Extreme User – The Trekkie
Edwina is a 28 year old woman, living in Silicon Valley. She is very interested in sci-fi movies and all things robotic. She is a talented programmers with a keen interest in exploring new technologies. Another one of her hobbies is learning all about space and definitely believes that “there is something out there”. 

I work in in IT. A highly structured environment, organised line by line where process is tightly coupled with outcomes. On the flip side of that,  the presumption is that creativity is ad hoc, chaotic and only comes in inspirational waves – if you’re lucky. Thus far, throughout this course, it has become clear that creative work, in all of it’s form, is very much a process; one that must be trusted and followed to enable you to form ideas, options and in the long run, the best user-centric solution.

1. How did taking the position of an Extreme User influence your thinking in relation to the design challenge? Was it different to how you usually generate ideas and empathy?

Through our Extreme User, Edwina, she gave us a medium to tell our conceptual narrative – a way to convey our ideas. The user of extreme users is a way to open your mind into a way of thinking that enables to you to design for any solution. It helped to expose myself and perhaps the team, to the possibilities in the challenge and how far we could take it with our user audience in mind. This included factors that would have never been considered previously.  The idea that if you can design for the “Extreme User” in terms of their excessive needs, then you should be able to design for all. With that said, I think that it is still equally important to  map out the average user’s needs as well for the sake of a control and getting breadth with the problem at hand. However, that ability to push the idea further (to the extreme) will again assist in the making sure that you will cover all your bases.

With the risk of sounding vague, it was similar but different in previous ways of generating ideas. Similar techniques were used, however the difference this time was that ability to take to another level within the process. Typically, I have always played safe and to focused on the needs of the majority. Even in my line of work in IT, it seems always to be the logical approach. However, it is always those unusual cases that can cause the most havoc later on and I now come to the conclusion that this could have been a direct result of not considering the needs of the extreme user. This way, this technique will expose those needed insights, work arounds and perhaps a fresh perspective in the initial designs.

2. Did any of the other design thinking techniques (design provocation cards, stories, storyboards, etc.) help you to work through ideas and collaborate with your group members?


Storyboarding. Ironically, this was the technique that assisted me in thinking more laterally. I say ironically, because it was actually more difficult to think that way with a technique, that in one way or another,  that displays linearly.

Let me explain.

Storyboarding is a useful, visual tool to focus your thoughts and a way to present your the initial phases of ideation/concepts to your audience.

After using the post-it notes to let our group “flow” with ideas for the design challenge of the use of pay phones in 30 years. Ideas came and went in terms of what we we thought the pay phone of yesterday would turn in to – technology in our skin, chips behind the ear, holograms, physical places where people could use it, blue light, popping up in front our eyes, not just a phone but a link to all things a mobile phone offered, voice activated, etc. The list went on and on. This flow of ideas helped the creative process. It gave Edwina wings.

We were then asked to storyboard our findings inclusive of our extreme user. This technique was very useful purely in helping to organise the different pieces of the puzzle. By using a maximum of 6/7 linked it sketches, it cut a lot of the clutter from my thought process. It “edited” our flow of ideas helping us to compact to the “Tele-Stop” loosely based on  the game Pokemon-Go.  The story could then evolve.

Storyboarding helped our group and me, as an individual to:

  • highlight the relevant parts meaning what part of the story would be most useful in conveying it to your audience.
  • Focus those pertinent points. The audience does not need to know every little step.
  • Minimal use of text was needed but I believe it should only be used subtly to make a point.
  • as the designer to see if the concept or idea might even be feasible. My thinking was that if I cannot convey or sketch the idea to an audience, then perhaps it is the wrong idea.
  • create a bit of fun and care into the challenge. I believe to “sell” any concept, you must be have a certain level of belief and care which must be shown through ideation and the creation stages.
  • Likewise, it was an open, creative way for us to work with our fellow team members to try and produce a great outcome.

Again, one thing was clear, was to trust and follow the process. It will lead you to a better design solution.