IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Tutorial #5 – Ideating

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? 

  • It’s not easy for me to go to extremes on demand, it makes me quite uncomfortable as I like moderation in everything. However, for the few moments that I did go extreme, it quickened the thought process in my mind thus allowing me to explore remote grounds and untouched ideas. As a designer in today’s ever changing and innovative world, it is important to be able to think outside the box. I however, would reserve this technique for rare moments when I really need them – I do not want to over-use and exhaust the hidden creative juices in my mind.

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 of course, I think a great idea is born, developed and executed not just by a light-bulb moment, but through a concoction of everyone’s creativity. Everyone’s creativity comes to light through different methods, and as a designer this should be paid attention to as well. For example, while some people were able to produce great ideas with the provocation cards, others were better off without them.

Tutorial #9 – Visual Storytelling

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

  • Using different shots and scenes allowed us to decide what should be focused on in our film. Different kinds of shots enable the designer to shift the viewer’s focus from one element of the product to another fairly easier. Also, through these shots, the designer is able to clearly show the viewer key elements of the design that need to be focused on.

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

  • The basic structure of our story was the traditional 5 Ws and 1 H – who, what, where, when, why, and how. It’s a fairly easy concept to follow and since our final design is a bit complicated, we decided to stick to a simple video format for easier consumption of information by the viewers.

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

  • Our storyboard is focused on the tech-savvy youth of today. The storyline is created in a way where the youth will be able to relate with the situations and scenarios – thus convincing them that this product would be quite useful for their daily lives.

Tutorial #7 – Interrogating Affordances

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 object I chose for this exercise was a pen. Traditionally, a pen is used for writing, sketching and other such activities. As the exercise proceeded, I realized that a pen, with the right shape and dimensions can also be substituted for chopsticks. Not only that, the ‘chopstick-pen’ was also then used as a poking device.

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. 

  • The manipulation technique I used for this tutorial was being physically restricted. Typically, a pen needs the help of the thumb when using, I decided to tape up my thumbs and try using the pen to write. It was clearly a disaster when writing a few words. On the other hand, when I applied the same restrictions to the above-mentioned ‘chopstick-pen’ poking device to type on my laptop, it wasn’t as hard anymore. I think all objects could possibly have uses other than what they were designed for, it takes a few alterations and restrictions for a user to run their imagination wild and come up with other possibilities.

Tutorial #8 – Evaluation

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

  • Both processes – user observation and think aloud – enable the user and evaluator to gain more information on the usability of a website. As an evaluator, I gained key insight into the positives and negatives of the websites. As a user, I had a chance to pay more attention to certain flaws in the website that I may not have noticed or paid attention to previously.

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

  • The prototypes weren’t 100% fully functional, they each had various glitches that were noticed throughout the individual’s usage. While some had interface design problems, others had issues with convenience and placements of options/tasks and one website just plainly lagged.
  • As a user, I felt a bit more under pressure and I was being recorded and observed while using the website, this only added to my frustrations to lagging aspects of the website.
  • As an evaluator, it was a bit more difficult to record accurate reactions of the user as it had to be done simultaneously. In addition, one of the users in my group didn’t really have many reactions (happy or otherwise) to the prototype they were testing, this was mainly because the person is quite patient by nature. In my opinion, this method of evaluation is good only if the user is quite expressive by nature.


Tutorial #6 – Experience Prototyping

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

  • Our group first began by listing down the many problems encountered in a doctor’s waiting room. We began by brainstorming and collating 8 different issues faced by a patient. Physically acting out the listed issues allowed us to experience the issues in real life by putting ourselves in the shoes of other people – or in this case, the many kinds of patients that visit a hospital/medical clinic.
  • For the second exercise which was about ‘sleeping in planes’- it was quite easy for everyone to brainstorm and list down problems faced by airline passengers.

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

  • Body-storming the ideas enabled us to notice one major issue faced by all patients alike – varying waiting times. By setting up a replica of a waiting room, we were able to visualize the scenarios and come up with effective solutions. Similarly, while trying to replicate the scenario in a plane, we were able to identify one of the most common problems to be the uncomfortable seats which cause body pain by the end of the flight.

3) What was difficult or challenging about body-storming?

  • I personally found the process of body-storming to be quite easy to understand and follow. I also thought that the activity helps to better understand and visualize many different types of situations – especially when done in groups with role playing.

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

  • Body storming in my opinion lends itself quite well to activities where more than 3 people are involved.


Tutorial #4 – Empathy and Defamiliarisation

1) Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise:

  • Reflective listening
    • This exercise made me realize that I’m more comfortable being a listener than being a speaker. It helped me understand a lot about the other person and be able to connect with them better. It also made me realize that I’m more comfortable when I don’t make eye contact while talking to another individual about myself.

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  • Defamiliarisation of everyday reality
    • This exercise left me quite surprised to be honest. While the video of the bus ride left me plain bored and hurt my head because it felt like a never-ending misery, the video of the trains evoked quite a bit in me. While writing my thoughts onto the paper after watching the train video, I realized that there were so many different things brought on by just one video – frustration, nostalgia, excitement, irritation, peaceful, and aspirational. It was quite interesting to go through everything and be able to make sense of the situation.

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  • Empathic modelling
    • It was definitely not a pleasant experience. I didn’t really put any cling-wrap on my glasses, instead I just took my prescription eye-glasses off and found everything to be quite frustratingly burred. Apart from the fact that it gave me a head-ache and I wouldn’t want to be in that position again, I realized that it wasn’t really that hard to navigate around the corridor as it’s a familiar ground. It might be quite difficult to navigate around if I was put in an unfamiliar location with reduced sight though.

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Tutorial #3 – Creating Personas

1) Describe your experience of creating personas from different users’ perspectives gathered in the interview data. Was there enough commonality between the 4 people interviewed to form a coherent persona? Or did it make more sense to create a second different persona?

  • As we were all students and our chosen topic was the use of public transport, it was quite easy to be able to gather and analyze data to create just one persona. The categories we chose to include in our group questionnaire were age, frequency, purpose, preferences, average journey time, cleanliness, destination, user experience, and opal card use. While there were a few discrepancies in some areas, we largely found commonalities across the spectrum of responses gathered – thus giving rise to ALEX, our group’s persona.

2) Do you think your final persona(s) was successful in generating empathy with users? What would you change to make it better?

  • Overall, I feel that we did generate empathy as we were able to point out ‘Alex’s’ preferences and frustrations, goals and backstory – although this was only briefly.
  • I think because the topic and questions generated from the chosen topic were quite limited and straightforward, we weren’t able to expand and dig deeper into each user’s responses.


Tutorial #2 – Interpreting Data

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

  • The exercise helped me to understand the needs, motivations, wants, likes, dislikes, frustrations and a lot of other traits and habits of the user. The amounts of tiny little details revealed by the user allowed me to step into his shoes to try and better understand his views on the topic on hand.

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

  • When clustering the information generated by the group, we were able to locate a lot of similarities between our specific users, their habits, and preferences and frustrations. This helps the analyser to be able to find common problem areas or “pain points” across the board, and also similar habits and patterns of users in a specific ‘group’.

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

  • The length of the interview and the fact that it was not structured properly was quite an issue for me. I thought that interview jumped around from topic to topic, often leaving me confused with what the user really wanted. Maybe a shorter interview, where the answers are concise and to the point would help the interviewer to accurately note down their feedback and thus categorize.


Tutorial #1 – Sketching as a Thinking Tool

1) How is this sketch noting technique different to the traditional note taking?

  • Traditional note taking involves a lot of short-hand-writing, and only involves large amounts of text. This may often be hard to interpret if the handwriting if not easily recognizable – and would often be a boring to look at if you’re a third person.
  • Sketch-noting on the other hand is a lot more visual with less text, design centric and more easy to look at. It makes the notes quite appealing to look at, and portrays a person’s mind map in some ways.

2) How does this visual approach facilitate communication of your ideas? Conversely, how does it prevent it?

  • A visual representation when communicating your ideas helps to keep a note of key ideas, and clearly showcases what parts are more important to the individual when compared to another. While these may be the positives to sketch-noting, this technique may often be misinterpreted by another individual if not correctly represented.

3) Personal challenges as a sketch-noter.

  • I think my main challenge with sketch-noting is the inability to draw well and efficiently. That was my main issue when trying to sketch-note key points from the video shown in class. On the other hand, when we were given sufficient time to put together a recipe, I did a better job than with the video.


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