IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Major: Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts. (mzha8807)




Link: IDEA9106-A3-Sola Video

SHIMENG LIU (sliu5064)

DANLIN FENG (dfen4827)


Blog Reflection 6: Experience Prototyping

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

The usual method I use to generate ideas at the first beginning of design process is brainstorming, which allow me and group members to write down the ideas we come out in papers. During this stage, as designers, we clearly know the procedure of how the ideas operating, however, it is hardly to imagine or test whether they are acceptable and friendly to use, or what could be the real reactions when user access to them. Physically acting out such as brainstorming can put designers into users’ shoes, to act and directly experience what could be the frustrations or challenges during using our new products. This allow us to change parts of the ideas in the middle of the design process and improve the usability of final productions. Thus in my opinion, compared with the idea generated by non-physically acting, exploring idea through body acting method can better ensure its feasibility and practicality and prefect it by experience testing.

2) Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through body storming? in what way?

In the class exercise, our group decided to improve the sleeping experience during flying. Instead of thinking and writing down the problems, we practiced a real scenario and expect to find out what could be the frustrations.

Images: we were testing the siting comfort degree for sleepers and the spatial comfort degree for both sleepers and other passengers.

Because we mainly focused on the specific scenario that we acting, the issues were quickly identified in multi-aspects, and possible solutions were generated simultaneously. During the body storming, we found out that the experience of sleeping in airplanes is quite influenced by surrounding passengers (such as: noise), spatial comfort degree and temperature level, and these elements are associated with individual space and quality of sleep.Thus we planned to design a chair by using sound absorption materials (nearby the head area) and spatial adjustment technique (eg: the seat back can self-adjusting with pressure). The whole design process is very quick and the final product could address the issues to some extent.


3) What was difficult or challenging about body storming?

Basically, body storming is operating by specific scene building and the quality of idea generation will directly base on the scene we created. Moreover, body storming quires high level of improvisation, however, could be difficult for some team members which others who are good at it could dominant the idea generation. As a result, the final production might not be a comprehensive design since there might be some limitations on created scene.

4) Does body storming lend itself to certain types of problems?

As mentioned above, body storming is a scene-oriented idea generated method so that it is more suitable for the activities which require various physical actions. If the end product is a mobile application or computer software, the utility of body storming might less than other idea exploration skills.

Blog Reflection 5: Ideating

1) How did taking the position of an Extreme User influence your thinking in relation to the design challenge? 


I think acting as an extreme user can experience extreme environment or find out special latent issues and demands. In this week our group pick up the character – the money-spinners as our extreme user. When we specify our target user into one specific and characteristic person, it quickly generates and leads us to a goal-oriented plan. Different from regular payphone users, extreme user shows huger gap among their strong and weak requirements. For money-spinners, they might more focus on its efficiency, convenience, and security level rather than the cost of calls, appearance, entertainment, etc. These preference will definitely influence the function types, interaction even color selection of the product in the further design.

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Image: Story of our character, be created by one of our group members.


Was it different to how you usually generate ideas and empathy?

Basically it is quite similar with the way that I usually generate ideas. Before design an application, I will create persona(s) and user story in order to put myself in user’s shoes which can help I to analyze, to image what are the problems/issues that my target users are facing and what do they real need. Usually, most target users are common people. They do show characteristic but not in a very obverse way and sometimes their characteristics are quite unclear or hard to classify. Thus, I think taking the position into an extreme user have an advantage on empathy for designers. It shows more clues about how they behave exactly or what specific type of issues they got, etc. Generally, it shows more efficient way to look into potential demands.


However, the extreme users cannot represent most target users of one product. Assuming there is an extreme user can assist designers to get some ideas or empathy of extreme situations, but sometime it might overstate the special problems. Therefore, I think whether do we need an extreme user depends on different situation rather than every times.


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, I think other thinking techniques such as user profile, storyboard play significant roles for team collaboration and communication as well as the understanding of user demands. After a brief group discussion, everyone could come up with their own ideas, and those ideas might not similar with each other so using design provocation cards can collect and classify different ideas efficiently. Furthermore, thinking skills such as stories and storyboards can help team members to fully understand the final idea, as well as generate empathy more easily.



Blog Reflection 2: Experience of Interpreting Data.

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

After experiencing this activity, I had a new understanding on what is user research exactly. As for designers, It is very difficult to find real demands directly from transcriptions, which are often mixed up with invalid messages. However, Affinity Diagram helps me to screen out and classify effective content from mass information step by step. It also helps me to discover the pain points from existing problems so it is easier to put myself in their place.

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

At the first stage, scanning transcription and finding single target message from it is the way of problem recognition. This is a critical and basic step for gleaning information as much as possible from users.

After finishing recording our own Affinity Note, we shared the notes and grouped them into different labels (BULE post-it note). In this stage, we summarized user demands/pain points and each of them could represent the similarity of problems. For instance, participants all had a terrible experience of using online booking systems or online payment (problem), so they all wished the websites/systems could be designed more user-friendly (demand).

The process of clustering was really conducive to exploit and analyze the demands that come from users. It is a time consuming process, however, it can help researchers to develop clear thinking.

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

One of the challenging for me is finding relevant elements and transferring all of them to post-it notes in limited time. I need to ensure my reading speed as well as the accuracy. But I think after practicing frequently, it will become better and better.

In addition, because I am not familiar with other interviews, so I cannot judge their accuracy. In our group, we had one yellow post-it note cannot fit in any other group, so we do not know how to deal with it (maybe just rub it as rubbish XD). If we have sufficient time for us to read each interview transcription and peers notes, it would better guarantee the quality and quantity of demand classification.


Week 1 – Sketching as a thinking tool

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

        From my personal perspective, sketching requires a relatively higher note-taking skill comparing with the traditional one. Generally, the purpose of note-taking is to record most of the key points from a lecture or presentation. In addition, taking notes usually follows by a good understanding ability, abundant info as well as limited time. As for traditional one, recording as simple as possible mainly could satisfy most of the note-takers. Recorders could concentrate more on the speech rather than note-taking which might shows advantages on later study. And the notes also could be easily shared with and followed by other readers.
       Sketching is more like a advanced note-taking skill which might not suit everyone. I personal believe that it is not only related to creativity, but also requires a flexible mind-set and a good number of practice. However, it is conducive to understanding and memorizing cause noters transfer those info into their own style. Furthermore, sketching involves a key element —images. Vision is an intuitive apprehension(Husserl & Brough, 2005) hence it would help readers to understand the meaning in a more visual and efficient way. Moreover, sketching shows benefits in some areas. For instance, as for anatomy and physiology, images is central to the structure of human’s body compared with words. It would improve the readability of info to some extent.
  • How does this visual approach facilitate communication of your ideas? Conversely, how does it prevent it?

         In a ideal situation, a good sketching help readers quickly understand a general idea of the info. For example, radial structure implies there is only one main subject and it closely links with those subobjects. And as mention above, images would play a important role in note-taking, it therefore could promotes deeper understanding for both writers and readers.
    However, in practical we are facing lots of challenges during sketching, such as typography, limitation on time, unfamiliar topics and abstract points, and these complicated elements would cause a miswriting or misunderstanding of the content. As a result, when recording the ideas from vast quantities of messages or an unfamiliar topic of a lecture, sketching might result in a negative communication. It requires advanced skills on listening, writing even comprehending capacity.
  • Personal challenges as a sketch-noter.

     First of all, I have to claim that I am not good at drawing but I am still enjoy the entire process very much.
       The image below is the sketching of the TEDs presentation. I mainly recorded the parts which I am interested in. And I realized sketching is much more funny than traditional note-taking, so I may try to use it in later note-taking [and I definitely will practice it more lol]
     Husserl, E., & Brough, J. (2005). Phantasy, image consciousness, and memory, 1898-1925. Dordrecht: Springer.

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