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IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind

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rnoo6951

Tutorial 6 rnoo6951

How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?

By acting out the whole sequence, I started to notice little problems and issues that we might have overlooked during the initial problem identification brainstorming session. We had to focus on layout (of the hospital waiting room) and how the organization of the room is conducive or not to the patients that are waiting. We also started taking up characters that would be the worse in certain roles, for instance an absent receptionist, one who is either not there or always on the phone not paying attention to the patients. We had to come up with solutions to counter ideas such as lack of chairs, boredom in the waiting room, annoying patients etc. Also by physically acting out the situation, we found out that magazines in the waiting room had the potential to being unhygienic. We believed that entertainment through contact might actually be counter intuitive at a waiting room considering sick people can spread bacteria through contact. We came to the conclusion that most people already had smartphones, so it would be best if the smartphone notified the patient when the doctor was ready.

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

Yes definitely. The whole bodystorming process notified us to problems that we would not have identified in the brainstorming session. To me it was like a detail oriented research process where every single detail is accounted for. From the arrangement of the chairs to the positioning of the receptionist in relation to the patients/public. Bodystorming made us consider everything from the comfort of the patients to the accessibility of different items. Throughout the whole design thinking classes and tutorials, we had been focusing on empathising with the user. By bodystorming, we’re actually capable of placing ourselves in the shoes of the user and seeing the problems and issues from their point of view. We also had a platform to put our ideas into context. We had the idea of entertainment while passing the time, but through bodystorming we believe that it should not be a public, tactile based form of entertainment. We sought different solutions of games and entertainment methodologies but ultimately came to the conclusion that most people already had a smartphone therefore they would probably be killing time there. Perhaps we could offer them free wifi and a charging point. One of the design elements that we implemented was notifying the user through his phone that it was his turn to see the doctor.

What was difficult and challenging about bodystorming?

Bodystorming is actually a rather fun process especially when you’re performing them amongst friends. In fact the biggest challenge that I saw was the believability of the situation we were creating. I think it would be best to actually have proper set ups and costumes to really place yourself in the shoes of the patient. Currently, we had to use a lot of our imagination and that causes us to not focus on identifying problems, rather we are imagining a room full of patients as opposed to an empty set of plastic chairs. Perhaps we could even visit the actual location.

Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

The biggest problem that I see with bodystorming is that you’re viewing all the problems from your point of view and not the point of view of the general population. Perhaps something that is irksome to yourself is not necessarilly that big an issue with everyone else. That’s why I feel it’s important to go through the whole bodystorming process with as many people as possible to see issues from as many perspectives as possible. Another suggestion I would have is to perhaps record the whole session. Following this we could play back and view the entire sessions analysing what we did right and what we did wrong. We could also use the footage to further analyse in detail any problems that we may have missed during the initial run through.

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Tutorial 5 – rnoo6951

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?

I’m not sure the reasoning as to why I seriously enjoyed this tutorial. I guess the feeling of not being limited to real world constraints really let my imagination fly. It’s also really nice to work with someone else who allows their imaginations to take off – we can come up with ridiculous, silly, and quite often very interesting ideas. I saw this exercise in a similar vain to storytelling, where you’re crafting a story and you are forced to be different or else your story would become cliché. By being at times absolutely ridiculous, we were able to craft actual, credible uses for an object (in this case a telephone box) that we know have become completely irrelevant. Since we were took the role of the sci-fi nerd, we could play with all sorts of ideas such as time travel, teleportation, memory saving. Also considering that this design would be something that would be created in the future, we could assume no technological limitations. I feel that this is a great way of planning a roadmap for products. Want to create the car of the future? Imagine the ultimate car with no limitations, then work your way backwards until it’s achievable with today’s technologies. I wonder if Tesla is actually doing that. Honestly, this was how I originally thought ideas were generated – all the user research, background research, affinity diagrams and personas are all new to me.

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?

The storyboard was definitely one of the best ways to communicate an idea of how the product will work. Again with the storytelling references, it’s always better “to show rather than tell.” I guess that’s why tech companies always make these beautiful product videos – because showing how the products work is always better than verbosely pitching the concept to users. Even tech companies now require animated user interfaces to showcase how their intended mockup is supposed to work. There’s an entire subset in Tumblr that is dedicated to quirky and beautifully animated gifs of user interfaces (granted the majority of these would probably be nightmarish to code, but they’re very fascinating nonetheless). To be perfectly honest, we actually didn’t use the design provocation cards because we were too busy crafting this bizarre future, but we did pitch our ideas with stories. Stories really helped when clarifying what ideas might work and how certain features would be applied. Regardless of how ridiculous our setting or ideas are, ultimately it’s the tie to our human nature that will make the product engaging and compelling.

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-Rezan

Tutorial 4 – rnoo6951

I confused myself last week by writing the week 4 for my week 3 post. Sorry about that. Anyway, here’s my entry for the real Tutorial 4.

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?

I would go so far and say that there were too many common factors between the interviewees. Considering that we were all students who took public transport mainly to get to the university, it was quite easy to find many common behavioural patterns between the four of us. Conveniently we also shared the same concerns and frustrations as well. We came up with variables such as frequency of public transport use, frequency of mobile public transport app use, money spent per week on transport, how much time is spent walking, how much we walked etc. This exercise helped us determine a pattern between students in relation to other variables such as distance to place of residency to frequency of travel/time spent walking. This statistical method of collecting user data is somewhat of a modular method of creating personas where we can simply play around with the variables (while still being empathic to their needs). This varied a little bit from our User Interface class when we created a persona. Depending on the diversity of the user research data, the personas that we generate should probably be very different. I’m only curious to find out how many variables would be considered comprehensive enough when doing a study.

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

Our persona was definitely an amalgamation of our uniting data plus a few factors in the variables that would point to behavioural commonality. I would say that I’m confident the first persona that we created was successful. We did run out of time when creating the next 4 personas so they were a little under developed. I am curious to find out if there is an application online that would help us create personas since the variables are quantifiable.

I find sometimes that I need to perform a lot of thinking on the subject matter before I can come up with relevant questions to ask the user. I believe I could come up with more objective variables and important questions had I thought about this subject of public transport for a longer time. Background research is also just as crucial. Slowly I think I’m coming to terms with this User centric design. Perhaps I believed that all design was genius design before – not anymore.

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Tutorial 3 – rnoo6951

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

I’ve always felt an honest conversation with anyone is the best way of empathizing with that person. You can tell from the intonations in their voices their concerns, desires or their feeling on the subject. These written interviews were missing these vocal cues, so it became a data gathering activity. While the text did help me pinpoint specific areas of interests/concerns that the user had, I could not vaguely rank which was of more importance because I personally was not performing the interview. I would admit, however, that this methodology was very efficient. We got a lot of data because all of us reviewed the interviews creating a huge “database” of needs and concerns.

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

One thing that we got from the “database” of needs and concerns were definitely some similarities between what each of our users needed. The clustering of information, although difficult at first, turned out to be quite effective when organizing which information was important to our users. Furthermore, information that was difficult to categorize or actually stood out meant that it perhaps wasn’t as crucial as one might think it to be. From this exercise one could start getting an idea of what kind of solution he/she would want to create. It would also help in creating focus if all the needs tended to cluster in one area of the organization. These methods were fast and efficient, perhaps great for working in big corporations where solutions are needed rapidly for issues that arise.

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

To be honest I felt that it was difficult to empathize with the users because I never understood everyone’s problem wholly. I had to rely on data points that my teammates had come up with. While this is efficient, I would perhaps prefer a quick background summary on who everyone interviewed. Perhaps this way is not objective, but empathy I feel rarely is. I also feel that since all four of us in the group read different interviews, we started to empathize more with our own interviews therefore valuating our personal interviews a little higher than other interviews. This means that during the cluster organization we perhaps tended to care more for our own dataset than others. I think it’s important that everyone in a group learn to write in a similar way (on similar post it notes and similar pens) as to give equal weight to all data points. Of course this was also the first time we were doing this exercise that is why it’s perhaps we’re not too clear in our points. A little bit more time to properly organize and understand each dataset would have been helpful as well.

Tutorial 2 – Visual Communication
 through drawing and sketchnoting (rnoo6951)

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My attempt at sketchnoting a TED Talk. A little bit messy and ran out of space early on.

How is this technique different to the traditional note taking?

I think to those who are not comfortable (and to a certain extent even those who are comfortable) with illustrations will generally find this methodology rather frustrating. I know there are some illustrators who are very comfortable with this kind of note taking, but I find it rather difficult to perform two tasks simultaneously. On one hand I am focused on taking notes as best I can trying to not miss out on any crucial information, but on the other hand I am so focused on creating the best illustrations possible. Perhaps I have not yet found a balance between the two. I also believe that an illustrator considering this kind of work would do well to develop an art style that is simplistic yet pretty. Efficiency is key here. Ultimately I would still prefer to have all the data first followed by careful planning of where and what kind of graphics should be placed where on the canvas.

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

This visual approach makes the notes easier on the eye. Graphics are always less intimidating compared to a giant wall of text. If I were to use this technique to its maximum potential, I would probably have the most attractive graphics in close proximity to the most important information. Honestly considering the very visual nature of these notes, there is a lot of room to play when conveying information. The information would also be read by more people since its more approachable. Unfortunately, I don’t think one can go into too much depth with this technique. Too much information has the potential to confuse the reader. At the end of the day it’s about balance. Balance between the information and the right amount of graphics. Also by taking typography into account, we can lessen the intimidation of text. Really it’s another tool to be used in the appropriate situation.

Personal challenges.

I personally like to draw more than I like to write, so it was very annoying that I had to take the focus away from my illustrations. In the end what I ended up doing was writing down all the important information first before going back and adding drawings. Also since I didn’t really know how long the presentation was, I may have ran out of space before the speaker began talking about the key points of his speech. I just believe I need practice to get better at being a sketchnoter. Unfortunately I just don’t think I have the interest. Illustrations, I believe, need to be cared for just like any other craft. In my opinion, quick doodles and sketches are just drafts or ways of presenting an idea before one works on the final piece.

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My second sketchnote, this one I just ran out of time. Had more text on it, didn’t have the time to finish the drawings. 

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The other sketches during the class. I like drawing!

Design Thinking on Speed (rnoo6951)

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My tragic prototype. It was supposed to be a very nice box, but I will willingly admit that I am quite terrible at origami. Here’s to the next project. 

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

Engaging with a real person actually changed my whole approach to the problem. I had this idea beforehand that the biggest problem in the gift giving experience was going to be “I don’t know what to get him or her.” To a certain extent, that was the problem my partner faced as well. What I got from the interview, however, was that he didn’t know what to get not because he was struggling to find the perfect gift, rather it’s because he had lost touch with the person he was getting the gift for. He really didn’t know what she liked or her current interests were. He ended up taking a gamble and fortunately it paid off. So I thought as opposed to trying to wreck your brains trying to gather what little info you know about someone, why not just create a prototype that makes taking a gamble (with gifts) easier?

What was it like showing unfinished work to another person?

It was essential to me. While I’m not the most fond of it it’s very important to get feedback on how to improve the idea. It’s better to make the changes early on rather than when you’re close to the end. Sometimes when you’ve been working on a project for so long it’s good to get a fresh set of eyes on it. Of course it’s important who you get the feedback from, you don’t want to alter your project to cater to all feedback.

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?

For myself I had to use a lot of my imagination. Considering he was pretty much building a bus out of paper there was a lot of explaining to do. According to my imagination however, his idea looked brilliant. In reality, I would hope that luxury transport would not have pipe cleaners for wheels.

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?

There were many, many things I would go back and do again. One thing I would do is to prepare a definite set of questions based on my predispositions as to make sure I cover all the bases. I would also do many more sketches of my idea as well as further develop the idea of the concept in detail. Considering how simplistic my idea was, it was crucial that I had a well-developed prototypes to present as well. I would have also liked to have given more thought and detail to my other ideas as well. It would be foolhardy to dismiss all ideas in such a short amount of time.

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

The engagement. I think it’s important to engage with the users in order to identify the core of the issue. It’s quite fun to think of problems that I encounter and coming up with what I think are genius solutions, but this exercise taught me that the problems facing the general public may be quite different from my personal preferences. I’m also quite a fan of the iterative process, where the concept is constantly evolving and changing. The fact that one may start with a single vision but end up with something considerably different makes the project feel alive.

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