How did thinking in terms of shots and scenes influence your approach to communicating your design concept?
Thinking in terms of shots and scenes allows me to express my concept in a vivid way. These certain scenarios could be used to translate my design concept and show specific information that I expect potential users to understand before use. Furthermore, this is a great way to put my design concept into real practice. It is no longer an abstract concept that I thought in mind, but a situation in which the product is being used.
What motivated your choice of storyline structure? Can you think of an exemplar from a film that uses the same structure?
At first, I did not have an idea about how to build the storyline structure. Therefore, I tried to answer the 6 basic questions ( what, who, where, when, how, why) and combined these information to find suitable storylines. To explicitly and comprehensively express our design concept and product functions, we decided to select three separate scenes that all happen in time sequence to explain the product. This reminds me of a Chinese movie called Love, which tried to describe 4 separate stories happened among 8 people in a parallel time.
What choices did you make about audience and style? Were they related?
With a clear target community, our group confirmed the audience as sport lovers who would like to attend professional exercising activities. Moreover, they should have confidence in modern technology. Then,in terms of the style, we hope to express our ideas in simple ways by providing direct visual experience, in which audience are able to imagine themselves using the product. Of course they are related to each other, the style of the video helps engaging the audience.
Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?
In this activity, I selected three objects which are comb, chopsticks in a box and tea cup. From those daily objects, I chose the comb to study its affordances. The comb is a relative big one, with many sticks on it to make hair smooth and relax scalp. I put it on the table, discarded its existing features and regarded it as a new object that I have no idea about how to use it. After a quick observation, I noticed that the object could be turned back with the sticks back down. With its sticks, it could be used as a scratcher, in which we put it on the skin and use it to scratch. Moreover, the sticks also allow it to be used as a cleaning brush which shares the same principle with the scratcher.
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.
Objects may have some certain features, such as its texture and colors. However, how could these features be used in different situations depends on users’ abilities as well as the addressed features of a design product. For instance, chopsticks are designed in pairs for users to manipulate through one hand. By wearing the gloves as a user, my ability has changed. The frictions between my hands and the objects that I want to manipulate may be increased, which made it easier for me to manipulate chopsticks. This further inspired me that how about design something that could increase the frictions between chopsticks and hands to improve the usability of chopsticks. Learning to work with affordances will do a lot help for my future design projects.
In the tutorial we conducted and participated in usability evaluation through user observations and think-aloud technique.
Comment on how you experienced the technique as both user and evaluator for each of the 2 techniques (user observation, think- aloud):What kinds of information and insights did it give you about the usability of the prototype?
Through user observations, I was able to record detailed facial expressions and other physical behaviors of the user, which is not likely to be found through other methods, such as questionnaires. These physical experiences are closely connected with emotional statues, such as satisfaction or anxiety. The collected information help me to analyze user feelings towards the product and further understand the usability of the prototype. However, when I was acting as a user, I felt quite awkward when people staring at me. These feelings may not be addressed as designers, as we normally pay more attention to the user testing results.
With regard to think-aloud technique, I received more accurate user thoughts when the user was trying to explain what he wanted to do. As he spoke out his thoughts, I was able to find unexpected features of the prototype. Similarly, as a user, I found it quite interesting to share what I was thinking, it helped me to generate my ideas towards the product.
What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?
Both techniques work well in recording detailed user behaviors that could be connected with further usability analysis. However, as the information appear at the same time that we had to observe and record, it was frustrating that observers may easily miss some slight movements while taking notes. Therefore, I believe it would be much more helpful to use a camera and take a video of the whole process in case of missing important points.
How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?
One obvious point that I noticed through physically acting out is that there are always unthought issues appear. We normally use brainstorming to explore ideas just in minds. However, once we physically act out the situation, the results of brainstorming are not enough. Another thing is that designers are able to experience the current situation of users by physically acting out, which is also an useful method to understand expectations and build empathy with potential users.
Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through bodystorming? In what way?
Yes, of course. Our group tried to deal with the airplane sleeping problem. We created the real situation in economic class and two of us acted as passengers siting on their seats. Then they further feel their seats and environment, while other group members observe their behaviors and think what could be the factors that affect sleep quality. For instance, just by looking up and leaning back, we found neck pillow and eye blinder could be important.
What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?
It is impossible for us to create the situation exactly like the real one due to the limitation of materials. So I always feel that I may have left something, but could hardly tell. For instance, the distance between seats in an airplane; the air condition; the sound and smell. Those are all hard to prototype and we had to use our imagination in bodystorming.
Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?
It is not suitable for all types of problems. Bodystorming may work well in real situations, especially those include role play, so that designers are able to completely immerse themselves into it, generate user requirements and figure out solutions. However, it is not likely to be utilized in interface design or other technical design problems.
I received the following notes after the brief presentation and short discussion. Some of them can be inspiring for my future design process and I would surely consider those suggestions.
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?
I think sometimes extreme users can be representatives of all kinds of normal users. Normally, they have both special needs and normal needs. Therefore, taking the position of an extreme user requires designers to use imagination, think problems from a bigger picture and include detail information about the potential user. The process has to be thorough and we should try to include as much detail as we could for a usable product. However, this is quite different from how I normally generate ideas. I would usually start from myself. Then, think about what kind of common issues will appear in my own situation among normal people and automatically leave out those extreme situations. The Extreme User Activity gives me a new method of generating ideas and empathy which I believe would work well together with other methods in the following design process.
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 provocation cards use simple words to invoke new ideas. Personally, I do not think it works well on me; as I still cannot successfully brainstorm after seeing those cards. Our group tried to use those words at the beginning; however, nothing came up into our minds and we gave it up at the end. With regard to the storyboard, I think it is an easy and clear way to present and synthesize ideas. The pictures are more interesting and easier to be understood. Not only can we present group ideas to others though story board, but it also provides us with a clear way to refine our thoughts.
Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise
a. Reflective listening
Reflective listening provides me with an useful tool to get connected with my interviewees and build up empathy with them step by step. It supports me to follow up with speakers’ talking pace during interviews; therefore, analysing their feelings and sensations from a better perspective. With different backgrounds and personalities, interviewers and interviewees may have different focuses over the same topic or the same question. I found that listening to others without any prejudgment and telling back through my own understanding is also a good way to discover missing points. The process is more about understanding rather than memorising and noting down the information.
b. Defamilliarisation of everyday reality
I feel so surprised in the defamilliarisation of everyday reality activity when it seemed that I was back in the real situation through those videos. Unexpectedly, it also reminded me of those tiny elements of feelings and memories, especially those I thought I would definitely forget after taking those transportations. I was told by the activity that the world is always more than we know. Even in some simple situations, we get more feelings than we thought we have. Therefore, getting unfamiliar with the familiar things is a great way to find new experiences, discover new trends and create new stuff.
c Empathic modelling
I have never thought about design without visual perceptions before this activity. It felt so weird when the world suddenly all blurred and I had to do things according to other senses, such as touch and smell. Apparently, it was not so easy to locate myself through other senses, let alone take trains or cook dinners. Then I suddenly realised the importance of putting designers into users’ shoes. There are always new things if we step out of our comfort zone and find an unfamiliar situation. Good designers are expected to step in new areas, understand users experiences and come up with creative solutions.