- Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?
One of the objects I brought to class was a bottle of facial cosmetics (the pink bottle from Avene). As shown in the photo, the bottle usually stands on its cap, which has a flat bottom surface. In terms of affordances, the bottle cap allows me to place the bottle on the basement after using it.
Since we were asked to watch the object from another angle, I lay the bottle down on the table, and let the wider side touch the table. I looked at it from the side at the level of the table. I saw a triangle, which looks like a wedge. Thus I thought of using the bottle to stop a door from closing in special circumstances. In other words, the affordance if the bottle changed from being a standable bottle to preventing sliding of an object.
- Given that affordance 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.
The relationship reminds me of taking into account the factor of the object’s possibility and the factor of how people perceive to use the object. Based on the understanding of these two factors, the theorists developed three types of affordances: perceived affordance (includes sequential affordance), false affordance, and hidden affordance.
Being a designer, it’s easy for me to come up with some affordances I’d like to embody in my design. But I should take into account the perception of potential users: how they would perceive the affordance of this type of design. If I found that they tend to misunderstand the affordance (false affordance), or they normally can’t realize the existence of the affordance (hidden affordance), I should modify my design.
Design ideas can also be generated the other way around. I, as a designer, can first study the perception of users towards a certain object so as to see what other designed affordances can be added to that object. For example, I realize children tend to use the spoon as distorting mirror. Then I draw a glass frame on the spoon, so that user can fit him/her reflection into the glass frame, for funny effect.
- 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?
Extreme users are a different group from the user group of the product to be designed. But it helps to discover the hidden features- sometimes the hidden needs and wants- of the user group. This is because extreme users are developed to exaggerate certain aspects of the user group, and are put into scenario settings where the products might exist. As a designer, I tend to be inspired by such a scenario, and can openly think about new ideas for this particular exaggerated character. Then I may find that the idea is very likely to be welcomed by the general user group as well.
I used to first think about the needs and wants of the user group, but as I discussed above, some needs and wants are hidden. Like MP3, before it existed, no one would think about wanting a tool to store music and carry it everywhere. The needs were generated after seeing the product. So extreme user can help discover hidden 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?
Design provocation cards, as how the name tells, work pretty well in provoking new ideas from thin air. Those cards and the phrases on them are random and disconnected, so they can give you a new angle to think about the design idea.
Stories make me think through the idea in real life settings, and then help me realizing missing parts of my design. Before composing narratives, the idea is general and function-based, but after the story development I find when a user truly use the product, some other features should be involved to make the design more feasible.
Storyboards are most helpful in communicating the idea with group members. Also, in the process of visualizing, some others features are figured out, such as the appearance of the product, and the environment around it.
Question 1: how did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?
The interview content is very comprehensive and is in the form of stories. This kind of information helps me to draw a picture of the entire experience of the tourists. And also, the stories give me the context of tourists’ needs, interests, motivations and issues. Hence, I can understand the above four elements without misunderstanding.
Question 2: How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?
The interview answers are not well structured, so some of the feelings and thoughts are repeated quite a few times. This is also why we need to distract key points from the interview dialogue and then do classification and summary.
Besides, in the process of clustering and abstraction, I tended to realize the needs of tourists on a deeper level. For example, we’ve sort out quite a few yellow notes saying things like “best beer and the right spot”, “good food and elegant location”, etc. Then we realized the connection between tasty food and good dinning environment is important for many tourists. This means the solely appearance of either one won’t satisfy tourists as that of both of good food and location. And this understanding can help us in designing.
Question 3: what was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?
It’s difficult to categorize some of the yellow notes, which are more descriptive in nature. They don’t straightly respond to interest, need, issue or motivation. Now after some reflection, I think we can infer needs, interests or motivations from the information given by those yellow notes. For example, one note says, “I travel twice a year”. This can be understood as “travel is one of my interest, and I always want some travel experience every year”. Next time to study interview script, I recommend focusing firstly on statements that directly addressing to the four types of information. If after the first round of cluttering, there are not enough notes to build up the foundation, then we can restudy the script and try to infer other findings.
Another challenge is that, once there are too many categories developed, some times we stick very similar notes into different groups, because we forget the existence of another one. This means we need to do review after each process so as to eliminate errors.
Because all of us four are international master students in USYD, we have quite a few things in common speaking of motivations and frustrations. For example, we all live quite close to the university and have a part time job. Therefore, the product we chose – public transportations- aren’t used that much weekly. And also we live on a tight budget, which makes us complaining about the high price of Sydney transportation (especially there is no concession for international students), so on and so forth.
However, we did leave out some features of particular members when developing the background story of the persona.
I would say that we well picked up many outstanding features to outline a specific and distinctive persona, for instance his age, gender, educational background, preferences, etc. However, we failed to work out a vivid narrative for the persona. In other words, what we came up with was more like a profile with dot-pointed summaries of his characteristics.
For the next time, I will try to make the persona more like a real person, who is unique and recognizable, or even has odd habits and experiences. And then distract key features to create the profile for this persona.
Base on the tutorial exercise, I am confused about the meaning of creating a persona. If it is because we need to develop profiles that are based on the persona, why don’t we just make profiles according to the criteria (i.e. demographic, psychological, behavioral, etc.), like what marketers do in business settings? Also, when we are designing, do we design for a unique person as described in persona, or do we design for a bigger and more general user group?