IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Week 8 Reflection

Paul Murty’s discussion of the qualities of expertise providing insights into what I’ve often found impressive in those I have observed to be experts. I’m often more impressed by their ability to call on a many different kinds of knowledge and means of thinking and use them in harmony to achieve a goal, rather than just a deep knowledge of a particular field. Murty’s explanation of Chunking provides some insight into how this process works and he also asserts that expertise is about knowledge being adaptable to different problems rather than just knowledge itself. This kind of thinking seems essential to design which requires constant learning based on new problems and drawing on many different skills and types of knowledge. The better one can structure their learning and knowledge the better they can adapt it to a problem.

I looked into Britton A. McKay’s Using Expert Knowledge Structures to Design Decision Aids for further insight. He also supports the importance of knowledge structures: “Experts not only have more knowledge than novices, but they also have more organized knowledge”. He also argues that emulating the knowledge structure of an expert could make training of novices more efficient (Mckay p.9 2007).



McKay, Britton A. Using Expert Knowledge Structures to Design Decision Aids ProQuest 2007

Week 7 Reflection

1. For the user observation with think-aloud, comment on how you experienced the technique (as either user, observer or other). What kinds of information and insights did it give you about the usability of the prototype? What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?


I was away for this exercise but I did conduct a think-aloud user test for the Design Thinking Part 2 Assessment. This provided valuable insight, with certain users explaining their difficulties with certain aspects of the design which could only have been observed if they stated their thoughts out loud, particularly their frustrations with the taking down details that the prototype provided for them. It highlighted and issue with our design which we had to improve.

Certain users didn’t say enough and had to be reminded to think-aloud, overall though it seems like an easy way to get more information out of user testing and it is easy to experiment with having a “silent” user test and think-aloud user test with multiple users and comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each.


2. For the heuristic evaluation, what kinds of information or insights did you gain about the usability of the prototype? What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?

Heuristic evaluation was very suited to our design. The heuristics made sure our design followed basic user needs. In the description for each block we made sure the options were described in terms that were familiar to the user rather than system-oriented data. Error prevention was became a consideration with the possibility of users placing blocks to enter their data in the wrong way.

Heuristic evaluation is something that is very is to undertake to test a design in its early stages, a limitation is the limited perspective of the process.

Week 6 Reflection

The lecture on design principles made me think of my experiences working in retail and the issues with user interfaces. I have witnessed countless customers struggle with eftpos devices. Some of the issues seem related to organization, with users struggling to find the right button to press while others relate to affordances, with users making the wrong assumption about what button they need to press. There is also feedback, often after a user pushes a button they are unable to distinguish the sound for a mistake from the sound for a correct entry and they will continue to enter information at the wrong time. Another feedback issue is response times, the loading between screens throws off customers and they begin to enter their information before the screen is ready.

I think Gestalt principles could also be applied to eftpos devices for a better screen layout. Buttons with different functions are too uniform and need to be grouped separately and with a different appearances. Perhaps a structure like the example with the coffee machine in the lecture could be beneficial, with buttons arranged in a way that mirrors the steps of the entry process.

In The Essential Guide to User Interface Design Galitz enforces the need for systems to respond in time with the user: “System responsiveness should match the speed and flow of human thought processes” also advising that “constant delays are preferable to variable delays” which highlights the timing issue of the eftpos device, the loading between screens varied, sometimes they were instantly responsive and other times they stopped to load. Customers who expected a quick transition pressed buttons before they realised the system was loading. Perhaps a forced delay would create a more consistent and less error-prone means of use from the customer.

The eftpos device also fails in “Visibility of system status” under Jakob Neilsen’s Usabilty Heuristics, with text and instructions far too small to read for many users with poor eyesight who sometimes try to guess what information they need to enter.



Galitz, Wilbert O. The Essential Guide to User Interface Design: An Introduction to GUI Design Principles and Techniques John Wiley & Sons 2007

Week 5 Reflection

1. How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?

For the Airplane seating problem bodystorming was helpful for getting a sense of scale and considering the posture of the user. For the doctor’s waiting room problem I felt that even though we bodystormed this problem in more detail it failed to bring about insights for us. It was interesting to see the different approaches between the two problems, where the seating relied more on posing and space the waiting room relied more on acting. Perhaps having to act inhibited thinking about the solution and led to typical behaviour in the scenario.

2. Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through bodystorming? In what way?

Most of our refinement happened after we bodystormed and started discussing the idea and sketching, for the airplane problem bodystorming was used more as a way of quickly visualising and testing our ideas in real space but it didn’t influence the direction of the idea.

3. What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

Making the most of limited resources and having to rely on our imagination. Having to balance acting and thinking about the problem and trying to think spontaneously and adapt to the scenario. I think there are certain people who would be better suited to certain kinds of bodystorming. The observer is important in these scenarios, to pick up details which those involved in the process may be too occupied to observe.

4.  Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

There are areas where I can see bodystorming as being a very useful approach, ones which involve physical space, movement and gestures.

Week 4 Reflection

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?

Developing a user profile was a useful exercise in unexpected ways, for me it was very different to the way I usually start to develop a solution. After I had created my user profile I found this inspired quite a few potential ideas for the modern telephone booth, however when it came to creating scenarios involving my user and solution it started to reveal many problems, I struggled to think of a plausible scenario in which my design felt like a natural solution for the user. I was surprised by just how quickly this process revealed flaws in my designs, as they had to work in the different contexts of the user scenario and I had to take in a variety of different considerations of the user and their various needs.

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?

I think the narrative approach could have led to some interesting insights but I didn’t have enough time to flesh out the story, I wanted to take a stream-of-consciousness approach from the user’s perspective as I think this could have generated more user needs that could inform the design solution.

Sketching my final scenario as a storyboard made me think about the sense of scale and the physical form my solutions would take. I found the space of the phone booth started to feel too big and also decided to incorporate curves into the form based on the position of the user and the phone and other elements of the design.

Week 2 Reflection

I looked into User Profiles as I find I can lack grounding when developing them for my design solutions. In Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research Mike Kuniavsky asserts that the user profile is not developed from the view of one person but rather from a mix of perspectives which are taken from various stakeholders in a design project. This seems fitting with the development of a persona as a composite of people rather than a single person. Although access to relevant stakeholders may be limited for student projects a broader approach can be taken to coming up with a persona, such as conducting interviews with fellow students structured around information that would bring out their idea of your persona, either through asking directly or trying to bring out information which may describe a trait of a persona. Kuniavsky recommends asking within your company “Someone in your company has an idea of who your target audience is”.

It is tempting think you know who you’re marketing to when developing a design solution but a broader research approach with a variety of perspectives can provide a more detailed picture of who your user is or possibly reshape it entirely as Kuniacsky states “Everyone will shine a light on a different side of the user. When all these are seen together, the profile will have a richness that will reveal restrictions and opportunities that are difficult to determine otherwise”.

Kuniavsky also recommends developing your user profile before you start developing your product “The concept of your audience should emerge simultaneously with the concept of your product. After all you’re making something for someone, so who’s that someone?”. I believe that focusing more consciously on my user earlier in the design process can give me better foundations from which to develop my solution.



Kuniavsky, Mike 2003 Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research Morgan Kaufmann Publishers



Week 1 Reflection

1. How did engaging with a real person, testing with a real person, change the direction your prototype took?

It gave me an insight into the possible audience for my prototype. The user provided feedback for how she and others she knew would use or benefit from the prototype, audiences I hadn’t considered before. I had a sense that my prototype would have a more niche application but testing with another person opened up the possibility for broader application. Talking to another person gave me inspiration for how data would be entered into my design to cater to their needs. I think if I were designing a product with a data entry element I would not have considered the idea of subverting the process and purposely entering undesired outcomes to get purposely undesirable recommendations, this made me think of how insight can be gained from users unconventionally engaging with a prototype.


2. What was it like showing unfinished work to another person?

Showing an unfinished idea to another person creates a lack of confidence in the presentation of the idea. There was the need to compensate for unfinished or unclear features through explanation.


3. As a User, how did you interact with your partner’s level of lowly-resolved prototype; how did the level of resolution impact your experience as a user?

The prototype was a small scale model of a space so interaction was not an option and the experience of the design had to mostly be explained and I had to use my imagination to get an idea of how I would engage with the design. A 3-Dimensional model of the space did help give me a sense of the level of enclosure in the space.


4.  Design thinking is an iterative, self-directed process. Based on what you learned, what would you go back and do next? What would you do over again?

The concept was based on data entry for readers so I would research this area based on the target market to get a better idea of what data would be relevant to the design. I would like to prototype more creatively with the paper to try to get a better representation of the interaction, possibly with more colours to represent different data. The design felt too static.


5.  What principle, what tool would you infuse into the work tomorrow?

Empathising, researching the market, making observations about how people use existing similar designs and the benefits and limitations of those designs and using this information to influence my design.




Andrej Prijic Design Thinking Research Report

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