IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts

Tutorial 9: Visual Storytelling


How did thinking in terms of shots and scenes influence your approach to communicating your design concept?

Thinking in terms of shots and scenes really forced us to give a concrete visual form to the scenarios where users might be interacting with out design concept.  We have to think about who these characters are, where they would be using this technology, what their actions would be and in what sequence.  Then we have to take all this information and think of how to best capture and relay them visually (what type of shots and transitions to use) in order to communicate our design to potential users.


What motivated your choice of storyline structure? Can your think of an exemplar from a film that uses the same structure?

Our storyline structure is quite straightforward, with relatively linear, sequential narrative progression.  Most films that came out of the Classical Hollywood era followed this structure of exposition -> inciting incident -> rising action -> climax -> denouement, though in our storyline it will be much more simplified.  We also toyed around with interjections (perhaps cutaways) that address the camera for comedic effect, like in early Woody Allen movies.  These would parody styles of late-night commercials and infomercials.


What choices did you make about audience and style? Were they related?

Yes, given the wide target demographic of our design concept, we wanted a method of communication that would reach as general an audience as possible.  The linear narrative is a style/structure that is at this point so embedded into our way of viewing media as audience members.  Coupled with the obvious types of shots that follow the Institutionalized Mode of Representation, such as establishing shots, medium two-shots, over the shoulders, close-ups and insert shots, we’d just like this to be straightforward and easily comprehensible.


Tutorial 7: Interrogating Affordances


Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?

My object is a plastic Pump bottle which I’ve been reusing as a water bottle for a couple of days.  My understanding of affordances over the course of the exercise as I started to remember concepts from the reading and the lecture.  I started thinking of more basic characteristics of the bottle (e.g. it has weight, it has a base, it’s pliable plastic) and figuring out what they mean in terms of affordances (e.g. it affords standing, it affords pumping, it affords holding things in place).

While thinking of alternative uses, these affordances become the source of inspiration.  Like we can use it as a paper weight, or a door stop, or a squirt gun, based on these affordances.  Then it leads to how we can manipulate the object.  Let’s say it’s now a flower vase, but we need to twist the cap off.  How nice would it be if we could hang it on the terrace?  So I added a strap, which would actually serve the object in its original function (as a water bottle) as well.

Given that affordances is a relational property between a person and an object, how did the manipulation of the object and the person’s abilities inform your understanding of the concept? Did it give you inspiration or insight for how to work with affordances as a designer? Discuss this through the specific objects you explored in the exercise.

I was fascinated by the concept of hidden affordances and how a person can be informed of all the affordances an object can have.  How can we tell that the top cap slides up?  How do we know the main cap twists off?  These are some of the things we need to consider as a designer.  When we were manipulating the water bottle, after experimenting with chopsticks, we thought of adding a button that would slide the top cap up, which also means the slide affordance isn’t hidden anymore.

Understanding the affordances of an object is necessary in order to optimize its design. Even the water bottle, whose design feels very obvious and intuitive, can be manipulated further according to the affordances we discover.  Beyond aesthetics and the functions we deem necessary, we can explore what other affordances it can have, and maybe what affordances it shouldn’t have, what affordances should be perceptible, and what false affordances can be misleading.


Tutorial 6: Experience Prototyping


How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?

Physically acting out helped us flesh out ideas as we explored them, let us identify real physical/spatial challenges to these ideas and let us act out scenarios so we get a better sense of how they’d function through time.

Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problems through bodystorming?  In what way?

Yes, we tested out these ideas and solutions by acting them out, eliminating and modifying the ones that don’t work as well because of said challenges until we pick the best ones.  For example, we realized how we could improve on our stacked seats ideas when we acted them out and saw the potential for rotating rows to solve the getting-up-to-use-the-bathroom problem.

What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

It was challenging because ultimately the conditions don’t mirror the reality of the situation.  We still had to imagine parts or characteristics of the actual physical space (such as how cramped the actual cabin is or how bright those reading lights can be) which creates this tension between what we do with our bodies and the image we had in our heads which had to be communicated within the group as well.

Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

I think it can sometimes be a little limiting.  Our imaginations are boundless while the challenges of simulating that physical space might encourage us to immediately dismiss solutions when they pose challenges and not think out of the box.




Tutorial 5: Ideating


How did taking the position of an Extreme User influence your thinking in relation to the design challenge?

Having to place myself in a position of such a specific, extreme character pushed me to think outside the box, outside of what I personally would love to see in the design of a product.  Instead, I had to imagine what this character, a Trekkie, would want in a product based on her background, interests and goals.  We have to think of features that are very specialized and kind of out there, that might seem to only satisfy these extreme users but could actually inspire some interesting innovations.

Was it different to how you usually generate ideas and empathy?

It was very different because normally we’d either generate ideas based on our own wants and needs or, if we’re thinking of other potential users, we’d base it on common denominators in order to get to the features or characteristics that would satisfy the wants and needs for the majority of the base.  In this exercise, we kind of did the opposite, which again could result in something a wider user base would want.  Even when I did the reading, looking at daily planner designs for the drug dealer and the pope I thought “these are actually pretty cool.”

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?

Definitely.  We tried to come up with characters that are part of the same extreme user group but also had distinct backgrounds and personalities.  It forces us to consider a greater diversity within this user group rather than make sweeping generalizations based on the initial keyword.  When we came up with the stories, we also had fun thinking of ways these characters would interact with each other (and in a more concrete way once we reached the storyboard phase) and, as such, how that affects the needs of the design.



Tutorial 3: Creating Personas


Describe your experience of creating personas from different users’ perspectives gathered in the interview data. Was there enough commonality between the 4 people interviewed to form a coherent persona? Or did it make more sense to create a second different persona?

Our group decided on the topic of taking public transportation.  Between the 4 people interviewed, 3 people exhibited various commonalities in their habit, motivation, favorite features, and frustrations despite differences in gender, age, and cultural background.  One person, however, appeared to be on the other end of the spectrum in many of the variables and seemed to represent a whole other type of user of public transportation.

In the end, we decided to create 2 personas, one based on the 3 people, all of whom take the train and bus regularly to get to school and work, and spend at least an average of 40 minutes a day on board.  We took the mode of the values to determine the persona’s characteristics and decided she’s a female, foreign student and part-time worker who’s been in Sydney for a number of years.

The other persona is based on the person on the other end of the spectrum, who uses public transportation once a year for recreational purposes.  We created a male professional who recently relocated for work and has a car as a primary mode of transport, based largely on the interviewee.  This persona provides a contrast to the first.


Do you think your final persona(s) was successful in generating empathy with users?
What would you change to make it better?

We didn’t have much time to consult other groups about our personas, but I do think our first persona, Candace, was successful in generating empathy with users.  She frequently uses public transportation and is dependent on it to get where she needs to go and accomplish her daily tasks.  There is a clear picture of the young, busy user on-the-go who has a full schedule but who also needs to mind her expenses, which many would be able to relate to.

I think our second persona, Ronaldo, maybe generates less empathy with users as he very rarely uses public transportation and only for recreational reasons (i.e. not out of necessity).  Perhaps we could come up with believable alternative motivations for him to use public transportation more often (for example, for long distance travels) while still making him different enough from Candace.


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