IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Blog Reflection 09 – bmar5888

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

By thinking in terms of shots, I was able to more clearly identify the purpose of each shot. Rather than trying to include too many concepts for a given shot, shots enable me to think “what is the purpose of this shot?”, “who is this shot about?”, “what are they doing?”, “where are they doing it?” and when in the sequence?. It also enabled me to break a narrative down into it’s core simple elements, and ask – “what are the minimum set of scenes I need to effectively, engagingly and clearly communicate an idea?”. By breaking it down, I was also able to more clearly identify the objective of each scene, and identify a single camera technique to *most effectively* communicate that idea.

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

I was motivated by traditional short films – setting introductory scenes to create context, but not filling in details as to what the toy bear actually did, leaving these answers for later in the scene to create suspense, to keep the viewer engaged and wondering what the purpose of the bear is and why it’s the centre of attention. The answer to this comes mid way though the narrative. One example of this is in Ex Machina – where the cause of the blackouts is not known. In combination with the foreboding sounds, camera angles, lighting and general aesthetic, the effect this unknown creates is significant. It creates an emotion within the viewer, that helps reinforce the directors desire to make the sense of unknown resonate within the viewer and stand out as a key theme. This effect will be utilised to a much softer degree in our film – we still want to create curiosity, but NOT use fear as the emotional stimulant, we’d rather promote curiosity by allowing the viewer to appreciate the *CHILDS* curiosity in the toy – even the Child doesn’t know what its for in early stages or how it works, the viewer discovers the toy alongside the child.
3) What choices did you make about audience and style? Were they related?
Audience choices involved people who are a stakeholder of our project group’s design solution. This includes psychologists, children, parents and teachers. Any user who has the potential to interact with the system, and has some interest in being informed about it. Stylistic choices involved choosing locations that are familiar to these stakeholders, using gentle camera movements to convey peace – as our solution is in the therapy space we want our camera movements and vibe created from this film to be representative and appropriate for a therapeutic environment. Additionally, we do not want to scare or frighten viewers in terms of the unknown (the unknown being what the bear’s actual purpose is), we want the atmosphere to be one of curiosity and safety. Therefore, the style choices are definitely related to the viewer, we are not producing a thriller or action movie, we’re aiming to educate and promote this through creating curiosity in the viewer, via the childs curiosity in the bear. To establish this curiosity we need to create a calming atmosphere, in terms of camera shot choice, camera movement choice, and camera environment (context) choice. Additionally, this interest could come in the form of shots and music to build rapport with the child, have them convey emotions for which the viewer feels sorry for them (complication), and then follow on through the narrative (suspense) to the solution where the bear improves the condition of the child. A viewer who can empathise with this scenario is more likely to engage, therefore audience type is a crucial factor. It’s just like “who are we designing for?” and “what are their needs?” Our solution space in this case is the video, and therefore it’s style needs to satisfy the needs and wants audience (like how we satisfy the needs of personas).

Blog Reflection 07 – bmar5888

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

When using the scissors,my initial understanding of the affordances changed when we taped together our hands. The circular cutouts in the handles were no longer of use, which required us to pinch the handles with the ends of our fingers. This reduced stability and made the cutting process very difficult. With the only affording aspect of the scissors removed, they were near impossible to use effectively. The affordances changed as we changed our ability to use them. Most of the time we would drop the scissors or do a poor job of cutting. Apart from the finger cutouts, there was no easy way to manipulate the scissors, was interesting to see how much we relied on this affordance alone.

2. 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.

By reducing affording abilities of the objects, but also our ability to interact with object affordances, we learnt that there needs to be a match between object and user. This was evident with the scissors – if we taped up the holes we couldn’t cut. Likewise if we taped our fingers together we couldn’t use the holes. Similarly, we attempted to augment our nose and use it as a pointing device instead. This proved tricky. but also revealed hidden insights, in that when manipulating a user interface with our nose, we couldn’t actually see what we were manipulating! This hidden insight was only identifiable through this exercise. This inspired me to consider the dual-nature of affordances, and to attempt to design things in a way that works for as many users as possible. For example, taps that don’t require finger movement to grip, but instead automatic taps or at very least taps with a large free-moving handle (that you can move with your elbow). In addition to this, the TV remove became difficult to operate with the nose only, in terms of having it pointing in the correct direction whilst you use it. Finally, objects like the toothbrush or comb were only affordable when blindfolding ourselves because of their long smooth edges that afforded gripping. When gripped in this way, the usage of the object came naturally – eg the comb was facing in the correct direction. this wasn’t the case with the toothbrush handle – it could be gripped the wrong way and you wouldn’t know which way the brush was facing if you were blind – however this unidirectional handling is required for brushing both upper and lower teeth. Perhaps a way to tell which way its facing for visually impaired users so they don’t need to feel for the bristles? (and dirty the brush).

Blog Reflection 08 – bmar5888

1) As a user, think aloud taught me to be more critical of the actions I was taking. By verbalising my thoughts I was more able to asses which user interface components I was drawn too first, and interacting with. Normally, I have the end goal only in mind, and the steps to get there are often lost of forgotten as i tried things. Speaking it allowed also helped me to weigh up the options presented to me. The greatest insights were the alternate ways of searching for the tablet for example. I realised I began by searching for iPads, then selecting the tablet category on the side, rather than trawling through a list of categories from the home page. I realised there were other alternative ways that could have been faster than the route I chose.

As an observer, I discovered that participants’e choices in navigating interfaces were different from mine. Eventually the participant exhausted all options in attempting to find the required item on the university of Sydney website. As an observer, one can tell when frustration begins when the participant stars language pertaining to giving up for being over the task and not wishing to continue. At the start it’s “can I give up?”, these statements increase to “I think I’m going to have to give up”, and having totally exhausted options they complete with “I give up / I fail”. Mouse movements and calmness decrease whilst agitation increase towards giving up. The most useful insights here were how users react, and how their frustration builds when interfaces are not easy to use, it’s a downwards spiral.

2) As far as think aloud goes, what worked best was allowing me to think of alternate ways to use the interface to achieve the goal each step of the way. It made me question what I was doing. From a listening perspective, it allowed me to understand the testers perception of the current user interface and what they think it’s purpose is, and what steps they can take next to move forwards towards their goal.

What was frustrating was that sometimes when you’re working something out, and it’s quite confusing, it’s extra confusing to try to explain it at the same time. Sometimes I prefer to have worked a set of interface steps out first, then explain what that means. Of course, by me explaining something incorrectly could be valuable information for the researcher in that the part I was explaining incorrectly wasn’t terribly clear.

Summary Poster – bmar5888

Full resolution version here:

Summary Poster Small

Blog Reflection 06 – bmar5888

1) How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?
Like the previous week, by putting ones self in an expressive and unrestricted mindset, ideas flowed more freely and team members didn’t feel inhibited or worried that their ideas would be criticised. I found it was about achieving a creative state of mind that was freed from constraints to help contribute towards an experiential prototype. Physically acting out the logistics of moving between the seat and the isle for stretch/toilet breaks identified and reminded us of the challenges of such situation, such as if the person was sleeping, if you annoy them too much, if you snore in their face, who gets the arm rest etc.

2) Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through bodystorming? In what way?
We refined our solutions by grouping them into problem spaces and then solutions within a mind map. We had different levels of problem space and solution, some were more realistic than others.

3) What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?
Warming up and staying focused was a challenge. Conversation tended to override at times as everyone was having fun and taking things less seriously than traditional academic work. With the lack of seriousness still comes a need for structure and discipline we found.

4) Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?
Body storming lent itself well to exploring problems and empathising users interacting within a physical space (in our case the aeroplane seating situation). For users interacting with a computer user interface, the body storming technique would be less effecting in building empathy and achieving a creative state of mind.

IMG_3914 copy

Blog Reflection 05 – bmar5888

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?

Taking the position of an extreme user enabled one to get creative and become “ok” with the idea of being somewhat silly. This led to positive and additive idea generation rather than taking on a criticising approach – all ideas were considered and joined together to make one highly silly idea. This promoted group members to continue contributing and ideating without fear that their idea would be deemed as stupid. It was different, as being empathic often involves constraints, here there were no constraints which allowed a larger idea to be developed.

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 helped the team consolidate ideas and bring them together to form a singular idea, and to “fill in the gaps” of logic between the ideas. Attempting to aggregate all team members ideas into a unified solution increased contribution quality – all members had a stake in the idea and were willing to improve it. This general idea can then be chopped at later stages when testing with users – I see it as carving and refining a sculpture, mould the clay into a large general shape, then chip away at it to refine the finished product as the client sees fit.



Blog Reflection 04 – bmar5888

  1. a) Reflective Listening lessons learnt include: when you reiterate what the other person says, it lets them hear what their point was, and how clearly their point was communicated, in this case my partner added more points to reinforce her point of view. It enables both parties to be on the same page, and also promote new ideas and themes.

    b) Defamiliarisation of everyday reality was interesting in that a new fresh view of the environment was established, and every part of the experience that was interactive (eg the voice, the door sounds, the sound of the train starting and stopping) could be assessed without bias. Eg the door closing sound without knowing what it is, seemed to indicate urgency and immediate action being required (that is entering or exiting the train)

    c) Empathic modeling was similar, in that a fresh look at interaction was undertaken, and things that weren’t noticable before were key factors in identifying what things were and how interaction should take place. For example, illumination played a key role in identifying how to operate the vending machines. Contrast between colours such as the red fire hose sign was recognisable even though the text wasn’t. Stairwells were very difficult to navigate and even recognise as accessible for walking in. This exercise enabled us to empathise with users of infrastructure who may be visually impaired, and to appreciate the design queues that make their lives easier (or understand the ones that make them harder).

  2. Empathic modelling photographs:


  3. Defamiliarisation Forms:

Blog Reflection 03 – bmar5888

1) There was enough commonality between the four people interviewed to create a coherent persona. Naturally given everyone was a uni student there was a large degree of commonality. However, there was a divide between the age demographics and work. Two of the respondents were older and working whilst the two younger respondents weren’t.

We found the process overall intuitive, however we skipped the step of creating variables and circling common traits to form multiple personas and simply jumped to creating a single persona as it was clearly visible from the start. After doing this we went back and more granularly separating the research into variables, and found commonalities. In future, a software solution or spreadsheet might help automative this workflow of taking user research, separating it into key variables, and then performing statistical analysis to find significant clusters.

Would have liked to see the link between tutorial 2 and 3 – how the affinity diagramming technique relates to persona creation.

2) The final persona was very accurate – it was about using public transport without hassles from undesirables, with the goal of avoiding parking at the destination. It would seem public transport is only used if driving is inconvenient (for parking or peak hour traffic reasons for example). Other personas would include those without the option of using the car, so perhaps their expectations would differ.

Blog Reflection 02 – bmar5888

  1. How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?

By highlighting the motivations, interests, needs and frustrations of the interviewees, one was able to gain a clearer view of the customer, as the distractions of their random banter were filtered out in this first step. This enabled empathy to be built with how the interviewees felt on their holidays, and what was, and what wasn’t important to them.

In addition to this, finding similarities with other group mates and placing them in a logical hierarchy in the affinity diagram helped to reinforce the themes the interviewees were concerned with, and further enabled us to get a feel for their experiences, desires and points of view whilst on holiday.

2. How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?

The clustering process helped because it forced us to 1) identify what was common amongst all interviewees (which helped identify clusters) but also 2) limit the number of yellow notes per category which forced us to break clusters up into more granular classifications.

Additionally, I found not labelling clusters initially encouraged creativity, and resulted in more clusters being formed, rather than trying to fit yellow notes into predefined categories.

Using this logical hierarchal process enabled individual user needs to be classified into more general overarching user stories (blue then pink notes), and gain an actual picture of who the customers were and what their needs looked like.

3. What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?

Collaborating with 5 people was a bit of a challenge with the logistics of sticking post-it-notes onto the wall. We agreed that using coloured paper on a desk might be easier next time because we found that the group separated into two (for logistical reasons) – however this resulted in us having to combine the two groups’ work (e.g. some categories were defined twice), the problem with sticky notes is they’d lose their stick after being transferred. Next time a digital solution (or paper on a desk) would rectify these issues.

Additionally, before the blue note step, keeping track of if a category already existed on the wall was a challenge, because you had to go around reading the yellow notes, and sometimes they weren’t in the correct spot, and perhaps someone else was in the process of moving those notes to a different section. Communication was key. Overall, a logical structure organically came together as time went on, it was just a little chaotic at the start.


Next time, given more time, the diagram would have been cleaned into columns, however I found that during the early stages of forming the affinity diagram, the scattered approach helped aid experimentation/exploration of category ideas (similar to my previous observation of the advantage of not initially having pre-defined blue notes restricting your categorisation process). Thanks to the rest of the group, after some discussion about what was missing and some reflection on what we’d done, we were very satisfied with the outcome.

Blog at

Up ↑