IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Blog 9.0 – Visual Storytelling: making an effective impact (kelc8327)

The wonders of telling your story through the use of visual tools/media can be powerful and very effective. It enables you to engage with viewers to help drive their emotion and interactions with what you trying to sell. This week, we were able to work with our project group, where we intend to make a video for our final submission.

1.How did thinking in terms of shots and scenes influence your approach to communicating your design concept?

It certainly helped  in order how we wanted to convey the message to our audience. With the different camera shots, the angles of your subjects play a big part in the construction of the composition of the visual piece you are trying to create. It can help to set the scene, provide the mood which all help to capture the audience’s imagination.

We focussed on the following guideline questions to help us create a story that resonates with our audience. They were:

  • What problem/need does your product solve? Interactive toy for a child with mental issues as well as our psychologist who would like feedback/data from the child.
  • Who is the audience for your video? Mental Health practitioners.
  • What style? video
  • What is the story or the message you are trying to convey? Emotive and one that provides hope to those with children with mental health issues.

Again, by following the creative process, step-by-step, helped to drive our message. It clearly demonstrated that it must be thought out in a methodical way, for the creators and the audience.

2. What motivated your choice of storyline structure? Can you think of an exemplar from a film that uses the same structure?

One the biggest drivers for this storyline, was to try and build curiosity for our audience, whereby in our story, the centrepiece of the story is the connection between psychologist in his/her office and the child at home. By using shots of their interactions, using the different camera angles (mid-shots, over the head, dolly zoom) it creates an affect for the audience whereby it keeps them actively involved and engaged.

3. What choices did you make about audience and style? Were they related?

I think that the biggest driver for our audience, is that emotive connection for families and children.  It was important that by using the different shots, and therefore the style, it ensured that we were able to portray the message in a fruitful, clear way.

Also, I think we wanted to pay homage to the aspect that it takes more than just an individual, it was building a holistic community of help for the child, as well as understanding the needs of mental health practitioners.

Blog 7.0 – Affordances, our visual clues and the pertinent negative. (kelc8327)

“…the term affordance refers to the perceived and actual properties of the thing, primarily those fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used. […] Affordances provide strong clues to the operations of things. Plates are for pushing. Knobs are for turning. Slots are for inserting things into. Balls are for throwing or bouncing. When affordances are taken advantage of, the user knows what to do just by looking: no picture, label, or instruction needed.” (Norman 1988, p.9, The Design of Everyday Things)

Capturing Affordances from everyday objects

  1. Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?

The good ole’ fashion toothbrush; easy, obvious design right. Everyone has one type or another, that we use with the recommendation that we brush our teeth twice a day. Too easy…or was it?

The toothbrush was an airline giveaway, which included a small toothpaste. It’s design is supposed to be small, light, with no bells and whistles. That was my assumption. The actual affordance was  to clean your teeth with. However, throughout the exercise, from step 1-3, each step brought a new found affordances, that to my own admission, I had not considered previously. Each step brought a different light to the design, even the most basic one.

For example, a perceptible affordance, was in the form of the handle; literally. The shape of the handle, even though a give away toothbrush has this little, oval shaped groove about 2 cm underneath that bristles. Plus, the back of the brush was curved as well. This was a perceived affordance, what I believe it should be able to do. Lo and behold, it actually fit my hand comfortably and easily. The combination of the two in terms of its actual and perceived properties (Norman, 1999), provides you with that different experience, whereby the relationship with the object is developed.   Perhaps, may have been different had the shape of the brush had not fit so nicely in my hand.

     2. 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 to work with affordances as a designer? Discuss this through  specific objects you explored in the exercise?

One of the best exercises, that we did, was to tape up my hands together, where I was instructed to take a picture on my phone. At first, the task seemed impossible, then what did amaze me, was the how quickly I adapted to the situation. With my thumbs out of action, I had to depend on both of my index fingers working, so I could pick up my device. Then my actions become almost methodical, in terms of moving the device, then finally taking a picture. It was not easy, and it took longer then it normally would have, but it was doable.

What the exercise did, was in fact, enabled me to see how the pertinent negative was so obvious. The pertinent negative is basically what did not happen, what wasn’t there, making something else obvious or true. In this case, by not being able to type or use my thumbs, I realised how my usage of the phone  is dependent on my thumbs being fully functional, then if the design is then flawed for that reason alone. From a designer’s point of view, I think that this is crucial as this starts a new chain of creative thinking that opens up another set of possibilities.

Even with the toothbrush, by placing foil underneath the brush, I could possibly see how there was perhaps a need to place a “drip tray” (tried to upload a pic but the gallery has no more space). At times, there can be dripping  from the foam and water. Not to say that this is a viable solution, however, it allows to you to question the current affordances as well possible improvements in the design.





Blog 8.0: User Evaluation Techniques (kelc8327)

The importance of evaluation techniques are crucial to human centred design, testing the usability, functionality and acceptability of an interactive system from the users perspective. It clearly shows where you “went right” and where you “went wrong” as a designer. In this case, it  was a rare opportunity whereby we could act as the user and the evaluator. Here we were using “User Observation” and “User Metrics” in terms of thinking aloud, user observation as well as System Usability Scale.

  1. What kinds of information and insights did it give you about the usability of the prototype?

Through the Thinking Aloud and User Observation techniques in class, it was very interesting to have the perspective of both sides. Both of the techniques helped to identify the positives, and the negatives  and at the same as time assisting you to effectively communicate with the user and be able to quantify the usability of the system.

As an evaluator, in the ‘Thinking Aloud’ techniques, the user is asked to verbalise their thoughts as they navigate through the system with designated tasks. It was an interesting take in understanding the reasons why they behaved with the prototype and their understanding of the UI. Sometimes it is not alway obvious to the designer, in terms of how the user behaves, organically and what they are taught in their interaction. You could pick up their misconceptions and you usually learn why users guess wrong about some parts of the UI and why they find others easy to use. I believe that this technique could be used in a lot of scenarios as an affordable, flexible and robust method whilst providing that allusive interaction with the ‘user’.

Also, in the user observations, as the evaluator, I was able to pick up more of feelings and frustrations from the user, not just in what they were saying. You could hear the littlest sighs and whether the body language was positive or negative. I like the form and felt that is was easier to record the information in terms of facial expressions.


2.What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?

As the users, I did that there was an unintentional pressure in trying to achieve the tasks and what the evaluators actually  wanted.  I felt that, in times, I was trying to please them and meet their goals, rather than my own. I think that this can be a unnatural situation for some people, and you tend to get a filtered response due to this.

Also, I think that the role of the evaluator is important. It is important to try and remain quiet and let the user do all the talking. In one case, as the evaluator, I had to prompt the user as they were not thinking aloud. Even though that is required, I think that you can guide the user too much and add a certain amount of bias to what they are saying.

Both techniques had their benefits in evaluating the prototypes. I truely believe that it was the combination of both methods that enabled you to grasp the full thoughts and feelings of the user whilst using the prototype. I think that using one technique over, would not have achieve the best results. It certainly would have given you one perspective, but using both,  helped to mitigate any unintentional biases.

I also found frustrating trying to balance your observation of the user and recording the information in a useful and fruitful way.



Blog 6.0: Prototyping & Interaction Design Methods – Bodystorming ideas and the likes. (kelc8327)

One of many aspects that features in our Design Thinking course is, that if we are to design and solve problems based on the human perspective, we need to use methods and techniques which allows us be emerged into people’s full experience, depending on what they are doing. Bodystorming is one such technique; one that embraces the physical space,  incorporates ideation and in a sense, sets out our prototyping. It gives us insight and credence to the design process.

1.How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?

Physically acting out as a group scenarios and ultimately the problem was a way for us to work creatively together seeing ideas, rather than just hypothesising the issues.  It was quick, and a great way to visualise what the problems were, allowing us to quickly generate ideas. The behaviours, triggers, and problems of users are a lot more apparent and obvious to the problems we are trying to solves whilst we are acting out the situation. It also helps us to shortcut the workarounds and immediately identify what areas could be improved upon. Acting it out also helped us from overthinking it and making the wrong assumptions based on our own experiences.

I think, also, one of the key aspects, is that as a designer, it helps to create a sense of equality – it puts the user and the designer on equal footing. This is crucial in the human centred design process when building empathy for the user.  That is our main goal – the ultimate user experience. Likewise, group role-playing is a fun way to interactive with one another which ultimately creates a working, team approach to solving the problem at hand.

2.Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through bodystorming? In what way?

As we had to brainstorm our ideas at the beginning, we essential were making assumptions on the problems we had faced. In our case, it was the Doctor’s waiting room. Once we started to act it out, it allowed us to look at the those assumptions and see what the real issues were. It helped to refine our initial ideas as well provided a clearer path to actual solutions.

I think one of the most crucial aspects is the subtle issues that are not always so apparent until you are in the situation. In this case, the proximity of the chairs and the responses of people in that situation, whilst being ill and with their coping skills lacking. Also, how the reaction of the receptionist made all the difference to those waiting. Those little nuances allowed an emotional response, and to be able to witness the issue first hand.

Also, as we “in-situ”,  potential solutions to the problems faced are discussed, brainstormed and further refined right there and then. There is also immediate feedback which only enhances the ideation process with your group members. It is a quick and effective way to solve problems.


3.What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

With all the positives, there are always some negatives that need to be worked out. Working in a group can be highly beneficial, however, at times, it can be hard working in the group dynamics – different personalities, understanding between members, opinions, etc. Role playing can be outside of a lot people’s comfort zones and it can be hard to establish that level of trust amongst the group.

Another element that I felt was hard, was abandoning some of the pre-conceived ideas and assumptions that we had. I felt sometimes we were “locked-in” with those ideas that it inhibited us from following the process and allowing us to be open to any possibility.

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

Yes, I believe that this case. I think that this will only work in certain situations, ones that are  common  and ones that do not have social or physical issues for certain demographic areas, such as social problems, etc. We must be responsible with where we use it and there must be a level of commonality, one that we have on some level or another have experienced it. Also, it must be something that perhaps fits into a bigger picture, or more complex problem. I think there must be a layer of common sense applied to know that this may not work in all situations. I think it lends more to “group dynamics” where there are multiple variables that can be assessed. Individual interactions may not create the same outcomes.


5.0 – Ideation. From Extreme Users to Storyboarding; a way forward in the creative process – kelc8327

Extreme User – The Trekkie
Edwina is a 28 year old woman, living in Silicon Valley. She is very interested in sci-fi movies and all things robotic. She is a talented programmers with a keen interest in exploring new technologies. Another one of her hobbies is learning all about space and definitely believes that “there is something out there”. 

I work in in IT. A highly structured environment, organised line by line where process is tightly coupled with outcomes. On the flip side of that,  the presumption is that creativity is ad hoc, chaotic and only comes in inspirational waves – if you’re lucky. Thus far, throughout this course, it has become clear that creative work, in all of it’s form, is very much a process; one that must be trusted and followed to enable you to form ideas, options and in the long run, the best user-centric solution.

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?

Through our Extreme User, Edwina, she gave us a medium to tell our conceptual narrative – a way to convey our ideas. The user of extreme users is a way to open your mind into a way of thinking that enables to you to design for any solution. It helped to expose myself and perhaps the team, to the possibilities in the challenge and how far we could take it with our user audience in mind. This included factors that would have never been considered previously.  The idea that if you can design for the “Extreme User” in terms of their excessive needs, then you should be able to design for all. With that said, I think that it is still equally important to  map out the average user’s needs as well for the sake of a control and getting breadth with the problem at hand. However, that ability to push the idea further (to the extreme) will again assist in the making sure that you will cover all your bases.

With the risk of sounding vague, it was similar but different in previous ways of generating ideas. Similar techniques were used, however the difference this time was that ability to take to another level within the process. Typically, I have always played safe and to focused on the needs of the majority. Even in my line of work in IT, it seems always to be the logical approach. However, it is always those unusual cases that can cause the most havoc later on and I now come to the conclusion that this could have been a direct result of not considering the needs of the extreme user. This way, this technique will expose those needed insights, work arounds and perhaps a fresh perspective in the initial designs.

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?


Storyboarding. Ironically, this was the technique that assisted me in thinking more laterally. I say ironically, because it was actually more difficult to think that way with a technique, that in one way or another,  that displays linearly.

Let me explain.

Storyboarding is a useful, visual tool to focus your thoughts and a way to present your the initial phases of ideation/concepts to your audience.

After using the post-it notes to let our group “flow” with ideas for the design challenge of the use of pay phones in 30 years. Ideas came and went in terms of what we we thought the pay phone of yesterday would turn in to – technology in our skin, chips behind the ear, holograms, physical places where people could use it, blue light, popping up in front our eyes, not just a phone but a link to all things a mobile phone offered, voice activated, etc. The list went on and on. This flow of ideas helped the creative process. It gave Edwina wings.

We were then asked to storyboard our findings inclusive of our extreme user. This technique was very useful purely in helping to organise the different pieces of the puzzle. By using a maximum of 6/7 linked it sketches, it cut a lot of the clutter from my thought process. It “edited” our flow of ideas helping us to compact to the “Tele-Stop” loosely based on  the game Pokemon-Go.  The story could then evolve.

Storyboarding helped our group and me, as an individual to:

  • highlight the relevant parts meaning what part of the story would be most useful in conveying it to your audience.
  • Focus those pertinent points. The audience does not need to know every little step.
  • Minimal use of text was needed but I believe it should only be used subtly to make a point.
  • as the designer to see if the concept or idea might even be feasible. My thinking was that if I cannot convey or sketch the idea to an audience, then perhaps it is the wrong idea.
  • create a bit of fun and care into the challenge. I believe to “sell” any concept, you must be have a certain level of belief and care which must be shown through ideation and the creation stages.
  • Likewise, it was an open, creative way for us to work with our fellow team members to try and produce a great outcome.

Again, one thing was clear, was to trust and follow the process. It will lead you to a better design solution.

Blog 4.0 – Foundations of human centred design – Listening, Defamiliarisation and Empathy – kelc8327

Coming from a communications background, I was always taught in the field that the key to winning the hearts and minds of your audience boils down to two pivotal, high-level aspects in the delivery of your messaging. They are: 1) Emotive and 2) Clarity/Transparency.

In order for you audience to be able to connect with what you are trying to create/sell, they must first see value in for themselves and secondly, it must be simple and clear so it “just makes sense.” From our 4th tutorial, this hands-on experience  felt familiar but provided more depth and a broader understanding of these two aspects in the early stages of the design. It was about understanding and seeing it purely from the user’s eyes and never making assumptions, in order for you to create items that the user sees benefit in.

Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise

a). Reflective listening. 

This should be easy, right?! Talk to someone about an interesting, personal topic, then listen and reflect, clarify on what they are saying….nope. Not so easy after all. I found throughout the process, it was extremely difficult not to ask questions repeatedly and not engage in a full conversation.

This is clearly an acquired skill, one that takes time, repetition and a level of patience to do it well. If you can do it well, the benefits are clear. It enables you to understand the person you are listening to whilst at the same time through clarifying the process, it assists them in simplifying their thoughts and how they are communicating it. Plus, in all of these cases, it provides the individual with a platform for their views to be expressed. Everyone likes to be heard. It is an empowering process and from the outset, allows them to be a part of the design process from the beginning.

Moving forward, there are a few things that I would like to personally work on in order to develop this skill for further use.

  1. Talk less, listen more. Harder than you think when engaging with another person. Our instinct is to respond and fill in the gaps.
  2. Silence is ok as it can be important to the thought process for both parties. As awkward as it may be, it is important. As the listener, by speaking, you can cut off important thoughts and impose a certain bias on what they are about to say.
  3. Relate  to the speaker, pick up on the personal aspects that could provide that emotive input. I think this crucial in making an emotive connection to someone else, this is where you reach a real understanding of them.

b). Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

“Defamiliarization then is a literary technique and can be used as a method which calls into question our usual interpretations of everyday objects. In HCI, one example of defamiliarization is the user of extreme characters (Djajadiningrat et al. 2000) or designing applications for the viewpoint of a particular, idiosyncratic, and unusual user…the are argue that such design strategies uncover and alter underlying assumptions about users built in applications, suggesting new options for design that may be useful or interesting even for normal users. (p. 154)”  – Djajadiningrat et al. 2000 cited in Bardzell, J. and Bardzell, S. (2015). Humanistic HCI. San Rafael, California: Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

The daily grind of using public transport in a large city, affects us all. It is something we just get on with as it a part of our everyday reality – it can be long, frustrating and tedious. As a result, you just try to shut off either with a book, music or you phone. However, in our tutorial, that view for me changed.

By watching the videos and having to reflect upon it, helped me to see this everyday activity, differently. It made you step back, take in and feel the sights and sounds of what was happening on the platform and in the bus. Sometimes, you could feel every bump, the frustration building in your stomach when someone coughed or stood too close to you. It helped you, as the designer to take something you may or may not take for granted and turn it into something different.

Reflections in all instances of understanding the users view point is just as important in the process. It helps to formulate your thoughts and how best to document it. The creative process, which although at times may seem ad hoc, following its process is of equal importance.


Challenging the status quo in our perceptions is what a designer should do. If we are able to see it a little differently, reflect upon this, we could perhaps use the mundane and create something extraordinary by simply looking at it a contrasting way.

c). Empathic modelling

To really understand the user, we have to understand their frustrations and their feelings in everyday situation.

This techniques helps you, as a designer, to stimulate an impaired users’ world. In this case, the class, by adding a small piece of cling wrap, we were able to tap into a visually-impaired viewpoint for a short time to have (somewhat) of a  personal understanding of what they possibly see and their subsequent feelings. This ultimately helped to create a further awareness of some of the issues they face and their solutions to having blurred vision.. I think that the difference here though and we must keep in mind, that this was only temporary and even still, it can be quite different from those living with it all the time.

The first task, I believe also ties into defamiliarisation of our everyday items. By creating our own empathy through this technique  of simple objects, that we perhaps take for granted, became modified. The clarity of the object becomes less, from its shape to colour has been altered. Even things that may be of little importance to us in terms of branding or other identifiable objects are blurred. As designer not only does it help to gain a further understanding but it helps to build the foundations of a possible solution

The best part of this exercise was walking down the hall way to with blurred vision. It was amazing to see how my behavior changed whilst walking. I found that I was extremely reliant on the sound of fellow students and  how much more I was aware of the reliance I had on the “blurred” people in front of me. I also used the light as my guide as well as touch to assist in moving forward. This certainly took me outside of my comfort zone, increased my awareness of the issues but also of the possibility of designing effective design outcomes.

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