IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind


Ramkumar Shankar

Jaago – Project Presentation

Group Name: Unite

Team Members:

  1. Muquit H. A. Rabbani (mrab6077)
  2. Patrick Zaldivar (pzal6616)
  3. Ramkumar Shankar (rsha2256)



Jaago – a tool to inform and empower non-activists.

Presentation Slides:

Jaago – Project Presentation


Blog 7 – Interrogating Affordances – rsha2256

  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 three objects I had brought from home were a metal spoon, a plastic comb and a toothbrush. I’ll talk about the metal spoon. Typically, this is used to scoop up food during a meal or for tasting food that is being prepared. However, after sketching and examining the object from different perspectives, the narrower end could be used to poke at or into something. It might even be used to cut into soft material. This could be mitigated by using more rounded corners for the handles, or altering the weight distribution of the object to make it lighter at the handle and heavier at the other end. This would make it uncomfortable to hold it at the other end.
  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.
    Changing the object revealed interesting possibilities. By wrapping the handle in plastic, we thought we had increased the utility of the object since it could be used to stir hot food and remain in the pot (the handle would not get hot). However, it might not help with the false and hidden affordances I outlined earlier.

    My partner and I went through different exercises when it came to manipulating the user. The two that stood out for me were using gloves and blindfolds. It’s quite remarkable how much of the affordance of object is informed by our sense of sight and touch. The comb, for example, has two distinct halves. The spacing between the spines of the comb is different in each half. With blindfolds on, it was hard to tell the spacing between the spines of the comb through touch alone. In some cases, it was not even clear what the object was.

Blog 6 – Experiencing Prototyping – rsha2256

  1. How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?
    Physically acting ideas helped us to appreciate the situation better, and often gave us information we may have missed otherwise. For example, our group picked ‘sleeping on airlplanes’. One thing that all of had completely missed, and which only came up through bodystorming, is that a person sitting near the aisle gets disturbed twice when a person at the window seat needs to go to the lavatory. During this time, the person at the aisle has to wait and is not able to go back to sleep.Bodystorming also allowed us to stretch the boundaries of the situation. For example, a person who needs to go to the lavatory may not always return to their seats immediately after. He or she may move to a different part of the cabin to chit-chat with friends who may be on the same flight, further prolonging the wait for the person seated near the aisle.
  2. Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through bodystorming? In what way?
    Because we were changing the parameters of the situation, we came up with some solutions we may not have otherwise. For example, we had an idea for helping visually impaired persons get back to their seats using sound to signal when they were approaching their seats. Staggered seat configurations was another idea that emerged from bodystorming.
  3. What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?
    Bodystorming takes time and requires more in terms of props and arrangements. As an individual, you also need to loosen up and put yourself in the frame of mind of the person you are acting out which could be a challenge.
  4. Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?
    I think it lends itself extremely well to problems in real-world situations which sees people interacting with one another in a defined space. It may not well as well to areas such as software design, which typically has one person interacting with the product.

Research Summary Poster – rsha2256

And the feedback from the group on Tuesday, and some comments.

I didn’t know

  • the value of showing up to public spaces and being counted
  • that many people do not like to go to a rally
  • about the former activist

Tell me more

  • about whom Rally Assist helps?
    The initial concept straddles the line as something that could be useful to both activists (as rally organisers) or to non-activists (who may not wish to attend or stay at rallies). Using the personas and designing for one particular group could help.

Have you thought

  • implementing it in non-academic places?
    The ideas were tailored for activities at the local community level. Exploring their applicability on a larger scale is something to look into.
  • how to get people to download the app?

Blog 5 – Ideating – rsha2256

  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?
    Our extreme user was “the money spinners”. Taking the position of an extreme user definitely removed barriers to brainstorming and ideation. It definitely helped kickstart the ideation process, which would sometimes go to wild and wacky territory. We were not bound by the usual constraints which might otherwise hamper the ideation process (feasibility, cost, time etc…).The first step, the elaboration of our extreme user type, broadened the set of possible ideas, but also placed some boundaries in terms of what would appeal to our extreme user. So, it helped in two ways – increase the number of ideas generated, but also limit the feasible ideas for our extreme user.This was quite different from how I’ve typically been involved in ideation in the past. I frequently recall struggling to put together a sizeable number of ideas for discussion, but that was not a problem here. Even if the utility of the ideas as a whole can be debated, I was pleasantly surprised that every group in class had some elements in their ideas which were ripe for further exploration.
  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 found the use of design provocation cards, coupled with an extreme user, particularly useful for the ideation process. Because we had an extreme user drawn up, I was immediately primed to relate the design provocation to my extreme user. Many of my ideas came from the design provocation cards. In fact, I feel the provocation cards subtly shift the ideation process from a realm of the wild and wacky to something more feasible, or at least imbue the ideas with elements that should be explored further because the cards are made up of concepts and emotions that are universal and human. Stories and storyboards are powerful communication tools. Through our discussions as a group, we added more dimensions to our user and their story, which helped ground the idea in a daily situation. It was interesting that we were able to tie up our two concepts in a ‘life in a day’ type of story for our extreme user, which made our ideas more compelling.

Blog 4 – Creating Personas – rsha2256

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?

In our group, we chose the topic “going to the supermarket”. There were broad similarities, but variances too. The former could have come from our general background – all 4 of us were international masters students. So we were generally conscious of prices.

However, there were many differences as well. Some of us went to the supermarket more often than others. Two of us seldom spent more than 30 minutes in a supermarket. One person spent over an hour because he usually goes as in a group of friends. When we plotted these variables, discrete and continuous, we saw clear patterns. Two of us were closer together in our habits, so it made a lot of sense to create our first persona around this.

The other two members were slightly more different, so it made sense to make another person for that.

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

Yes, it definitely helped. Just the other day, in my interface design class, I was discussing with the instructor that I was usually worried about personas devolving into stereotypes. This exercise, and the preceding lecture, helped me appreciate how personas can be different and useful when done right. I think it’s because we draw from real user stories and quotes. And this is what I’ll focus more on to make it better, because it makes the persona more of a person, and less of a caricature or stereotype.

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