IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind


Queenie Ling

Media Strategist with a passion for all things interactive, fun and spontaneous.

Blog Reflection : Week 7 – Affordances (Queenie Ling – qlin4489)

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

One of the objects in which I would normally not think too much about, was a hairbrush. Initially the only affordances I understood were perceptible affordances such as the brush handle and bristles. However once interacting with the brush blindfolded, I started to understand the hidden affordances which I would take for granted such as the handle having a slight bump so the user can tell which side has the bristles & for comfort. The same aspects of an object can also have different types of affordances, for example, though the bristle themselves are a perceptible affordances, it is only until you start using it that you realise the soft texture of the bristles which was designed to ensure it does not harm your scalp, which turns out to be a hidden affordance.

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.

I find it very interesting to understand that the affordances are relative to a person’s ability to the object. Being blindfolded while holding the brush allowed me to understand the simple things I take for granted such as gripping the handle, can be a difficult task for another. Without the shape of the handle or bump on the bristle side of the brush, a seemingly easy task for me can only be made easy for someone who is blind with these affordances. Similarly with the teapot, initially it did not connect with me on why it was made from glass, aside for aesthetic appeal. However after discussing with my partner, who happened to be an avid tea lover, the glass allows him to know the colour of the tea which will determine when is the perfect time to drink it. The inspiration I have learnt from this exercise is to be very open-minded. As a designer, you can get so worked up into designing for your own affordances, you may not see the hidden ones needed for another to use your product. For example, being a left-hander myself, when I create a design, I feel I might need to also ask a right-hander to hold it to see how they feel. Is it comfortable for them? Does it feel easy to use for them? Therefore it is important to try different situations like we have practiced but also to ask people who differ in their relationship with the object. Affordances that differ even so slightly can make a big difference to the design and considerations.

My two objects: Brush & Glass Teapot

Blog Reflection : Week 6 – Bodystorming (Queenie Ling – qlin4489)

How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?

Physically acting out our space allowed us to explore different type of scenarios that could happen in real life such as if all the chairs were full, or if a disabled person entered the room. There are a variety of scenarios that can come from one space which when explore physically, result in a different range of problems that lead to other solutions.

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

Our ideas and solutions were able to become more refined through bodystorming as it allowed us to pick up on finer details we would not think from just brainstorming. While our brain is good at processing a lot of information, to cope with the amount of information it receives from all our senses, it has set templates which create assumptions and simulations on what is happening around us. It is due to this broad scan our brain does, it can miss out on details unless we are actually in the situation itself. Examples from our bodystorming include, how would you get the receptionist attention, as this was assumed as not a problem in our brainstorm (solution: add a bell) or how to notify someone who is out and about as we assumed they would notice it in our brain storm (solution: vibrating notification). Another great learning from the other group was that they didn’t realise a person would have to get up twice in a plane if someone had to go to the bathroom as they only thought of the initial one when brainstorming.

What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

The challenge on bodystorming was that as each member of the group had to partake in being part of the scene, it made it hard to discuss the problems and solutions collaboratively. Only one person’s role was to be the ‘director’ therefore it was hard to have say on the problems if there is not enough time given so that everyone gets a go at the director role.

It is also hard to look after different issues at a time as we must pause the scene every time there is a problem. Therefore while it allows for more detailed look into solutions, it is difficult to have enough time to go through all of them and allow equal input on these scenes.

Bodystorming issues in a doctor’s waiting room. Looking at uncomfortable seating solutions

Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

Bodystorming lends itself to thoroughly look through a certain type of problem from the start to the end such as the realising someone has to get up twice in a plane to go to the bathroom. It also allows you to take the full journey of the person’s needs until it is fulfilled. As brainstorming usually only focuses on solving the problem, bodystorming allows you to find the problem, address the problem & watch what happens and how the person feels after solving this problem. It also allows you to understand not only the rational problem of the user but also the emotional burdens such as getting angry because the receptionist is not paying attention to you. All these emotional triggers allow you to see a new perspective of the problem you may not have previously think of, allowing for more rounded designs and solutions.

Queenie Ling (QLIN4489) – Assessment 1 – Summary Poster

Queenie Ling (qlin4489) - Assessment 1 -Summary Poster -

Blog Reflection: Week 5 – Ideating (Queenie Ling – qlin4489)

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

Having an extreme user allowed us to have better assumptions on what they would like about our design and what they would prefer to see. Our extreme user, the ‘trekkie’ also restricted our design parameters, as this user would be more interested in high-tech designs. However it is also because of this restriction that it allowed us to generate more ideas within this field that in turn created better design solutions for one specific type of user.

In the picture below, I had created a character that fits within our extreme user. This allowed us to understand our user better by putting ourselves in what their life and backstory is like.


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

Yes it was different to how I usually generate ideas as usually in my current field of work (marketing and media), ideas are generated from a more broad audience and usually demo specific e.g. Women 25 – 54. This changes the approach to empathy as we are no longer looking for an extreme user but and idea that pleases a much larger audience. My ideas are also usually generated based on specific insight about the target such as ‘88% of W 25 – 54 are on their smart phones while watching TV’ so our ideas are generating around data rather than characteristics.

This process allowed us to therefore empathise with our user before we had generated ideas and follow him on his journey to using our design which was more enjoyable to explore as you feel like you are right beside them, experiencing the journley like you are walking in their shoes.

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?

Stories did help work through our ideas, as it is one thing to design something your extreme user might like, but it is another to see how they would use it in their life. By creating a persona story, it allowed us to brainstorm different situations our user would use it and storyboarding this allowed us to fill in the details such as where is the product place within the environment, what it would look like and draw out his emotions and reactions before, during and after using our product.

The first example displays the character’s urgency and anxiety of being late (Teleporter)


The second example displays the character’s affection and feelings being using our design (Memory Box)


Blog Reflection: Week 3 – Interpreting Data (Queenie Ling – qlin4489)

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

This exercise helped with building empathy with prospective users as the interviews were in taken in a relaxed manner and involved open probing. As Claudia mentioned in the lecture, by building genuine empathy with your user, it allows you to re-think your assumptions of who you think they are. Sometimes it is human nature to have presumptions about people based on archetypes or even stereotypes so this exercise really allowed me to be open minded since I didn’t have any visual clues, only a transcript to base my findings on. By doing this, we also got to know more about who our user was rather than what we needed to fix.

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

Clustering information allowed us to find similarities for more than one user’s need. For example, we had two users in our group with kids to take into account. It also allowed for common themes to emerge not only from your own findings but from various sources. It also forces you to look at the bigger picture such as instead of focusing on notes with specific issues like pre-booking flights/activities lead to a need of security.

Photo 1

Our Affinity Diagram:

Photo 2

What was difficult or challenging with the technique?

This was definitely a difficult technique to use. The main challenges were:

  • Co-ordination and co-operation between all people in our group. It is a challenge as a group finding common themes between all our work as sometimes it is easier to only look at things from your own perspective. In the end, we were all happy of our blue & pink labels, but the process of going through all our different notes was difficult. Sometimes we would almost have contradictions in themes such as “I like to plan” vs. “I like to explore.”
  • Determining the blue labels! As we moved to the Pink labels, this got much easier as we were looking at the relationship between 2 blue labels. However at the start as we were forming the blue labels, we had more than 7 affinity notes to group together somehow. Sometimes we would rearrange the yellow notes over again as some fit more than one theme.
  • It was not always a linear process from yellow → blue → pink. Our final pink label took the most time as we weren’t able to find how our blue labels mentioning ‘Problems with Google Maps’ would apply to our other labels. In the end we ended up creating a pink note which connected with one only blue note and another blue note we came up with last minute, at the same time as this Pink Label from our affinity notes.

Our final Pink label: “I need unplanned moments in our trip.”

Photo 3

  • Overwhelming amount of data! Below is a picture of all the affinity notes which we did not group together. This does not mean we would not have considered them in our research. However these may not have shared a stronger theme as much as the other notes. If we have more time, we would have gone through them again and see if they match up to our final labels.

Notes which were not used:

Photo 4

How would you do it better next time?

Next time if I already notice common ideas/links on my affinity notes, I would have grouped them earlier.If I had notes which suited a few themes, I would consider writing that note twice so that it would fit both labels in the beginning and eliminate as we move to the pink labels. It would also be interesting to have noted my initial assumptions before we started to see how they compare to our findings afterwards.

Blog Reflection 1 – Gift Giving Experience – Queenie Ling (qlin4489)

1.How did engaging with a real person, testing with a real person, change the direction your prototype took?

Engaging with a real person meant my prototype turned from a single-minded piece of work into a collaborative work with real feedback to bounce off. It’s always hard to know if the ideas or solutions you’ve created works only for you or something that solves a real problem or process that exists. As Lian discussed in the lecture, by testing with a real person, it distinguishes my prototype as human centred design which stems from consumer research compared to an art form, which focuses more on self-expression.

2.What was it like showing unfinished work to another person?

It left the door wide open for constructive feedback. It also only allowed you to explain the core purpose of your prototype. As long as that was on the right track of solving their problem, all the features and layout can be revised based on how my partner engaged with the prototype.

3.As a User, how did you interact with your partner’s level of lowly-resolved prototype; how did the level of resolution impact your experience as a user?

During the ideation brainstorm when my partner was generating her 5 ideas, it was quite difficult to see how the prototype was going to work. It made a big difference to see it come to life even if it was just drawing out the interface and how each step would look like. As we didn’t have enough time, my partner only had enough time to create one scenario of her prototype, so as a user, I had to use my imagination to build from that & visualise myself what the other scenarios would have been had it been a completed prototype.

4.Design thinking is an iterative, self-directed process. Based on what you learned, what would you go back and do next? What would you do over again?

What I would do over again is keeping my ideas very different and broad from each other. Due to the time constraint, I felt 2 of my ideas were similar App based solutions when I wanted to branch out more and find other ways to solve the problem ranging it from the physical world all the way into web & mobile.

What I would go back and do next is research if a similar solution has been used, what was the outcome of that? Did it come down to a similar problem they were trying to solve too? I do believe collaboration and research is an important step to take so I would also ask if other people have similar gift giving experiences my partner had and if my prototype would help them as well.

5.What principle, what tool would you infuse into the work tomorrow?

Coming from a Media Strategy background, we also have a similar approach in creating solutions from insights you’ve found. What differs here is our solutions are Media based. However the principle and tool I would infuse into this work is similar to Media which is to dig deeper. My general thought process to this is smarter questions always lead to smarter solutions. Smarter questions also lets you reframe the problem which is another tool I would use as it’s one thing to have a list of needs & insights, but another to articulate it into a defined sentence which frames your problem!

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