IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Blog Reflection 05 – jang7577

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?

For the design challenge, we had to explore the possible future use of the Telstra Payphone for a Romantic user. Taking the position of an Extreme User allowed me to express the wildest needs I could have, like going on romantic cruise dinners, helicopter rides and villa stays. It was different to how I would usually generate ideas and empathy, which are more general, typical and restrained in thoughts. Even for the wildest needs and desires I had, I could still design something to fulfil those needs. My group eventually came up with the idea of a “date booth”, where the user can have the ultimate date experience with a virtual partner. I realised that our design solution could fulfil the needs of other extreme romantics as well, as the design challenge also helped us empathise with other extreme users, being an extreme user myself.
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?

Yes, the provocation cards, stories and storyboards helped to link the different ideas that we had for our extreme users together and created a relationship, which would fulfil their needs. Creating a story helped us envision how each of our extreme users would interact with the design solution and meet their needs. Although each of us came up with a different user, we focused on one chosen user and were able to contribute to the storyline as we could empathise with his needs and desires. With each group member giving inputs, the design solution that we devised was also able to fulfil the needs of the other 2 extreme users.


Blog Reflection 04 – jang7577

1) Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise

a. Reflective listening

My interview topic for my partner was on the challenges of speaking English as a second language. As an active listener, I tried to capture every thought and empathise how my partner felt using the English language. In all honesty, it was challenging to relate to her feelings as I am a native English speaker. I guess if I was speaking another language, I would probably feel the same way too. I could agree with some of her thoughts, such as English being useful an international language for travel and for understanding what is happening around the world, and I reiterated her words to assure her that I understood her frustrations. Through this reflective listening exercise, I realised how effective it was in raising key issues that people may face during communication, which may be overlooked if we are designing for users in general.

My partner interviewed me on the things that I really enjoyed in life. what  As a mindful speaker, I tried to tell my story with as much description as possible, so that my listener can understand what I am saying. Knowing that she is not a native English speaker, I also attempted to narrate my story in a slower pace and expressed my thoughts with more emotions so that it would be easier for her to relate. Body language and gestures definitely helped with conveying my thoughts to her.

I would say that I am more comfortable as a speaker, as it is much easier to share a personal experience than to relate to another person’s experience, especially if it is something that I have never come across before. The exercise has taught me that being a mindful listener is important in the design thinking process to accurately capture the essence of the user’s needs, desires and frustrations for more effective design.

b. Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

In the defamiliarisation of everyday activities, such as taking the public transport, I could break down my feelings into smaller elements, elements that I never thought about before. I could feel physical sensations and thoughts coming back to me as though I was really taking the transport at that moment. The experience of writing almost without thinking populated random thoughts that came straight to my mind, which I could immediately note down on paper. This could be useful in capturing immediate needs and frustrations of users, which they might not remember if they were to be interviewed again on the same topic. I discovered that some thoughts were also translated into physical sensations, and targeting those physical sensations in design could potentially help improve user experience in the particular situation.

c. Empathic modelling

In exploring familiar places from an unfamiliar perspective, I realised that some elements in the environment were enhanced, such as colours and glare from lighting, and some elements were toned down, such as the outline of shapes. I could still feel a certain familiarity from the blurry images, but with reduced sight it is a little difficult to confirm my exact location. If I were to experience reduced sight while taking the public transport, I could still figure my way around e.g hearing the buzz of a train door, but would probably find it hard to confirm my exact location just relying on sound and colour alone. This exercise actually puts me in the shoes of a person who may have difficulty seeing, and could help me understand the needs and frustrations of the condition better i.e. what would really help the person see or navigate better. This is important in creating effective designs for problem-solving e.g creating a device that could aid in sight or navigation.


Blog Reflection 03 – jang7577

1) Describe your experience of creating personas from different users’ 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 to create a second different persona?

We conducted interviews with 6 people in our group on their trip to the supermarket.Just on the same topic alone, each interviewee had their own needs, preferences and perspectives for their shopping experience. Based on a number of variables, some individuals exhibited similar patterns and some were very different. Even with commonalities observed among the 6 of us, it was very hard to form a single coherent persona, as the similarities were seen in smaller groups of 2-3 people. Some individuals exhibited traits that were very distinct from the others,  therefore it made more sense to create a second different persona.

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

We managed to create a distinct persona and archetype of one of our interviewees – she enjoys spending time in the supermarket if she can find fresh quality food and brands, and is not bothered about price. The exercise was quite successful in helping us capture most of her shopping needs, desires as well as issues that she experiences in her supermarket trip. However, the persona created was very general and did not reflect a few other traits that she had indicated during her interview. Perhaps I would consider the other minor traits together with the general persona to form a secondary/sub-persona.

Blog Reflection 02 – jang7577

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

Reading through the interview and highlighting needs, desires and issues raised by the users have helped me identify the things that people would be truly interested in or be concerned about, where there is potential to improve upon for a better travelling experience. These are also topics that I have thought about during my own vacation trips and I can certainly relate to with my own planning, which I would personally like to improve as well for an overall pleasant travel experience in any place.

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

Within the interview text, there is plenty of information, and it is hard to interpret everything on its own. Some issues or problems may seem independent on first glance, but could actually be related to one another in terms of a single common need, desire or problem. Clustering the information has helped me decipher the bigger picture and critically identify the overarching needs, wants and problems that are present, which makes it much easier to approach and provides a start to problem-solving.

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

In affinity diagramming, there is a need to cluster information into related groups. Some information may seem related, and yet may be very different, therefore it is difficult to distinguish the relationship sometimes. There was also difficulty in finding the right words to describe the connection between the classified information. A possible way to overcome the difficulty could be to identify several similar key words within the clustered information, or add similar groups together to distinguish the information better.

Blog Reflection 01 – jang7577

  1. How is this sketch noting technique different to the traditional note-taking?

This sketch noting technique definitely involves more visualisation, imagination and exploration than traditional note-taking, which really taps into a creative side that I never thought I had to express ideas. It helps me digest contents in the storyline better, as compared to when I used to note things down word-for-word without really processing what I have written. Sketching makes me think about what I have to do to best represent ideas with simple drawings and does leave a stronger impression on me.

  1. How does this visual approach facilitate communication of your ideas? Conversely, how does it prevent it?

It creates interest and draws more attention to my notes, as compared to my usual written ones. It helps me express my thoughts in forms that I would best like to represent and could help my readers picture the ideas that I would like to convey.

This approach may also not work to favour as readers may have a different perception of my drawings and may not be able to interpret the storyline well just from sketches. In sketch noting, it is hard to indicate details, so parts of the storyline could not be represented in the notes.

  1. Personal challenges as a sketchnoter.

Having to process my thoughts about how to express ideas in the storyline through drawing, it takes up much more time and therefore I am not able to capture and represent the entire story. It is tricky for me to multitask listening and drawing at the same time. Sometimes the drawings may appear abstract or illogical in the end which makes it difficult to interpret, understand and review at a later time. Overall, I still feel that sketch noting is definitely a useful way to bring out my creative side to facilitate the communication of ideas as clearly as possible.


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