IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Masters of Interactive Design & Electronic Arts student.

Week 9: Visual Storytelling

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

Our storyboard evolved from the key features of the product we wanted to showcase. We began by brainstorming all the elements we wanted to include in the video and the storyline and key scenes evolved from there. We felt having 1 actor would help properly convey the story without overcomplicating it with 2 actors as the product (Aerobo) is the key. We also choose a voice over to share all the key features of the product and ensure the viewer is focussed on Aerobo rather than following an elaborate conversation/story in a 1 minute timeframe.


2. What motivated your choice of storyline structure?

Our main motivation was to share the user’s journey and key situations where the user would interact with Aerobo in order to show off it’s capabilities. This began by filming in the kitchen, then the garden and finally the user leaving the house.


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

The potential user of the product is anyone in general so we created a product ad with wide appeal and is relatable to the masses. We chose appropriate music that was engaging and fun. We wanted the video to convey our key messages but not be too serious in order to capture our audience.


Week 8: Evaluation

  1. What kinds of information and insight did it give you about the usability of the prototype?I tested my friend Lyndon on buying tickets to the opera. As an evaluator, the observation testing was really insightful because not only was I noting his comments as he was using the “prototype”, but also I was observing his non-verbal behaviours. He had no problems searching to find the tickets so the insights were limited. I can see how this method would be beneficial for prototype testing that may be in earlier stages and involve more interaction with the user. Since this was a very polished website, the experience was generally pretty good. As a user, I had to buy the tablet on the Officeworks website. This was less intuitive than the Sydney Opera House website so there was more commentary when I was interacting with the prototype. It was interesting to see how my interactions when I’m having to be mindful of “thinking-out loud” influences my experience. I was never a huge fan of the Officeworks website but after testing it for this exercise, I realise why I don’t like it and it uncovered some new insights on what makes the website so bad and potential ways to improve it.
  2. What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?I found this type of user observation testing very insightful. Being able to observe a user interact with a prototype beyond just noting verbal cues would be very helpful – especially when designs are in a more primitive or concept stage. This method easily uncovered issues relating to the usability of website (in particular the Officeworks one) when in the past, I’ve never been conscious of this. This method obviously relies heavily on the user feeding back to the observer and I think because it’s not a natural behaviour, I can see how this could be frustrating to the observer if the user was not providing constant feedback. From a user’s perspective, being mindful of providing constant commentary detracts from being able to fully interact with the prototype and this in turn makes the interaction less indicative of a real life situation and experience and perhaps impacts upon the accuracy of the insights.

Week 6: Experience Prototyping

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

This activity was very fun! We were the only group that chose the topic of “Improving Doctor Waiting Rooms”. We rearranged our chairs to mimic a doctor’s waiting room and started to brainstorm ideas of our own frustrations when sitting in a waiting room. Being able to act out ways to improve the waiting room experience was key in unlocking insights and show how others (or in this case patients) can unknowingly interact with one another and this helped in our ideation. Also, sometimes writing observations down or brainstorming can limit our train of thought – being able to act out and generate ideas as they came to mind helped with continuously creating new and novel insights.

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

Yes, we created our own props to use in our bodystorming session which were a result of our idea generation. We were able to test our ideas in real time through the act of roleplaying and this brought to life new ideas that a designer may easily overlook when sitting behind a desk brainstorming but not being an active participant in the problem that requires an innovative solution.

3. What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

It was challenging at first because we sometimes couldn’t figure out how to act out specific scenarios without certain types of products or machinery.  It was sometimes easier to just talk about what we were thinking than to act it out, but it definitely helped us come up with more ideas than usual and elaborate on them in more detail.

4. Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

I can imagine that bodystorming lends itself to being much more insightful if tangible products were being tested. I guess I usually imagine bodystorming to test how a user’s body interacts with a particular product. In our case, roleplaying a doctor’s waiting room with minimal to no props made it a little difficult to imagine and perhaps not as productive as it could be if the room were actually designed and created to represent an actual doctor’s waiting room. I would then imagine that bodystorming would be suitable if designers had a budget to create certain scenarios/backdrops and could use props to encourage new ideas from users.


Research Report Poster:

sgod2591_A1 Poster

Feedback from peers:


Please excuse the poor photography skills… In case you can’t read the post-it notes, the peer feedback was as follows:

  • I didn’t know that people would recycle more if they knew what happened to their recycling
  • I didn’t know that many people did not know what materials to recycle
  • I didn’t know that the majority of people recycled the wrong materials
  • Tell me more about people’s attitudes towards recycling
  • Tell me more of how this idea would be marketed. It’s a great idea but does it have scaleability?
  • Have you heard about worm farming?
  • Have you thought about linking concept 2 & 3?
  • Have you thought about monitoring other aspects of compost beyond Ph Levels, temperature & moisture?
  • What are the design precedents?

Week 4: Empathy & Defamiliarisation

Lessons learnt from Empathy & Defamilarisation exercises.
First activity: Reflective listening.
Myself and Sally took the speaker and listener roles in turn and choose the following thought provoking topics:
– Where we would imagine ourselves in 20 years time
– Things we enjoy in life
– Things we think would make this world a better place
The topics incited some deep discussion and the prevalent emotions from this exercise were: happiness, confusion, optimism, frustration, sadness and anger (in order of the discussion topic). I felt more comfortable being the speaker as I’m generally an extroverted person and enjoy conversing with others. The key things I was mindful of as a listener were – nodding in agreeance or to show that I’m listening and paraphrasing key points Sally shared with me back to her. In terms of being a speaker, I was more aware of slowing down the pace of my conversation but I much prefer 2 way conversation than it being just me speaking and the receiver purely listening, nodding and reiterating what I said at the end. I felt it was unnatural and somewhat contrived for one person to be speaking and the other to be only listening – I feel this is not indicative of reality when we generally partake in 2 way conversation in our daily lives. However, I appreciate that for the intent for this exercise, learning how to be an active listener is critical in our ability to gain empathy towards others.
The activity of defamiliarisation was really interesting and forced me to see a very different perspective. I rarely pay much attention to my surroundings when I’m on a train or a bus so having to write all my thoughts and emotions down from watching the video was very insightful. There were many things that I would never have noticed had I not had to reflect on these situations in more detail – for example, the movements and sounds of other people at a train station and the loud engine noise of a bus. This exercise made me realise just how quickly we become familiar to various aspects and activities in our life that we rarely take a step back to see the ‘whole picture’ in action. After seeing this new perspective, I can appreciate how this would serve as a great technique in developing new insights through user testing.
I found the exercise of ‘experience modelling’ the hardest as losing your vision and relying on other senses generally takes a while to adjust (at the best of times) and being in a confined, unfamiliar room with a large group of people made using my other senses even more difficult. Nevertheless, I can understand how this type of technique would be helpful in gaining new perspectives. Going back to the context of public transport, I’ve never really paid much attention to the sounds from the train announcements and beeping of the closing doors but this activity has made me appreciate how these sounds would make a huge difference for those who are vision impaired. Unfortunately, it seems that buses on the other hand, do not cater to people with impairments to the same degree and I wonder how a blind person would be able to know what bus stop to get off at? For me, this particular exercise was the most insightful and unlocked some potential design ideas as a result of empathising with different users and seeing a new perspective.
Until next time,

Week 2: Interpreting Data

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

I realised that when writing down observations (vs just reading the transcripts), the interviewee’s needs, attitudes and behaviour became more obvious and pronounced which allowed me to identify overarching trends more clearly.

Admittedly, at the beginning of the transcript, I felt it was difficult to build empathy with the interviewee since his perceptions, behaviour and travel habits were very hard to relate to and understand. I also felt at times very frustrated because the interviewee was often hypocritical in his recounts and quite stubborn in his ways. However, over time, as the interviewer dug deeper and asked more questions, I was able to build a pretty good profile of the interviewee which made me understand his background and behavioural tendencies a bit more. As a result, I was more empathetic in my observations of him.

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

Kind of.

Yes in that despite the varied and dynamic personalities of the various interviewees, we could start to visualise the similarities and identify commonalities of needs/attitudes amongst the participants. It also helped me align my observations in relation to other people’s findings versus focussing too much on my interviewee’s isolated needs – which are not necessarily indicative of the overarching issues presented by the total group.

No, because of some challenges (see question 3) which impacted upon my ability to fully unlock the users’ needs and make inferences from the data.

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

I found this activity quite challenging for a couple of reasons:

    1. It was hard to cluster information when each team member had different interpretations of and ways to communicate the needs/insights of the interviewees (ie. some people went into a lot of detail versus others who summarised top line information). In hindsight, it would have been beneficial to have decided upon a consistent format, language and number of observations amongst the team prior to the exercise.
    2. Also, it wasn’t clear to me exactly what the brief was and what the context/background was behind the interviews. As a result, it was hard to decipher which observations were relevant versus our own personal interpretations of what might be useful information. For example, I wrote down a heap of observations because I wasn’t sure exactly what was relevant and so I didn’t want to miss out on any information that could potentially be helpful. Had I been given background information or was clear on what the project/brief was, it would have made a huge difference in focusing on observations that were useful.
    3. Probably as a consequence of point 2, there were A LOT of post-it notes within our group which then needed to be categorised. Unsurprisingly, this took a lot of time and effort especially because we all had different interpretations of the data and how to categorise these in the best way. As a result, there were quite a few ambiguous and repetitive categories which without knowing what the brief was, I’m not sure whether these categories were useful or insightful in any way.

Until next week,


Reflection Week 1: Sketchnoting

In the spirit of this week’s tutorial topic, I thought I’d try my hand at sketchnoting the answers to the questions (mainly because I’m in dire need of practice…)

1. How is this sketchnoting technique different to the traditional note taking? 

Here are 5 key ways Sketchnoting is different to note taking:


Here’s 5 key ways note taking is different from sketching:


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


3. Personal challenges as a sketchnoter


Until next week,



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