James Fehon, Apina Ahilan & Eleni Chrysafis
Going through Think Aloud technique and observations gave me an interesting view of some of the particular issues with our example sites – as well as the feelings and frustrations which are regular occurrence in online transactions.
The technique seems like it would take practice. While you don’t want a “expert test subject” because this would mean you’re not getting real information, you do need to support and explain the approach to the person you’re asking to think aloud. In a busy setting it can also be hard to detect responses and inflections in voice so the setting is also something that would be worth considering.
Jason was a fastidious, nerdy, geometrophile – and thinking through his perspective on an issue brought ideas that we wouldn’t otherwise have focussed on. Usually the process of using empathy is to imagine someone elses needs, but invariable sees your own experiences and priorities taking a large role.
The approach of using stories in particular was a great help, as the other designers in our team could each describe a scenario and add to the depth of the solution through articulating different needs, experiences or approaches.
We ended up with a geometric sushi generating phonebooth … not something we’d have typically designed if we’d taken approaches we were all familiar with.
Doge says: Such design thinking, very idea generating. Wow!
The Experience Prototyping workshop certainly got me out of my comfort zone – but that was after all part of the point of it.
Our group decided to tackle the challenge of sleeping in airplanes, focussing on the experience of red-eye flights. After a warmup got us thinking physically, The physical imaginations of setting a scene did actually start to help us feel and sense a memory we all had. It helped us to approach thinking about the problem in a different way without necessarily approaching things in a typical way.
We imagined the noises and pains that we would encounter, and began a divergent bucket list of product features for our “sleep helmet for long haul flights”. Our ideation was varied and additive (we didn’t cut things out too much by the time we ended the exercise, but testing the viability would be easily possible in another round of this activity).
It was possibly a little difficult to coordinate four people in through a bodystorming activity, as it involves physically instructing people to act out a scenario. It’s definitely a skill that could be developed.
I imagine that “experience” problems involving interactions in the real world would be the most suited to this activity.
Sustainability as a workplace conversation
Meet “Harried Harriet*”, the Persona we brought together by hearing a few public transport users experiences and finding common themes.
The experience of creating a single persona by merging different experiences recorded in interview data was both evidence based, and unstructured. We needed enough rigour to form the basis for the Persona and enough creativity / randomness to give Alex her quirky individualistic empathise-able qualities.
With a sample of six people interviewed we found enough commonality between two groups of 3 people to form two separate coherent personas. They’re were some clear trends in terms of time spent, daily activities and areas of residence. We gave our persona some other demographic details which conceivably could match these common attributes.
Alex is definitely like someone you probably have some memory of knowing, but isn’t yet a relatable persona. We probably need to describe her interests and motivations in life to make her a little less of an enigma. She’s a bit shy but some extra colour to the sheet should bring out her relatable side.
The affinity mapping exercise helped build empathy with the prospective user by producing a deep understanding of their thoughts process, preferences and needs. Through the process we were able to work hard to notice patterns, categorise comments and notes based on both stated and latent needs.
By clustering (and re-working clusters iteratively) we were able to examine and critique our own understanding of what we were discovering, probing deeper to test if there were other meanings than may first have been apparent. The group had different ideas of the best affinity groupings and by debating each others ideas we were able to find stronger groupings.
The process of clustering information was quite hard because of this back and forth, but the resulting picture of user needs definitely benefitted from it! If we were to do the exercise again I think an initial discussion of themes, and starting out by exploring a smaller set of categories would be useful. You could give an overview of the breadth of the themes uncovered in one interview before diving in to put everything up on the wall!
I found the sketchnoting technique quite different to traditional note taking. It required a different type of thinking while you listened, maybe a different kind of listening. As a visual approach it seemed to help facilitate communication of the ideas in a talk, but at the same time meant you had to try to keep up with the pace of new ideas being presented / building upon each other.
I think as you’re starting out it prevents writing down too much detail, so it can quite quickly force you to focus on the most salient points.
I’d probably need a lot more practice to produce useful sketchnotes, or need to use recordings to extend an initial framework. As I went through the sketching activities I found myself getting better with each work – so it’s definitely an activity that takes warming up, and requires regular time spent refining your style.
Sketchnoting looks like a good approach to presenting ideas as it quite simply and efficiently communicates concepts to someone new to a topic (or even to just sparks your own recollections of the important parts of a talk you’ve previously heard).