IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Week 3 blog reflection – msil8319

This week’s tutorial focused on building personas according to sample data. We worked in groups of 4, took turns interviewing each other, shared findings, and ultimately used this data to construct a persona. Our scenario involved using public transit here in Sydney.

In my experience, interviewing 4 people does not provide enough data to create a robust persona. From our 4 interviews, we had the start of 3 different public transit personas. Key variables included frequency of travel, whether the individual was a ‘local’ or ‘visitor’, and perceived convenience, mostly related to the suburb where the individual lived. However, there was not enough commonality to be able to really trust the persona’s accuracy or use those personas to make product decisions.

Ideally, a persona would be a blend of 6-7 interviewees. In instances where enough data was not available upfront, I might construct a persona with data available and then run follow up research to further iterate and validate on the starting point.

Personas are a great tool in building empathy during the design and development process. In using personas at work, we refer to them by name and have spirited discussions around ‘whether Jane would actually do X’. It’s a great way to drive discussions and ensure your product or feature is being developed for the right audience. Additionally, personas can be used to construct scenarios and testing criteria.

[image coming soon once space is made available.]

Week 2 blog reflection – msil8319

In this week’s tutorial, we read user interviews in an effort to build empathy, identify pain points, and begin to thematically group user needs and motivations.

We began by reading transcripts of the interviews and highlighting key points. Focusing on frustrations, needs and motivations allowed me to get into this particular user’s headspace and understand more about how he likes to travel and plan, as well as circumstances that caused him to have a less than ideal experience.

Next, we wrote key ideas down on post it notes and shared with group members who had read different interviews. As we read out our notes, themes began to emerge, and we clustered like notes together. During this sharing process, we clustered and re-clustered the notes as we refined the themes.

We then used the groupings to create over-arching “I statements”, in order to take on the voice of the customer and really build a shared understanding. Lastly, we moved like themes near like themes and then gave these larger groups headings. With more time available, these headings would allow us to quickly summarize the research and begin brainstorming possible design solutions for these problem spaces.

Working in a group and listening to points from a spectrum of users is extremely helpful when trying to create or refine a new product. I especially love how an isolated comment can grow into a complete theme when feedback from other users is also pulled in.

The challenge with doing this in class was mostly due to the time restriction. It felt a bit rushed, and I would have liked the opportunity to sit with the downloaded info and do another round of the groupings at a later time.

This method of synthesis following user interviews is one I’m familiar with from my work experience. It’s a great way to get the whole team involved and ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the user needs. At work, we might spend several days doing this kind of exercise, grouping and re-grouping the notes until we’re sure we have the right themes. We often do this in a public space and allow members from the wider team to contribute as well.


Week 1 blog reflection – msil8319

Sketchnoting is a style of visual note-taking, often used during workshops and at conferences. It is a more graphical way of representing and mapping the content of the talk. The process of sketchnoting can be fun, plus you’re left with engaging artifacts for colleagues or classmates to enjoy.

Sketchnoting involves planning you canvas space, listening to the content, processing the key concepts and drawing. As I’m not used to sketching regularly, I found it difficult to do all 4 parts of the sketchnoting process AND keep up with the pace of the content.

Some notes on my experiences with the sketchnoting exercises in our first tutorial:

Take a pencil for a walk. I tried to mimic the rhythmical variations of the poetry with my pencil movements.

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Draw office objects and emotions. The objects came a bit easier to me than the people. I’ve done a number of exercises before to represent emotions on faces, but I found sketching the whole body (even with lines) a challenge.

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Draw people doing things. This was tough! I switched from lines to circles, but still struggled to feel comfortable drawing complete people doing everyday actions.

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‘Live’ sketchnote a TED talk. I quickly fell back to my normal note-taking style, which uses lists, arrows, and other symbols to represent how concepts relate to one another. Despite the speaker talking about animals, people and sense, which provided plenty of opportunity for drawing, I wasn’t able to process fast enough and employ the new sketchnoting technique. My talk artifact isn’t as visual or fun as it could have been!


Sketchnote a process. Progress! Without the pressure of a live talk, I was able to plan and process the steps of my recipe to represent it a bit more visually than the TED talk.

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Final thoughts. Sketching is hard. And it definitely doesn’t come naturally to me. Add sketchnoting and sketching generally to the list of things to practice this semester!

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