IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Blog Reflection 06 Experience Prototyping

1) How did physically acting out help to explore ideas

For our group, we chose the second scenario (sleeping in airplanes) for the prototype experience. There were 4 of us, and three people were acting as multiple roles (such as normal passengers, passengers carrying a baby, air hostess, etc.), and the other person taking photos of the prototyping process. There were issues listed by our group before the physical experiencing, however the issues were thought by trying to memorize our past experience. When we have the physical actions for this process, we were more engaged in the scenario, since more problems can be thought when we sat in this scenario ‘face to face’. Personally, problems such as having difficulty of a passenger who sits next to the window going to the lavatory were not thought about until I actually sat in the scene, as the this is not what straight comes to my mind when I think ‘the difficulties of sitting in airplanes.’


2) Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through body storming? In what way?

We did have solutions for each difficulties. When we listed the issues before had physical actions, we added the experience from physical experience for the solutions of each problem. For examples, there are air hostess waking passengers up in the morning while passengers might not like to be disturbed. To overcome this problem, a ‘notes’ idea is carried out, such that different colored notes symbolize different meanings, and the notes are placed close to seats of passengers, easy for the air hostess to see & know if the passengers want to be woke up or not. Personally I don’t think this well-considered idea could be carried out if we didn’t have any physical actions. So, our ideas and solutions were refined through body storming through the physical experience.


3) What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

There were a few difficulties and challenges of the body storming activity. Firstly, as we had the bodystorming activity in the studio, there were not enough props (such as chairs) to have the perfect scene condition. Secondly, as there were lots of students talking, the noises were ‘disturbing’ our group members to act well for the ‘sleeping scene’. Lastly, I think we could have more issues raised and their solutions done if we had more time.


The spaces for passengers to sleep are very tight



The space for a passenger is further decreased when

the passenger in front changes her seating angle



A baby is very noisy for other passengers


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

It does, especially for designers who do user-interactive design. For an example, the first problem our group raised was the lack of space for passengers to sit comfortably. More spaces and designs have to be designed was our initial solutions, and if I am the designer, then if I face problems like this, then better designs have to be made for the user-interactive designs. However personally I think it is only helpful for user-interactive designs, since the bodystorming activity is useless for a person to experience the physical scenario if the issue is something like ‘the colors of the columns of this room are not appropriate’. In conclusion, I think the bodystorming is really helpful for user-interactive design.


Blog Reflection 05 Ideating

(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?

The experience of taking the position of an extreme user improved my ability of imagining different users in different situation & scenarios. In the beginning we chose the Trekkies (sci-fi, high-tech) group, and wrote the story about the person as extreme as possible. At the beginning, I was lacking of ideas of what to write, as behaviors of the majority of my friends, including myself, are not extreme. However, when I position myself in this extreme person, I started to gain ideas of what this person can do. In fact, when I position myself in the set scenario, part of my brain became the brain of this person, and the crazy ideas jumped out of my mind were all the crazy things that I’ve only watched from other social network medias. Then after the story is completed, as I start to really consider this persona as a real person, I started to consider what this person actually needs in his life. Questions including ‘Will this person require standard home furniture in his own house?’, ‘Will he use common social facilities which others do?’ and ‘Will this person thinks he needs particular things to fulfill his interest?’ all jumped out of my mind. Personally, I think the ideas generated for ‘making’ this person and the empathy created are not so different to how I usually generate ideas and empathy, as in both situations I need to really consider myself into their scenarios. But in comparison, what is different for this activity is how this person may think in different ways than what people usually thinks.

(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?

As when we completed the story, the stories were shared between our group members. It was interesting to see what other group members wrote, and this sharing process also inspired me with other crazy ideas which I did not think of before. The process of drawing in storyboard really helped me to work through my ideas, as some of the ideas that created in my mind couldn’t be translated into words, but they can be drew on the page. The process of making the storyboard reminded me of the sketch noting that we did in the first tutorial, as the combination of texts and diagrams work really well in explaining some important ideas.

Blog Reflection 04 Empathy and Defamiliarisation

(1) Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise

a. Reflective listening

b. Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

c. Experience modelling

(a) For the reflective listing activity, my state of motion when listening differed to when I was speaking. When I was listening, I was trying to record as much notes as I can, since I don’t want to miss any information my partner said. As I was writing notes down, I could feel her emotion state when my partner was speaking about different things, as if I can fully understand the reasons why she said everything. In addition, while I was carefully listening to my partner, my brains started to put me into her position, empathy was built, not only with what she said, but also the change of her emotional states.

(b) For the second activity of defamiliarisation of everyday reality, the tutors showed the class two videos of situations with the public transports, then wrote notes without thinking and transformed the notes into certain forms provided by the working sheets. For the first video, several shots were used to capture the arrival and departures of trains in Circular Station, and memories of me getting on & getting off the trains at Circular Quay station evoked in my mind. When I was watching this video, I noticed stuff that I didn’t before: the pure blue of the sky, the beautiful colours of the cruises, and the beauty of the landscape. I just realised until then that as I usually get off at Circular Quay station in hurries, I didn’t experience the good things about Circular Quay. For the second video, the bus was travelling along the trip, with several stops at different places. When I was watching the second video, not too much memories evoked in my mind, however I had the feeling of myself sitting in the bus, as if I was travelling on the bus at the same pace. After the two videos, the writing without thinking made I wrote some sentences that didn’t make too much sense, however I wrote what were in my brain when watching those videos without any logical thinking, which symbolised my true feelings. The last step of fulfilling the form was easy. This activity allows me to have better visualisations of past experience, by watching a video that are in similar situations.

(c) For the activity of experience modeling, it was interesting at the same time challenging, since everything I saw was very blurry. During the photo-taking process, I took photos of the things that attracted me, and as I could not see those things clearly, their boundaries & shapes evoked my experience of seeing similar objects in the past. Boundaries, shapes, colors, sounds & sizes were some of the parameters that attracted me. It is very interesting that when I took the plastic wraps off my glasses, the objects that I took photo of were not the things that I thought they were during the photo-taking process. It can be said that evocation of past memories during the photo-taking process predominated my feelings & attitudes towards certain objects when I was unsure of what they were.

(2) Complement your reflections with photographs of the process

These were some of the photos taken during the experience modelling process:


A bag


A pencil case


A coffee cup


A person’s face


A person


(3) Include a scanned copy of your defamiliarisation forms (public transport)





Blog Reflection 03 Creating Personas

Describe your 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?

For this exercise of building persona, we started with interviewing different people in the group with different topics. However there were only 3 people in our group, so person A was asking about the experience going to supermarket to person B and person C, then person B was asking about the experience of using public transports to person A and person C, and lastly person C asked person A with the experience of going to the supermarket, and asked person B with experience of using public transports. After the interview, we made several intervals which variables are related to various aspects, in both ‘continuous form’ or ‘multiple-choice form’. The creation of persona out of the making of intervals are not too difficult, since we have done the similar stuff (which is the selection of ideas/parameters that have similar potential causes) from last week’s affinity diagram making, however the process of thinking which similar parameters can be categorised into certain categories based on the interviewee’s needs was challenging. To have a good persona built, I think it is important to have a little understanding of the interviewee’s attitudes of their daily lives and needs, such to build an empathy with them, thus making a better persona. Since there were only 3 members in our group, I have to say it is very hard to build a good persona, since there are always some similarities of parameters between 2 group members. In order to form a coherent persona, we had to carry out more broad range of parameters to be used for comparison. Personally, I think the more people in the group, the more difficult it becomes (since there are many parameters that are shared between different people), however the better persona can be built (since the persona is contributed by many parameters).



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

The persona that our group built was successful in generating empathy with the potential user, however not to a good extent, since there were lacking many parameters that can contribute to the persona. In order to make the persona better, personally I think:

  1. Have more people in the group, so there are more parameters to be used for comparison, and more the comparisons, the better persona will form.
  2. When carrying out the intervals, think more deeply into each parameters that have been mentioned in the group, so to create potentials of other parameters that shared the same idea (for an example, if the initial parameter is ‘what sort of stuff do you buy in supermarkets’ and food is an option, then another parameter can be ‘what kind of food do you buy in supermarkets’.) It may not seem very useful in the first sight, however it will help later in determining the categorisation of parameters.
  3. Concise ways of narrowing down the initial parameters.

There are certainly other things to improve, but personally I think these 3 factors are the most important ones to make a good persona.


Blog Reflection 02 Interpreting Data

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

In this exercise, we learned to make affinity diagrams. Firstly by reading an interview that focuses on travelling, the aspects preferred/hatred by the interviewer are highlighted. Because we had plenty of time, so the interview was read very carefully. During this reading process, it enables me to position myself in the interview’s perspective, as if I could feel the feelings of the interviewer as he talks due to the emotive language and slangs used. After reading for half an hour I wrote many observation on the yellow post-it notes. During this step, comments about the interviewer are re-phrased in the objective view, and I wrote the comments as short as possible, as I want to the comments to be ‘summaries’. By doing so, the re-phrase of sentences helped me with deeper understanding of the interviewer’s needs resonantly: as each of the comment is either positive, negative or neutral, it gave me a better understanding of the specific needs of the interviewer, helping me establish a better empathy with him.


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

During the later steps where the yellow post-it notes had to be placed in different categories using the blue post-it notes, and then place the similar categorised blue post-it notes in different categories using the pink post-it notes, so on and so on. When categorising the information, it enabled me to consider the potential reason of making that comment. For an example, the interviewer in the interview stated that he would like to know which places he should visit and what activities he should participate because he doesn’t have a choice when he isn’t advised of doing anything. From this statement, I know that a person like him will find his trip boring if he is on a target-less trip, so he must to have a good plan before his travel, and this allowed me to categorise this statement with the ‘Beforehand plan is needed'(his need), which can further be categorised down to ‘Better plan needed'(which is the potential need). In a similar strategy, our group sorted most of the yellow post-it notes down to categories, and the clustering of information allowed me narrow down a broad range of information to only a few categories, based on their potential needs.


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

It was very challenging for me as it was the first time for me making an affinity diagram like this. Personally, I think the most difficult part of this exercise we keep narrowing down the notes into less categories, as each ‘narrowing’ process was hard already. In order to successfully make an affinity diagram, I think the most important factor is knowing the potential need, from consistent thinking ‘why he/she saying this’. If I will make an affinity diagram next time, the things I will improve are:

1. Write the potential (first-round) comments as much as I can, without thinking any constraints.

2. When narrowing down the first-round comments into the first-round categories, think of why the user says this. Then for narrowing down the first-round categories into second-round categories, think in more detail why the user says the word/phrase summaried in the first-round categories. So on and so on.

3. If facing any difficulties, it is often useful to speak to my peers, as they helped me with making the affinity diagram during the last tutorial: they inspired me with something that I didn’t notice.

Blog Reflection 01 Sketchnoting

How is this technique different to the traditional note taking?
In traditional notetaking, I usually write as much as I can during the lecturer’s presentation as I don’t want to miss any contents. In traditional notetaking, I can obtain many new information, and easy to organise them as often re-read the notes I take. However, the disadvantage of doing so is that I dont have enough time to deeply think what the lecturer says (unless he/she stops for a little while). For sketchnoting, it allows me to well consider through the contents during the presentation, then record the central idea of the each aspect within the presentation using a more flexible way (as drawings have much more flexibility than  writings). So that instead of writing notes all the way through the lecture, sketchnoting is relatively a better way. However, as a starter of using sketchnoting, the thinking/reacting of ‘how shall I draw this figure’ also slow my mind down, which resulted me in missing many information during the last sketchnoting session during the last tutorial.
How does this visual approach facilitate communication of your ideas? Conversely, how does it prevent it?
Personally, I think using little drawings where necessary during a presentation will benefit me from no need to write too much information (pure writing) that constrains my thinking style. Little drawings sure will evoke my creativity, which can possibly make me want to continue focusing on the lecture.
In contrast, as I am not very good at drawings, make little drawings during sketchnoting will slow my process of recording information down.
Personal challenges as a sketchnoter
As a starter of using sketchnoting, there are a few challenges:
   1. Because my drawing speed is slow, so I need to make my drawing speed faster.
   2. Be familiar of the common drawing figures, such that I don’t have to use too much time on thinking ‘how to draw them?’
   3. More consideration (in contexts) of what things should I use drawing figures instead of taking notes.

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