IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind


Cecile Tran

t06: experience prototyping


exercise 01: physical warmup

For this exercise, Kevin and I walked around the room and told each other nonsensical stories. One of us would talk and talk and talked while the other listened. The listener was then able to control the talker by saying directions such as repeat, continue, slow, fast or normal. This was a great way to get the mind flowing and responsive.


exercise 02: bodystorming

We got into groups of five and brainstormed ideas to address the problem of sleeping on planes. First we identified the various causes such as hard head rests and bad odours. We organised our information in two ways, in a table and a drawing. The table allowed us to quickly jot problems down that we discussed as a group. While the drawing enabled us to empathise with the user.

Additionally we then body stormed or acted out possible ideas which may solve the problem. In this way, we were able to explore the feasibility or practicalities of our ideas in real life and empathise with user on a deeper level. Body storming, with the aid of props, allowed us to quickly test ideas and realise the limitations or successes. In this way, we were able to quickly prototype the design and develop it to better suit the context. Furthermore, recreating the context of the plane – by tightly packing the chairs in rows – really shifted our focus on the design possibilities but more importantly constraints such as size, location etc.

Body storming is a technique I have never done before and I found this exercise incredibly effective in generating and developing ideas. The exercise would be good alone but best with others. I guess there are limitations with the exercise. Say I have never been on a plane before and was doing the exercise alone. However if I had never been on a plane before but was given this experience through the exercise, my idea generation and development would be better than if I only brainstormed. Or maybe the situation was harder to recreate such as a tsunami or volcano explosion. In each case, we would require more simulation, through moving walls or water etc., to truly recreate the experience. Furthermore, what if I was body storming by myself but my situation called for more than one person or thing – such as a full bus or being inside a lion enclosure? Thus the exercise would best suit some problems than others.

Through props, sketching and a live discussion, we were able to generate a very holistic solution.

r e f l e c t i o n

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

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

3/ What was different or challenging about body storming?

4/ Does body storming lend itself to certain types of problems?

Please see all reflection points above.

t05: ideating


exercise 01: design challenge

Is there a future for the payphone – and what would it be? How can it play a vital role in this in this new networked society, both in urban centers and rural regions?


exercise 02: ideating

As a group, we decided to take on the extreme user group. the Romantics. We were interested in how the future payphone could fulfill or facilitate the dreams and desires of the Romantics. Using the design provocation cards, we determined the character traits of Romantics. These included the need for connections, personalization and love. Furthermore, we created character profiles that personified these characteristics. My character was Bella.

Using post it notes we generated ideas of what our characters would want from the future payphone. This was a fast and effective way to visualise the user needs. Using this method, we were able to conceptualise the ‘Love Call’. A payphone which was personal, allowed the  user to contact loved ones past, present and future and send them gifts or be present with them.

We then wrote short narratives about how users would interact and come upon the ‘Love Call’. My story was about Kelly and how she uses the payphone to call her friend. We then created storyboards from the narratives. This was a great way to explore how the payphone would be experienced.

r e f l e c t i o n s

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?

By taking the position as a ‘Romantic’ I was able to think about the design brief more broadly. It allowed me to generate user needs and wants that I wouldn’t necessarily think of such as gift giving or magic. It really pushed the ideating for us as a group because it wasn’t about personal needs or desires. Thus, we were able to work more collaboratively and efficiently.

Furthermore, our empathy skills were much more heightened. We had to develop a strong and solid character profile from the very beginning and this really helped with developing the design. Through talking and listening to each other, we were able to identify and rank the key user needs which was incredibly useful when it came to developing the design.

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?

The design provocation cards were great as they really started the ball rolling for us. When we were first presented with the ‘Romantics’, we were hesitant to start identifying the user needs. The cards got us into discussing and identifying the needs. From there we were able to develop a few of our own.

The stories are a great way to communicate the functionality of the ‘Love Call’. Rather than listing the various functions, the stories contextualised the design and help develop the user experience. It was excellent to see how the user may interact or happen upon the payphone.

The storyboard was an exciting way of visually representing the story. It really focused us on the key moments within the narrative. We were able to communicate much more this way and allowed others to also empathise with the characters.

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t04: empathy and defamiliarisation



exercise 01: reflective listening

I partnered up with Lester and we interviewed each other using the topic: ‘How you imagine yourself in 20 years time’. I asked Lester questions such as, ‘Where do you see yourself in terms of your career?’ and ‘What are your dreams and personal goals you would like to achieve?’. Through the interview I was able to gain empathy towards Lester’s experiences  through understanding his feelings and motivations in life. After the interview, Lester and I reflected on our experience of the interview. I definitely felt more comfortable as a speaker because I found it easy to open up and reflect on the questions that were put forth. Conversely, Lester found it easier to be a listener and I found that he had a very good interviewing style. Both us found interviewing and answering harder than expected and that preparation was key to a good interview.


exercise 02: defamiliarisation of everyday reality

For this exercise we watched two videos which portrayed two situations with public transport. We would watch the video then make notes afterwards our bodily sensations, ideas and memories. It was incredibly interesting making the familiar strange and is an incredibly useful tool to reflect on everyday situation.


exercise 03: empathic modelling

We wrapped our phone lens and glasses with plastic wrap reducing the visibility through them. We then navigated through the room and observed things such as colours, ambitious shapes and sounds. In reflection, the exercise highlighted how the experiences someone with reduced visual capabilities may encounter and how they may be more reliant on other senses.

r e f l e c t i o n s

01/ Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise: reflective listening, defamiliarisation of everyday reality and empathic modelling

02/ Complement your reflections with photographs of the process.

03/ Include a scanned copy of your defamiliarisation forms (public transport).

Please see all reflection points above.

t03: creating personas



exercise 01 and 02: interview instructions and generating personas instructions

For the interview, we chose to focus on ‘going to the supermarket’. We then asked questions such as:demographic data, reasons for going to the supermarket, how often you eat out per week, how long do you spend in the supermarket, how often do you shop hungry, how many bags of shopping do you end up having etc.

Following the interview, we identified the variables and mapped out the answers in a table of line graph. In this way we were able to see the potential patterns between users such as Cecile doesn’t go shopping often because its further away and not on a convenient route whereas Sam goes quite frequently as he lives very close to the supermarket and its ‘on the way home’.


exercise 03: user profile

From the interviews, we collated a series of patterns and goals in which were used to create two distinct personas. These personas were then used to represent the diverse user needs we had such as convenience, saving money or stress relief. As a group we discussed our individual narrative personas. We decided that the two personas, Derek and Cindy, represented a diverse cross section of the community but more personas should be created to create a larger range.

r e f l e c t i o n s

01/ Describe you experience of creating personas from different user’s 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?

Through the experience of creating personas from different user perspectives, I was able to empathise deeper with the supermarket users. Creating personas allowed me to represent a group of users through one persona and keep everyone concentrated. In this exercise, due to the polarising data collected such as, Cecile doesn’t go shopping often because its further away and not on a convenient route whereas Sam goes quite frequently as he lives very close to the supermarket and its ‘on the way home, we thought it was best to create two different personas to acknowledge the diverse users.

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

I think through the creation of the two personas we were able to represent a diverse cross section of the community. These personas were able to reflect the interview data and patterns we identified and allow us to empathise with the user. However, in the future, I think the personas should be more multifaceted to accommodate the wider community of supermarket shoppers. This can be done through a deeper development of the user’s narrative.

t02: interpreting data


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exercise 01 and 02: read interview data, use yellow post it notes to record observations found in data

The interview accounted a person’s experience travelling through Croatia. Using this information I was able to interpret the user’s interest, needs, motivations and frustrations. These were then transferred into the yellow post it notes.


exercise 03: create affinity diagram

We came together as a group and discussed the parallels between each of our interviews. These included: I need child friendly activities, I need reliable navigation etc. Similar yellow post it notes were then clustered together and labelled under a single blue post it note. We then walked to other people’s walls and once we returned we reviewed our own again.

r e f l e c t i o n s

01/ How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?

The interview is a great method to build empathy with the prospective user because it is casual and allows the interviewer to cater the questions specifically to the user as the interview goes on. The interview also gives fairly detailed and personal accounts and this allows the interviewer to really step into the shoes of the user.

02/ How did the clustering of information help you to understand the user needs?

The exercise of clustering the information really surprised me. I was astonished to see so many parallels between all six interviews. When delving into my interview I felt so intimate but to see that other users also had similar interests, needs, motivations and frustrations as my own user was very interesting. I guess, in this way, designers are able to identify the user needs across the board and this is critical when defining the design brief.

03/ What was difficult or challenging with this technique? How would you do it better next time?

I think identifying the user’s interests, needs, motivations and frustrations is critical. If you misinterpret the interview, the affinity diagram may show inaccurate information. Also with my own interview, there was a lot of personal interests and frustrations that wasn’t easy to group in the affinity diagram. I think for next time, we should talk together as a group beforehand to maybe brainstorm possible clusters or read the interview beforehand to understand the context of the exercise or even read several interviews to see the parallels ourselves.

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