was only temporary and even still, it can be quite different from those living with it all the time.

The first task, I believe also ties into defamiliarisation of our everyday items. By creating our own empathy through this technique  of simple objects, that we perhaps take for granted, became modified. The clarity of the object becomes less, from its shape to colour has been altered. Even things that may be of little importance to us in terms of branding or other identifiable objects are blurred. As designer not only does it help to gain a further understanding but it helps to build the foundations of a possible solution

The best part of this exercise was walking down the hall way to with blurred vision. It was amazing to see how my behavior changed whilst walking. I found that I was extremely reliant on the sound of fellow students and  how much more I was aware of the reliance I had on the “blurred” people in front of me. I also used the light as my guide as well as touch to assist in moving forward. This certainly took me outside of my comfort zone, increased my awareness of the issues but also of the possibility of designing effective design outcomes.

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