IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



MSc Digital Communication & Culture, U Syd Will travel far & wide for good food & ☕️ 👻 ellynatjohnardi #CulinaryBonanza 📩

Week 10 Blog Reflection – Visual Storytelling exercise

For this week’s tutorial exercise, I teamed up with my Design Proposal group mates to plan a storyboard, which we might highly likely use for our team’s video presentation, considering the positive results that we generated.img_6213img_6214 1) How did thinking in terms of shots and scenes influence your approach to communicating your design concept?

In my personal opinion, thinking in terms of shots and scenes enables me to focus better, the objective is to feature our design concept in the most clear and easily comprehensible way. Because each shots and scenes will focus on a theme or an idea, it helps to eliminate distractions that will take away the attention from the design concept that we’re supposed to feature. For example, when planning the opening scene where the two characters meet and one of them introduces the design concept to the other. It was easy to go astray, by adding unecessary props or bacgkround, but we stuck to the theme we’ve set for that particular scene.

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

Due to time contraint, we chose to go with a linear timeline structure, despite having briefly contemplated a reverse / flashback timeline structure. I beleive with more time, we could come up with a solid plan for flashback timeline structure, as it is conematographically more appealing and enjoyable to watch. Predictable storyline is easy to produce, however, it has a risk of losing the audience’s interest halfway, which we try to avoid. An example of non-linear timeline film would be Titanic, which started out with the present time and then brought the audience back in time when the catastrophe happened decades earlier.

3) What choices did you make about audience and style? Were they related?

Because our design concept is targeted generally to anyone who knows a smoker whom they care for so much, for example: the parents, spouses, children, best friends, relatives of smokers, our narrative style is not very affected by the choice of audience. We are targeting a General (G) audience group (Motion picture rating system, n.d.). However, style does matter when the target is more specific group of audience, for example children or elderlies.


  • Motion picture rating system. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved 9 October, 2016, from


Week 9 Blog Reflection (Affordances)

Processed with Snapseed.

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

I choose the key to interact with. When viewed phyisically and when interacting, there are no differences in affordance. Even when viewed from different angles, the key and the ring didn’t seem to convey any affordances at all in it design, shape and weight (which is light). It is not even sharp to be used as a defence tool, so if I’d never seen how a key works, I would never find any practical affordances for this small metal object, to be honest.

In its original environment and original intended use, a key has to be inserted to a matching key-hole which are specifically or uniquely designed to only open with a specific key that’screated for it. In a different environment, the key could beused to unhinge the cap of a tin can I suppose. This key has no obvious practical affordances, that any different person including an elderly, a child, a disable or left-handed person will not use it any differently than to open a key-hole.

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.

Processed with Snapseed.
Processed with Snapseed.

A quick glance at the above contraption might bring forth some of our wildest imagination, what does it do, how to hold it and if it is functional at all or merely a useless accessory. After all, ‘affordance’ refers to ” the relationship between the abilities of a living creature, and features in the environment that afford action for those abilities” (Gibson, 1979). Initially, based on quick looks and quick feel of the ‘tool’, I understood that it useful to aid in eating food. It has a sharp blade on one end, a fork like on the other end, and two elongated sticks poking out, bound and pivoted from the mid-section.

So my interaction with the contraption was further tested when I has both my eyes closed. So I tried to approach the object as if I was actually handicapped visually, however, I still managed to use the contraption quite easily to pick up an object from the table:


In my opinion, being able to still pick up an object despite being handicapped, means that a good design should be able to convey its function and affordances, to any kind of users, ie: a universal and intuitive interface that requires almost zero adaptation to use properly, such as this surprisingly weird contraption, that still functions well even when the user is unable to see.


Norman, D.A. (1999). Affordance, conventions, and design. interactions 6(3): 38-43.

Overhill, H. (2012), J.J. Gibson and Marshall McLuhan: A survey of terminology and a proposed extension of the theory of affordances. Proc. Am. Soc. Info. Sci. Tech., 49: 1–4. doi:10.1002/meet.14504901340

Week 8 Blog Reflection (Think-Aloud Exercise)

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

As the user (Task #3: library website)

The prototype (Sydney University Library website) is not very user-friendly, with unfamiliar hyperlinks and lots of it, hence there will be a lot of possibilities to navigate to the wrong page. The prorotype also gave me a new insight about an unfamiliar feature of the website, which I never knew existed. Besides that, testing this prototype also gave me an idea about the site’s function to sort out the contents based on the various subject fields.

As the evaluator (as the recorder & administrator)

As the evaluator, I found out that the first protoype (ticket booking site) does not have any ‘book’ button to the specified event, whether it was because the tickets are sold out or has to be purchased elsewhere outside the venue’s website. There was no clear information on that on the website, so our tester had to improvise by booking another event. Whereas for the second task (finding the cheapest tablet), the prototype showed a flawed search filtering function, which turns out to be causing a frustration to the tester who had to redo the search from the very beginning. For the fouth task (taking a course online), the prototype was functioning fairly properly, so our tester managed to accomplish her task without much difficulties.
What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?

As the user (Task #3: library website)

Navigating the massive Library website of Sydney University, which I have been using quite regularly, turns out to be not as easy as I thought it would be. Especially because the task involves navigating function which I’d never used or thought about using before: searching article of a certain topic on Google Scholar. The thinking aloud technique was not familiar to me, so at the beginning, I found myself talking very little, because I was focused on performing a rather difficult task on a not-so user-friendly interface. So much so, that I needed help from the task adminisitrator who was giving me instructions.


As the evaluator (as the recorder & administrator)

The technique worked well in allowing me as the observer to notice the fluctuating emotions of the subject while performing the task. What I previously would not notice such as facial expressions, body language, and other non-verbal cues. The technique is quite challenging as it requires a pair of keen eyes and ears to observe the subtle changes that the subject expresses. But luckily with the aid of the  form, this was made simpler, although filling up the form itself, posed another challenge of itself, because the form’s quite complex and unfamiliar.

Processed with MOLDIV

Blog Reflection Week 7 (Bodystorming)

How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?

According to Bihanic, in bodystorming, ‘the interaction is acted out in scenarios of use and special attention is devoted to the physical dimension’ (Bihanic, 2015). We acted out the experience of sitting and sleeping in airplanes. Using the available chairs in the classroom and came up with all sorts of problems from the most obvious one such as uncomfortable and cramped seats to being annoyed from the forceful tapping of the touch screen by the passenger seated behind us. As well as the latent problems such as the problem of snoring passenger, body or feet odour, crying children on board. These problem did not present itself immediately when we acted out the activitiy using the available artefacts, but it helped us to imagine the actual setting. Bodystorming also helps to familiarise the unfamiliar experience, thus is easily remembered and often times inspiring the participants to think outside the box.


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

We defined our problems and proposed a set of solutions as follow:Processed with Snapseed.solution

Both illustrations above by our classmate: Gizem Kurangil


  • Other passengers taking up space when reading normal-sized newspaper
  • Passenger seated behind tapping the touch screen entertainment system forcefully
  • Crying or restless children
  • Soring passengers
  • Intermittent announcements from the central AV system, that some passengers found to be intrusive
  • Odour problem (especially in long flights)


  • Carbon padded foot rest to absorb feet odour
  • Cushioned head gear with additional Virtual Reality function
  • Install a massage pillow at the back of the seat fo the person sitting behind could rest their heads on it.

What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

When carrying out bodystorming, we have to be quite imaginative, to allow our imagination to run free and be able to envision the actual setting in a limited environment. It is this best applied for designing what’s accessible and familiar to the designers.

Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

If the activity that’s being acted out is an everyday scenario, it will not be much of an obstacle. However, if the scenario that’s being acted out is a more complex setting, then it would pose a logistical issue. For example, if the bodystorming is about the experience of a pilot when flying a plane, then there needs to be


  • Bihanic, D. (2015). Empowering Users Through Design. Switzerland: Springer. Retrieved from
  • Oulasvirta, A., Kurvinen, E., Kankainen, T. (2003). Understanding contexts by being there: case studies in bodystorming. London: Springer. Retrieved from:

Blog Reflection 06 (Poster Presentation & Peer Review)

This week, we did a peer-to-peer review about each of our research reports. Each of us, in groups of 4-6 people, took turns to present our posters and then as the audience, we would write our comments / questions / feedbacks on post-it notes.


For my research report, I received a number of constructive and critical feedbacks from my peers. And my own responses have been recorded as above. To briefly summarize:

  • One of my peers pointed out that he/she didn’t know that one could be fined for the possession of electronic cigarette(s) before 2016
  • One suggested I look into an interesting program developed at YALE, called ‘cravingtoquit’
  • One suggested that I look into Positive Reinforcement method to encourage smoking cessation; a very sound advice, in my opinion and would actually work best in tandem with the Negative Reinforcement method for Initial Concept #1
  • One asked if I’ve thought about way(s) to engage more male respondents

In general, I received quite positive feedbacks for the report, however, I realize that my work is far from perfect and that with all these suggestions I received and I shall work upon, hopefully will improve my work to make it more solid.


Blog Reflection 05

Imagine that you were one of these extreme personalities: a selfless Samaritan, or an extremely hopeless Romantic, an extreme Trekkie / sci-fi fan or an extreme Money-Spinners. How would you, extreme in your own qualities, approach a design challenge?

So in groups, we worked on this and my group chose to be an extreme Sci-Fi fan, so our imagination, practically, is our only limit. And how would an Sci-Fi worshipper approach a design challenge to improve the good ol’ fashioned telephone booth? This is where things got interesting.

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

Placing myself in the Extreme User’s shoes, makes me think of the unthinkables, the impossible. It actually enables to imagine unrealistic things, no matter how crazy they might be. But it’s not always a bad thing or a mere pipe dream, because if nobody ever dreamed of going to the moon, Neil Armstrong would not have made history. I personally find it empowering, albeit temporarily. So for this task, I actually imagined myself living in an alternate universe, way in the future, where people “live” through their avatars. These life-like avatars could be controlled remotely by the actualy user who rests in a pod like controller. So the story goes that an extremely wealthy but old and diseased business man owns an avatar that performs his daily tasks on his behalf. His avatar is a projection of his ideal self, young, athletic, hadsome, tall, sculptured and successful. While in the reality he is successful, his physicial limitations are slowly gnawing the life out of him. Ironically, while the technology has become so advanced to create such technology, nothing could slow down a crippled and slowly cancer-mutating body.


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

Yes it was different. Being my own version of an extreme character makes me think of all possible uses for the telephone booth and since I am only limited by my own imagination, my ideas were for the rebirth of the telephone booth were literally endless. Some of them might actually have possible design feasibility, some might not, which can be sorted out when or if the project is actually executed.

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?

Yes, the “storyboard” massively helps me to communicate my seemingly absurd idea with my team. Visual aid is indeed very helpful and thus, I often find myself envying those who are blessed with the talent of drawing / painting.


Blog Reflection 04

A. Reflective Listening

For the first exercise, I paired with a classmate, Tom Fulcher. We took turns to interview and listen to each other and we chose different topics to talk about. Then and there, I realized that I quite enjoy listening and I often prompt with open ended question, sometimes to try and make the conversation going on, sometimes purely out of curiosity, because I am quite inquisitive in nature. In reflective listening, I tried positioning myself in the speaker’s shoes and try to see and perceive the external world the way the speaker would. It helps very much for me to be unopinionated and polite and not interject the other person’s speech.

As a speaker, I believe I am quite a confident speaker, that is, for topics that I’ familiar with or with things that I won’t mind sharing. While speaking, my brain keeps racing in the background to find and interesting topic or unusual way to portray my message. It is actually quite pleasureable to engage with the person we speak with, who would intently listen to what we say and respond with appropriate prompts.

B. Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

For this exercise, I remember watching a few minutes long (mundane) video of  waiting for a train to arrive at Circular Quay station and a video of sitting in a bus. It would be quite boring to experience it, but sitting in the lecture theater and trying to imagine myself being in the person’s shoes, gave a rather interesting insight. Beause we take daily experiences for granted, that is only human nature, with so many things and stimuli going on around us, if we are not filter out what we receive, our brains will probably be shorted due to over-processing.

After watching the video, we were supposed to write, without thinking, whatever we observed in the videos. Because we are so cultured to think before writing, I actually find this exercise rather difficult! And by watching the seemingly boring activity through other people’s eyes, I actually paid more attention on small details than I normally would. Other than that, we were also required to fill in the following form, one for each experiences. And yeah, I imagined being hungry in both scenarios LOL.wk-04-1

c. Empathic modelling

The last exercise involved trying to place ourselves in the shoes of a visually impaired person. So, we wrapped our glasses and camera on our phones with a piece of cling wrap, so it becomes blurry.

It was a good exercise to visualize what a visually handicapped person experiences in his / her daily life, seeing the world in blurry images, unable to enjoy the details with as much details as they should be with perfect eyesight.

Experiencing the normally familiar lecture theater from an unfamiliar perspective actually slowed me down significantly, as I had to be careful with my steps, trying to avoid subtle objects that may look unlcear in my ‘new’ field of vision. I notice that it heightened my sense of hearing, albeit to a little extent, but the human body adjusts to changes in order to help us survive. Sound and colour are very important cues to help us identify our location, so when one is handicapped, the other adjusts to become more sensitive to receive stimuli from the external world.

Relying on only our sense of orientation can be misleading often times, because the mind plays trick on us and it can be quite fatal. For example, if a diver only rely on his sense of direction underwater, without actually having a device to tell his depth, he/she might just accidentally swim deeper into the abyss instead of up to the surface. Everyday interactive scenarios do rely on perceptual cues beyond sight, although I’d say, they’re still primarily visual, because we can still listen to music, and disconnect ourselves from the world, while still going about doing our activities normally.

Summary Poster-etjo2587.jpg

Blog Reflection 03 (etjo2587)

In this week’s tutorial, Claudia guided us through an exciting activity of creating a Persona Template to represent users.

Mengwei personal template by Ellyna Tjohnardi

First things first, a Persona is a “fictional, generalized representation of your typical customer, based on your customer data”. (Riemersma, 2015). It is a useful tool to visualize the target or ideal customer or user of a product or service that you are developing. Once this ‘typical’ user has been captured in essence, the developers can then determine many things, including even predicting potential shortcomings in the future.

Describe your experience of creating a single persona from different users’ perspectives gathered in the interview data.

So firstly, we made a group of 4 people, who would interview each other to acquire 4 different profiles. Next, we were created a list of variables based on the data we acquired, such as age, gender, cultural background, motivations, goals, etc. We categorized the variables into continuous variables (eg: age, from 0 to 100) and discrete variables (eg: gender, male or female). After which, we filled in the variables with the names of the individuals that fall into that category. Since my group members are: Sarah, Grant, Vicky and myself (Ellyna), we used each of our initials for recording purposes.

Our group members’ personas, compiled

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?

Of the 4 members in our group, the most commonality was shared between myself and Vicky (as seen above, in circle oranges, E & V), and there were enough of them to generate a coherent persona. Whereas the other groups (G&V or S&E), do not share as strong commonality to generate a coherent persona, so there was no reason to create a second different persona.


In the end, this is the typical persona that our group generated.

Mengwei personal template by Ellyna Tjohnardi
Photo: personal archive

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

The above was just a d.i.y. persona template that I made myself, using what information that we managed to capture from the Persona Template in the tutorial book. Judging by the looks of it, our group did quite a good job in capturing a realistic and detailed persona using the template provided. Although I believe, if we were given the chance to interview more personalities, we would be able to capture more variables / commonalities to create a more comprehensive and detailed persona.


  • Riemersma, F. (2015). 11 Persona Templates for Starters and Where to Download. Retrieved from

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