IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Art student

Tutorial 7: Affordances

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

I focused my attention on a very basic Kathmandu umbrella.  Everyone knows how to work an umbrella, so I initially thought the affordances were quite obvious and self-explanatory.

This notion quickly changed when I tried to list all the obvious affordances, and the only one I could really come up with was the velcro clasp, which affords unclasping to release the wrapped up material.

There are so many sequential affordances because you can’t really see them until a certain action has been made.  For example, you can’t see that you are meant to expand the internal skeleton along the center rod until you open the velcro clasp.  You then have to see the internal structure and make an attempt to manipulate it before you realize that it slides upwards along the center rod until it reaches the maximum expansion and clicks into place.  You also can’t tell that the plastic handle affords pulling downward, which makes the umbrella longer and easier to hold above your head.  When it is time to contract the umbrella, the little button which controls the lock position is very discreet and unobvious, so you have to hunt around before you can find how to close the umbrella again.


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.

Exploring unintended affordances of the umbrella was quite funny.  I realized that its top-heavy nature makes it a nice weapon if someone tries to attack you.  When it is extended, the top portion can be swung like a sledgehammer and create some good force.  I also thought about other things people might need a shield from, not only rain, but the sun, dust, other people you may want to hide from.  Also, the lack of affordances plays into the fact that many useful features may have been left out to afford convenience and portability.  Having an umbrella that folds up very small is useful when you want to be able to carry it in a handbag or backpack.

As a designer, a problem I found extremely annoying is trying to neatly fold the material flaps back into place, so I thought maybe a drawstring that is threaded through each of the flaps that could be wound up with a dial on the handle of the umbrella would guarantee a neat fold every time.  I also thought that having one button that fully expanded the umbrella with one motion would be handy to avoid having to figure out the inner workings of each individual umbrella and skip straight to the expand and cover stage.IMG_2930IMG_2931

dpon3754 Tute 5: Ideating

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

Taking a position of an Extreme User helped to get the creative process flowing.  As a designer, I tend to self regulate my ideas as they come and go, opting for more realistic and plausible solutions, therefore not exploring every idea in much detail, potentially discarding winning ideas simply because they didn’t seem fleshed out enough.  The extreme user helped me to let go of my boundaries and allow myself to explore the most outlandish ideas.  It was fun because I became really invested in the user that I was creating, discovering his latent needs as I discovered more elements to his backstory and personality.

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

Yes, usually there is a real life person that you get to know through a short interview, and sometimes they may not reflect their personality in their answers, making it harder to find empathy for them.  This gave me ideas of how to find out more about someone’s latent needs through backstory.  It also allowed me to come up with dozens of ideas on the spot which is unusual for me.

3. 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 stories helped develop the character and trajectory of the design.  The more I wrote about the user, the more I discovered about the needs of the design and further developed the concept and features and system requirements.  The provocation cards were an interesting addition to provide inspiration and to get our brains thinking in new directions that we may not usually think.  The storyboards helped to solidify the final concept design because it made the designer think about the user work flow and how it will fit into his life.



dpon3754 week 6: experience prototyping

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

It was surprisingly kind of fun.  Once our group took it seriously, we were moving chairs around to simulate rotating conveyor belts and figuring out how much space every element of the design problem and solution took up and even trying to figure out how to make paper examples of the ideas we were coming up with.  We even saw another group sleeping under and on top of tables to simulate bunk beds, which was truly committing to the task.  It was an interesting way to take an idea that little step closer to plausibility.  Something might sound good when you say it out loud, and then once you begin acting it out, you realize it won’t work or may not be as simple as it sounded.  We were also subconsciously forced into the user’s perspective and basically created physical user work flow diagrams, going through step by step how the user will interact with the design.  So it kind of combines a lot of elements that we would usually do separately.

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

Yes, we took our verbal ideas to the next level and it made sketching the ideas a little easier because we had a visual to work from.  It also gave us those little nuanced details that the user might look for that we as designers might overlook.  It was like using ourselves to conduct user research on our own ideas.

3. What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

It was challenging at first because we sometimes couldn’t figure out how to act out specific scenarios without certain types of products or machinery.  It was sometimes easier to just talk about what we were thinking than to act it out, but it definitely helped us come up with more ideas than usual and elaborate on them in more detail.

4. Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

Bodystorming is better suited for product design that the user will have to touch and hold and manipulate rather than technologies like apps and web-based services because it isn’t very productive to pretend to press buttons, it is more efficient to sketch and draw out different pages and layouts. In our group’s case, one of our solutions to improve sleeping on a plane was a change to the chairs themselves and how they could potentially rotate on a conveyor belt when someone wanted to exit the row, which was good for bodystorming because we picked the chairs up and moved them around.  Our other solutions were more focused on the touch screens mounted in the seat in front of the user and was more about pressing and selecting options.






Tutorial 4

1) Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise

a. Reflective listening
I found the listening much easier than the speaking because it was hard to talk for 10 minutes straight without running out of things to say.  There were no questions to prompt me.  Reflective listening was enjoyable because you get to learn about another person’s experience.  Not having to write everything down made it easier to engage and really listen to the speaker, not just the voice, but the intention and you can make more inferences with the added level of engagement.  You can also ask clarification questions and help them dive deeper into what they are trying to say.  Another thing I was reminded of is how easy it is for two humans, speaking the exact same language, to interpret words and messages differently.  It is so important to speak with detail and description because the person listening may not exactly understand what you are trying to say, even though it may seem obvious to the speaker.

b. Defamiliarisation of everyday reality
Watching a familiar situation, but being removed from it, was a little strange.  It helps you to sort out your objective feelings looking at it from the outside, from your perceived feelings which are what you think you feel during the time of the situation.  Having the visions remind of us real life experiences can bring back vivid and intense emotions, which are heightened when just writing uninhibited because there are no boundaries or rules and you can really get everything out without fear of judgment.

stream of consciousness  writing



c. Experience modelling 

This exercise felt a bit forced to me, but I can see the points it is trying to make.  We rely on our sight to get through so much of our experienced world, but what happens when our sight is taken away?  Maybe there is a power outage in the train station? how can we rely on our other senses to make sense of the world around us.  Our perceived world is often very different when we have to rely on sound and color and ambiguous shapes.  Spatial awareness becomes more influential in perceiving our surroundings when sight is taken away.


IDEA 9106 Tutorial 3

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

It was very interesting going from analyzing 4 different sets of data to trying to find commonalities between them.  While each individual person had their own ideas about public transportation, both positive and negative, once we began to look not only for common links, but WHY these commonalities between certain people exist, insights began appearing that were not obvious on the surface. From this we were able to separate the individual user data into different user personas.  This is more difficult than it sounds because I found it challenging to separate the user from the persona.  My mind wanted every user quality to follow them into their personas, instead of being able to separate the common links from the uncommon links.  In the end, we came up with 2 different personas.  With only 4 sets of user data, it was difficult to come up with one coherent persona because it doesn’t leave enough room for difference of opinions between the users, which there were many of.  With more sets of data, we could come up with a few personas that would be backed up by lots of proof, but with only 4 sets, we had to take some liberties and make a few assumptions in order to successfully personify the users.  IMG_1148.JPGIMG_20160315_204310.jpg

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

Yes it really helps to get into the mind of the user and not only learn their habits and behaviours, but also their motives. With motives, you start to empathize with their frustrations and daily challenges faced with public transportation.  You start to feel a responsibility to them to ensure that you accurately understand them and their needs and do your best to improve it for them.IMG_20160315_210125.jpg

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