IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Week 9 – Visual Storytelling (mtan3252)

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

Actually, what helped me the most was the WHO/WHAT/WHEN list in the conceptualization stage. It really helped me clarify the mush of ideas in my head, and make it relevant to an audience member who had no background knowledge of what our design solution was.

The need to make interesting shots and engaging scenes also influenced my approach by making me very conscious of making the storyboard fun to watch. This gave me a positive kind of pressure to think of a really good story that didn’t merely inform the audience of our product, but also brought them along an adventure of our protagonist’s day.


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

I used a flashback because I wanted the audience to see clearly the Before and After effects of using our product.

There are lots of films with flashbacks to build suspense and tension. Hitchcock is one such director. Contemporary films would include Oldboy by Park Chan-Wook (and his Sympathy for Lady Vengeance; both are stellar films!), as well as David Fincher’s Fight Club, which famously breaks the fourth wall by having Brad Pitt point out the ‘cigarette burn’ that occurs at the end of a film roll.

The storyline structure, with a flashback, becomes more interesting since the narration is non-linear.


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

The audience for the film limited the extent to which the film could be non-linear and wildly creative: after all, the aim of the film is to educate (in an entertaining way) the uses of our design solution.

The style was intentionally as “pretty” as possible. Healthcare as a topic can be unglamorous or overly clinic. Since our project included a beautiful garden setting, it would be a pity if we did not highlight its aesthetic beauty.

Week 8 – Evaluation (mtan3252)

This was a super fun exercise that was easy to get into, because the tasks were so specific and explicit.

As the user, I felt that it took effort to translate my thought processes into words that the evaluators would find useful. This was because I am not usually very…conscious of how I engage with objects or interfaces. In trying to be a helpful user, it taught me that the heuristics we bring to our everyday interactions are active decisions, even if they are subconscious and difficult to isolate.

Even though speaking my thoughts aloud wasn’t very easy, it definitely made me aware of object interaction. For users like myself, the non-verbal recording of my reactions was a good gauge of my response to the task.

I enjoyed being the evaluator more. It was easier to analyze the usability of the prototype without having to be the one using it.

As the evaluator, I could see very clearly where our user was experiencing obstacles in her usage of the STAPLES prototype. It helped that she spoke aloud out her confusion — we were able to prompt her to elicit her assumptions: she assumed the ‘Filter Results’ would be on the right side, and was thus disoriented when she couldn’t find it there.

We couldn’t always decide on how to fill in the questionnaire, e.g. “how many times did she frown? how many times did she squint at the screen? how many questions and frustrations did she have?” This was a tricky technique to work with.

As with many observations, evaluation is a subjective process. Perhaps that is why multiple evaluators are a good idea: so that their impressions can be aggregated.

week 7 affordances reflection (mtan3252)

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

Chopsticks! Initially, my mind was still relying on its instinctive perspective of chopsticks: your hands hold the chopsticks here (near the top) and the chopstick holds your food object here (at the bottom). I had been accustomed to dividing a chopstick into these two parts, the top and the bottom.

Exploring the chopsticks’ other capabilities, I made sure to also avoid seeing the chopsticks as another object, namely, a stick. It was easy to do so, since the chopstick is rigid and able to hold weight.

Through this exercise, I found that an object’s affordances can go beyond how we use the object — it is our mind and its mental blocks that prevent us from seeing these additional ways of usage.


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

It was instructive to see how differently Elektra, my partner, and myself handled our objects. Clearly, we had different ways of relating to the same objects, and I really learned to think outside of my own mental box by watching how she conceptualized the extra uses of our objects.

The insight I directly derived from the chopsticks was about aesthetics: simple tools are straight-forward in form and function, and encourage users not to fiddle or investigate any further.

As a designer, this exercise highlighted how different users would be able to perceive affordances with different levels of ease.

Week 6 reflection (mtan3252)

1) How did physically acting out help to explore ideas? 2) Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through bodystorming? In what way? 3) What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming? 4) Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?
(1) By getting up and moving around, by “getting physical”, our body being in motion somehow also enabled our mind to jog along. At the very least, physically acting things out helped us FEEL the constraints/difficulties of our situation (a waiting room in a clinic).
Physically acting out was also very helpful in letting us experience spatial limitations: for example, if I didn’t have to physically sit on our makeshift bench, I wouldn’t have realized how uncomfortable it can be to sit perpendicular to another ‘patient’, when the chairs are arranged so closely together that our knees touch!
(2) We actually had a very productive conversation prior to bodystorming, but once we started bodystorming, we kept on adding to our list of desired/ideal improvements. We also managed to affirm our earlier idea, of using the space underneath the chairs/benches as a storage space for handbags and the like.
(3) It was difficult to set the space up. Sometimes, we found that we added features to our imagininary waiting room ad hoc: i.e. we’d be in the middle of acting out an interaction, and then we’d have to stop to reconfirm where exactly the receptionist’s counter was. Sometimes our imaginations would all be at a standstill, and then suddenly everyone would want to act something out — coordination was something that we could’ve worked out further: it didn’t hinder the brainstorming process, but it did make it a little bumpy.
(4) Bodystorming, as a very active and involved process of brainstorming, could result in designers getting carried away by one particular scenario. I think that’s where the external observer would be very useful: to guide the bodystorming without restricting it.
Bodystorming also needs to be combined with empathy for the user group: if the target group is a population that is less abled, a bunch of very fit and able-bodied designers bodystorm would not be able to fully maximize this strategy of bodystorming to get a better insight into their user group.

week 5 (mtan3252)

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?

In a way, the Extreme User was a limitation (we were limited to only extreme behavior/characteristics). And this was a good thing! It funneled our creative juices, such that it was easier to generate an idea within this short span of time. Taking up this position of the Extreme User also allowed me to do two things: (1) it let me feel “free” from any self-censorship and pre-judgment; I felt less restricted and it let me be a lot more creative and free-flowing; (2) it allowed me to conceive of a character that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, or at least, a character I wouldn’t have thought of first.
This exercise was useful in that it let me depart from my typical idea generation process. Usually, I tend to think of a “realistic” situation, something well within the bounds of my imagination. However, this is clearly limited by my own preconceptions of what a particular user could be.
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?
I noticed that not everyone enjoyed the process of story creation in particular. Perhaps the setting of this exercise played a part in enabling or disabling our creativity; i.e. it felt less organic.
The design provocation cards were a fantastic starting point from which to generate story ideas, which then illustrate the wider context/picture within which our idea/product would exist.


Week 4 reflection (mtan3252)

1) Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise a. Reflective listening b. Defamiliarisation of everyday reality c. Empathic modelling
a. I’m definitely a better listener than speaker! I tend to ramble when speaking, because my mind tends to unravel along multiple paths, instead of a clear, linear pathway. My challenge in being an active listener is to ask questions smoothly, instead of joltingly: I’ve learned that I should think the entire question through before asking it.
Cues such as “tell me more,” or give-and-take cues such as “I see what you’re saying. I also think that ____. What do you think?” can also help prompt more thoughts.
b. Sometimes we really need the physical limitations in order to be able to understand other types of embodiment. I thought I could “imagine” what it was like to wear the cling-wrap glasses, but when I actually had the firsthand experience, I found that there were experiences I could not anticipate, such as the enhanced sensitivity to light.
c. It was hard to “get into” the video. My partner and I both wanted to write-without-thinking while watching the video, instead of after watching the video. It was hard to immerse myself in the environments of public transport just by watching the video. That said, I found it interesting to consider the areas of physical sensation. I realize that my hands “feel” a lot when I’m in the bus or the train. And that’s because I’m conscious of the many other hands that have touched the same surfaces..

week 3 blog reflection (mtan3252)

1) Describe your experience of creating personas from different users’ perspectives gathered in the interview data.
We definitely felt like we needed at least two personas. Also, as we progressed through various rounds of interviewing and persona-making, we found it useful to ask further questions, where more lines of similarity/difference could emerge.
It felt very anthropological to go deep into the details of how people approach grocery shopping. It was a good experience to conduct an interview, because it let us see how much effort it took to avoid leading questions.


2) Do you think your final persona(s) was successful in generating empathy with users? What would you change to make it better?
We didn’t have the time to write down more than a few lines. To improve, we could have added more descriptive detail about the persona, such as their likes and dislikes, and what they really appreciate in their shopping experience.

We could’ve also included the persona’s motivations for grocery shopping, as well as their motivations for cooking even. The crafting of an empathetic persona is the “art” aspect of the art+science that is Design Thinking.

blog reflection #2 — mtan3252

1) How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?
It allowed me to follow along their journey of traveling and to “walk in their shoes”. It gave me a look at situations that I have never experienced (e.g. overseas car rental, planning for my honeymoon), and allowed me to see the decision-making process associated with it.
Reading the entire thing and then picking out needs/motivations/frustrations/interests also allowed me to see the user as a person, with preferences and quirks.


2) How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?
The Affinity Diagram is such a useful way to analyze user data. It’s great to see the little picture, the specific details from each individual, as well as the big picture, the overarching root of their want/need/obstacle.
It also helps us to see laterally, to compare different interview subjects and see what commonalities were essential.


3) What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?
It was difficult thinking of the best Blue Post-It, i.e. the best category expressing user needs, while also having design relevance. Walking around the room, I remembered two groups that had really impressive Blue Post-Its that made a lot of sense and immediately put me in a frame of mind where I could see more clearly what the user wanted and needed.
It can also be tricky to have a free-flowing approach to the whole exercise. I think we can be very accustomed to fixing things in neat categories, i.e. have the tendency to want to start by showing everyone “here were the NEEDS, FRUSTRATIONS, INTERESTS, and MOTIVATIONS from my reading”.

To do it better next time, I would practice beforehand how to read an interview transcript and understand the essence of what the user was saying. I would also write more precisely, instead of writing stuff like “Being lost” (for the user’s frustration). Instead I would write: “It is stressful to lose my way, especially when I’m misdirected by Google Maps!”


blog reflection #1 (mtan3252)

1. How is this sketchnoting technique different to the traditional note taking?
I found myself making “creativity” one of my goals, as opposed to only looking at “clarity”. It definitely made me think of mind maps and graphic novels. I think, with traditional note taking, we’re very focused on getting EVERYTHING down, and getting it down precisely. With sketchnoting, we organize information as we sketchnote, and we sketchnote our impression of the information as well as key information.


2. How does this visual approach facilitate communication of your ideas? Conversely, how does it prevent it?
Usually, when writing, we communicate linearly and with other constraints of the page (especially with lined pages). Using this visual approach, we can play with a lot of other variables. We can make words big or small. We can DRAW words. We can draw speech bubbles, or characters who say what we want to be said (e.g. I drew a bat and a frog to underscore how animals have a different sensory umwelt).


3. Personal challenges as a sketchnoter.

How to better organize information visually.
How to add graphics to words, to enhance their delivery.



 – mtan3252

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