IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Tierra Verde’s video for Leaf-e

Hi all,

Larinna, Theresa, Aaron and I made the following video for our design solution, Leaf-e. We hope you enjoy!

abli7425   aste4114   tnav8545   ylan0827

Week 9 – Evaluation

  1. What kinds of information and insights did it give you about the usability of the prototype?

One of the first things I noticed about both techniques was that they were great for really focusing on the user and not the thing they are interacting with – I think it must be pretty easy to be so focused on whether or not your prototype works that you miss the little cues on usability and experience.

Non-verbal behaviors are useful to observe
Users typically navigated based on a sense of navigation convention – hearing the user comment on these out loud in this technique was odd, as I think I take these steps for granted.

Watching user’s facial expressions in the observation technique is not something I’ve ever thought of before, and it was interesting to see the looks of concentration, frustration, and at times confusion that might not have been expressed verbally.

  1. What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?

For the out loud technique, I think the stream of consciousness works well to understand the steps leading up to the actions taken by the user – why they have gone there or clicked that. It was also useful to hear explicit frustrations or positive/negatives about the prototype. In terms of what was frustrating, having to pay such close attention to what is said and at what point of interaction it was said is difficult – even with video recording – it can be hard to track. I can also imagine some people might take a lot longer to explain themselves, or aren’t very articulate – this could make it much harder to take away key learnings from the task.

capturing think aloud data can be a challenge
For the user observation technique, as mentioned above I think facial expressions and bodily movements/responses can be invaluable to understanding how a user engages with the prototype. Most of these are involuntary or unconscious actions.

Week 8 – 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?


The object I’m going to focus on is a mini bottle of baby powder. It’s such a familiar household item that at first I was drawn to the conventions of it – knowing to twist the lid, to shake out content, to squeeze the bottle to puff out content.


The sketching helped me to think of different ways of interacting with it, especially as I explored sound and smell. I started thinking of how it afforded weight, so it could be used as a paper weight. It also afforded squeezing and twisting, which could allow a child to play with it (especially once it is empty). Being quite tall, it afforded resting against, perhaps a photo. The markings on the lid (if you removed the outer, spinning part) afforded imprinting – perhaps it could be used as a decorative stamp. Truly, there are a lot of possibilities I hadn’t considered until I started exploring it with all of my senses.

  • 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.

Our manipulation of a solid perfume container – with the input of three people – definitely challenged my conception of what is possible. We were almost playing for playing’s sake, to see what we could make, what we could change, attach or remove. Each of us had a different idea to ad, which did make me think how much our pre conceived ideas of what a thing does influences our interactions with it. I most certainly see the benefit of exploration as a result, and am looking forward to implementing this in my group’s prototyping.

What started as solid perfume container ended in a weirdly reassuring hand…

Week 7 – Bodystorming

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

As we were discussing and mind mapping the problem, I had already started thinking of solutions based on my own memories of airplane travel in economy class. It was interesting to see how these ideas might work in a physical space, and also surprising well and how poorly they actually ended up being. We were quite limited with props and resources, but it was fun to play around. I found that by seeing people in position and playing, new ideas came up as we went.It was also clear that some ideas were not as practicable as we had originally hoped.

Brainstorming problems with sleeping on planes


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

Yes and no – it was clear some ideas would need to be thought out better, perhaps within an actual airplane or a replica of typical economy seats, but with limitied time and resources in class to play with it was difficult to refine ideas all too much.

  1. What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

Since our problem was “sleeping”, it was difficult to really simulate the experience within the constraints of the room and the time given. To truly understand how people interact with a small cramped environment while they are sleeping, you’d probably actually want someone to try and sleep – a challenge in 10 minutes with florescent lights on and the low backed plastic chairs. But that was the limitiation of our class time, not of body storming itself. A challenge is being creative with what you have – difficult if this doesn’t come naturally to you.

Our post-bodystorming ideas sketched out
  1. Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

Originally I was going to answer that yes it would, but the more I think about it, and think about the readings, I would say bodystorming lends itself to all types of problems, as design problems are inherently connected to how humans interact with something else (be it lighting, an app, furniture, appliances, cars, houses, streets – whatever!). Depending on how you set up the bodystorming, I feel it could be a valuable experience in all situations.

aste4114 research report summary poster

Hi again everyone,

Here are the post it’s and my answers from Tuesday’s class:

1) Tell me more about the meaning of sustainability in food delivery? Local Product? Fresh Food? /  I didn’t know that food production can be sustainable.

These are fair questions and statements, as today most people are disconnected from where their food comes from. Sustainable food production can encompass many things, but some of the key areas are:

  • Food Waste
  • Over-consumption (such as over-fishing)
  • Water usage (especially important with seasonality/locality)
  • Carbon footprint (food miles, or how far food has to travel to get to you – again this relates to seasonality/locality)
  • Greenhouse gases (from both food waste and from livestock)
  • soil quality/arability (also relates to use of pesticides and other chemicals)
  • Fair Trade (ensuring wages and working conditions are both safe and fair, especially relevant to coffee and chocolate)
  • Conservation of land
  • Conservation of wildlife
  • Packaging & industrial waste

2) I didn’t know that preference on food relates to daily sustainability

Yes, it really does. Every time you choose to eat a fruit or a vegetable that is out of season, it either requires a lot more energy and water to produce, or it is imported from a great distance. The ability to eat tomatoes year round was not the norm in my parents generation. But there are also things like palm oil, found in many processed foods as it is cheap to produce. Because the world is demanding more cheap palm oil, many natural habitats for animals like orangutans are being destroyed to make room for palm droves. This land is generally not rotated, and eventually the land becomes infertile, so more forests are destroyed. A similar process is happening in South America to meet the growing global demands for beef, soy and corn.

3) Can you tell me more about the connection between the sustainability and convenient.

Convenience is important to many people that I interviewed, everyone mentioned it at some stage. Supermarkets are seen as the most convenient place to shop due to the large amount of variety available and the long opening hours.

Supermarkets compete with each other on price, trying to be the best value for customers. In this way, they have the power to choose what to stock in their stores. Unfortunately, this usually means the cheapest cost price available so they can make the most profit. As consumers, if we don’t know about sustainability, or if sustainable items are too inconvenient or expensive for us to get then we will probably go for whatever is easiest – usually not the sustainable option. But if consumers demand more sustainable options, supermarkets normally respond to customer demand.

4) Have you thought about how to ensure quality of the products you buy?

This question relates to one of the solutions I proposed, which is the “Co-op Shopper”. Pat of the solution could allow shoppers to receive a photo of the actual produce selected for them as a final confirmation before purchase. The next best thing to being there!

aste4114 research report poster



Week 5 – ideation

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?

It was an interesting experience to take on the extreme personality of Mina, a 16 year old spoilt rich kid from Barcelona. I chose this as I have previously worked as an ESL teacher in BCN and have had a number of spoilt rich teenagers in my classes. I just tried to remember their attitude to everything – which was mostly why they had to study when everything was on their phones now, and how they fell apart when their battery died or they couldn’t get on to the free wifi at the school.

Adding the tech loving side of her personality was also fun, but I must admit my imagination was probably a little limited here. I worked in telecommunications for 10 years, so there was a part of my brain that was trying to stay within the realms of what I knew to be possible. Thining of the ispiration behind my character, Hiro from Big Hero 6, helped though – there’s so much tech around to be inspired by these days in TV and film.
Combining the tech loving side with a teenager’s mindest was fun and did get me thinking in a different way to how I normally would. I think my frustrations as a teenager with payphones are quite simple irrelevant today, so taking on the persona of my extreme user was quite helpful in coming up with new ideas.

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?


I think the story and storyboard helped me more than the provocation cards. I didn’t really feel stuck for ideas, so only gave the cards a cursory glance. Perhaps in a different scenario, one where I were constrained a bit more (reality!), the provocation cards would have come in quite useful. I can also imagine it becoming more difficult to come up with a story, depending on the circumstances. Personally, I’d really like to explore constraints more the next time I embark on an ideation activity.

Blog at

Up ↑