My research report was based around the idea of enhancing the social relationships of university students with international backgrounds through the events organised outside of university led functions. Having come from an international background myself, I personally find it challenging to often relate to people in some aspects, because I see myself affected by two very different cultures that change the way I think and act. For that, I sometimes find it challenging to connect to people, and people find it challenging to connect to me. And other times, it is just that I miss the sense of familiarity that I gain through spending time with people who share the same or similar background culture as I.
For that, I decided to conduct a research, mainly to see if people actually felt the similar way as I did. And more often than not, through semi-structured interviews, my results were looking positive. It was time for me to develop my brief further and seek a better aim. So I looked into my data. Through my insights, I have gathered two key issues that my users often faced (two key issues that I personally experienced myself as well):
- People with international heredity often rely on internet and social media to connect with their homeland and often find it not suffice they way they only share so limited information, and most of the time, that information given is not necessarily the kind of intimacy the user is looking for.
- People with international heredity often situate themselves into university led cultural societies to connect with people who seek the sense of familiarity with people who share the same culture. However after exposing themselves into this cultural group for a while, they seek more, and wish to create a social group who will be available through uni led events but would remain to be in the users’ social network to socialise outside of these uni events as well.
Upon finding these insights, I came up with two basic concepts: both somewhat a social network product, catering for the needs of my users.
In my first concept, I take on the issue of the lack of information today’s social media networks deliver. In the proposed product, the issue of time difference, a singular medium to find multiple news about the homeland and deliver multiple videos and schedule the sending time to be delivered to those within the time frame that both the user and the user’s relation who lives in overseas share.
In the second concept, the issue of finding a social circle outside of uni with those who share the same culture is tackled. Like tinder, the location algorithm as well as the suggestion list allows the user to see people from the cultural society they belong to, even the ones that are from different universities than the one the user attends.
How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?
This exercise was strangely informative in regards to how to process through a clustering of information given to you to find the most concise learning. Although time consuming, this exercise enabled me to create empathy through putting myself into the interviewee’s shoes and ask myself the question, “What would I mean by saying that?”. Through this method, I found myself seeking further meaning from the interviewee’s words, and try to create a deeper understanding from what they were trying to say.
How did the clustering of information help you understand user needs?
The clustering of information in actuality, did not help me understand the user’s needs. However seeking deeper meaning from the clustering of information, and try to come up with an explainable one sentence points from what we read made me understand the user needs further.
Through this exercise I came to a realisation that, the clustering of information gained through questionnaires or interviews are not going to give the answer one might seek as a designer unless the said designer seeks through the mount of information and finds what they have been seeking. In that regards, the “clustering of information” was only a beginning process for me as a designer to help me understand the user needs.
What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?
It was fairly difficult for me to come up with one sentence headings that would collectively identify the different thoughts and informations I have gathered with my team mates in the yellow post-its. The headings that collected similar thoughts and ideas had to have a one sentence explanation that couldn’t be too vague, and it was highly challenging to collect the ideas from various interviews and find common groups for each of them with the given time.
Thus if I was to change one thing about this exercise, would be to give further discussion times with the team-mates in order to come up with the common groups of information in a more constructive and understanding manner.
How is this sketch-noting technique different to the traditional note taking?
Sketch-noting is a very different yet a familiar field when it comes down to my note-taking habits. I am a type of person who likes to communicate through visual cues to begin with, so at first, I actually didn’t think that it would be that hard to sketch-note a TED talk. How wrong was I! Through this activity, I came to realise how much I require the aid of words in note-taking and not enough visual cues.
It was very weird for me at first. For me, in order to sketch, you need to see what you need to sketch. In traditional note taking, I often listen through the lecturer/talkers’ points, and write them down in dot point format, and if I get to see a diagram or an illustration that I deem important, I quickly sketch that through into my notes. In this instant, it was sketching the points that were being made in the presentation, as well as the visual cues given to you to further support the context. In the beginning it was hard to sketch and watch at the same time.
How does this visual approach facilitate communication of your ideas? Conversely, how does it prevent it? Personal challenges as a sketch-noter.
Later on through the exercise, however, I in a sense developed my own technique in sketch-noting. Instead of wasting time, watching the content, I just listened, and started taking notes of the words spoken to me onto my piece of paper. I realise that, if I was to do this activity again, I would navigate myself better on my field to sketch. But because I started off at a wrong-hand, I struggled orienting the information I needed to sketch.
This newly developed technique also allowed me to obtain the information in a better sense. I would just listen to the spoken words, and try to sketch them onto my paper, and I had to obtain the right information to sketch. Because I was seeking for the right information, the information that I mentally decided that needed to “sink in” I was understanding the content better, and wasting no extra effort in trying to note down the unnecessary information.
As I said before, my new technique of just listening to content, allowed me to take down the spoken information more fluently. However it also gave me a disadvantage. Since the given informative context to us was a TED Talk, I couldn’t get to see any visual cues that were presented in the presentation to further support the spoken information. Normally in traditional note taking, I would copy down the spoken words in word format, and sketch the visual elements in my notes. In this instance, I would have to seek vocal cues such as “As you see in this presentation…” to look up to see what the visual cue in the presentation is. And in general context, that is not the best method as the presenter might not always use such cues to talk about the visual element on his/her presentation.