IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Blog 8: Evaluation cbre8916

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

As a user I had to interact with the Sydney Opera website to purchase very specific tickets.  I found the website made use of redundancy in its navigation, I could reach the same information from many different paths, but at times I expected to find the information I found in one manner but from a different avenue the information was presented completely differently.  This variation in interface among different paths was very frustrating.  Redundancy in navigation can be effective in a navigation prototype as long as it delivers to the same content.  Also occasionally there would be a page loading error which would make going backwards a necessity.

  1. What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?

I found it quite easy to explain what I did, and did not, like about my interaction with the website while talking aloud.  I found when someone asked me to be analytical about a task I focused much more on what I would have liked more and what would have been more intuitive, if someone had not asked me I would have just accepted what the interface provided me frustration and all.  When observing a user I felt slight frustration in that I saw them fail in their tasks without being able to intervene.  My natural inclination was to correct mistakes made by users or dismiss them, I finally realized that my role was record these issues and learn to identify and rectify these issues after the user has engaged in the task.

Blog entry 6: Body Storming cbre8916

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

The situations became far more real and relatable as we were able to act them out.  The space where users would engage in an activity became more real and imaginable.

  1. Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through Body storming? In what way?

Yes we ran through the scenario of a doctors waiting room a few times and as we did so we began to understand the frustrations we all have experienced in that context and began to empathize more with the predicament. We also began to see what was practical and impractical in the environment and situations of the doctor’s office dismissing notions that were impractical like more staff available in a confined office.


  1. What was difficult or challenging about Bodystorming?

Once a certain scenario had played out in 2 or 3 different ways it became hard to not see the same solutions.  As for the group it was difficult to agree on roles and play them faithfully again and again.  The classroom was also fairly difficult to structure into a believable waiting room setting, I think the illusion would have been stronger and easier to dive into if we visited the environment that was being discussed.

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

Yes.  By far I think problems of an innately physical dimension are easier to solve using bodystorming.  For example if you were designing a new shopping cart you would certainly use bodystorming to practice the ease of putting items from the shelf to the cart, whereas if you were designing a stationary flower pot you might design for aesthetics then the practicality of having to move the flower pot from car to its primary position.

Week 4: Affinity Diagram (cbre8916)

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

This experience of reading interview transcripts of prospective users was exceedingly useful in that it allowed us to view a user’s train of thought captured and preserved to allow for deep reflection.  With a personal dialogue one can get a sense of how the user behaves and pear into their mannerisms and what they deem important.   By pulling out individual perspectives or needs the user had and representing them on single post-its we were able to distil the user’s needs.  By displaying them in clear organization I was able to see the reasoning behind the user’s needs, and begin to understand the logic behind the user’s experience and perspective.  By observing what my partners posted and observed I grew to have a deeper empathy for my user than I could have experienced if I had been the only one analyzing the user’s interview.

  • How did this clustering of information help you understand user needs?

This clustering helped me understand user needs because as we united several different users we were able to see the commonality between users and the common desires and frustrations with the same experience.  Putting the user’s myriad of words from a 5-6 page interview and representing them as single ideas was useful, coming up with a single cluster concept was even more useful.  The relative size of each cluster was also interesting to observe, some ideas that did not appear with my user appeared in enough of the other interviews to be deemed relevant enough to create a cluster all its own.


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

Although not directly applicable to the clustering technique I had several ideas on how to improve the interview technique.  One thing I think may assist with this is to first conduct a transcribed interview and then follow the interview with a questionnaire with open ended questions.  This would retain the entirety of the information but would allow the user the opportunity to condense their thoughts on their own in written form.  I would have also tried to have the transcriber annotate the transcript of the interview so as to make note when a user became very excited or unusually reticent.  There were areas where the transcriber added ellipses to indicate that the user trailed off because of an uncomfortable memory.  A technology that would allow the user to record the user’s observed mental state (happy, comfortable, fidgety, unhappy and upset) via emoticons as the user answered questions would approximate video footage of the interview.

As for the technique of summarizing and organizing user’s needs, I think the technique is quite easy and effective.  I would have recorded more observations than I had.  I think a second layer of clustering could also be useful to further condense the user’s needs.  I would have also focused more on user’s frustrations more heavily so that I could view areas where users want improvement.  I would have asked other groups and individuals to take part in our teams exercise; I believe that each reader took different observations from the interviews.  The more perspectives and eyes on the interview and then on the board would greatly improve the observations.  I would have also further subdivided some groups, as other issues could be buried under one unsatisfactory cluster title.

affinity diagramfinal affinity diagram

Week 3 Persona Template cbre8916

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

There was a lot of commonality in what was desired in public transport experiences.  There were certainly some users that had unique needs given demographic information but once we chose a demographic that could conceivably fit all of our users all of the voices seemed to come together.  Issues especially pertaining to cost and availability of buses were universally experienced by users and so formed common ground for one voice.  I think most of the needs we generated and expressed were so universally appealing that all users were happy to incorporate them into one voice.  Had there been some limit in ideas that could be put forward or in budget there might have been some dissonance within the 4 people interviewed, future exercises may want to experiment with that principle.

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

Yes I do believe our final persona was successful at expressing empathy of the user it represented.  I believe with a system as prevalent as public transportation which is well known and experienced by our student demographic we could imagine ourselves in the place of the user who is similar to us.  Empathy is far more difficult to achieve in a situation that one has never experienced, such as when we developed other personas such as parents or the elderly.  This empathy for users who have experienced things beyond our limited experiences were more challenging but more rewarding to mentally examine.  In our amalgamated persona I would have changed the priority from cost to timeliness and seat availability.  If users had a low fare option but would have to struggle to make use of such an option or had a terrible experience they would view the fare as still incommensurate compared to the service.  I think the average user is willing to pay a slightly higher rate to assure consistency and comfort in transportation.

persona templatevaried persona template

Blog 2- cbre8916

1) How did working through different materials help you to explore and express potential solutions to a design problem?

The variety of materials we used provided unique opportunities and challenges in designing a prototype. After handling the materials for a few seconds I could see that each had fundamental properties. Pipe cleaners were more malleable and therefore promoted easy curves and precision. Cardboard allowed for easy mental transition from my 2 dimensional sketch to my 3 dimensional design.   Finally toothpicks prompted exploration of structural integrity and geometric stability.

2) What kinds of information and inspiration did the different materials give you? Did you have a favourite material?

I found pipe cleaners felt the best at demonstrating the functionality of the design since they are far more flexible and can be altered at any stage. Pipe cleaners did however take longer than cardboard to assemble as cardboard is primarily just cut and folded along primary axis. Toothpicks I believe have a lot of potential as a design material as they are small and far sturdier than either cardboard or pipe cleaners, but the time limitation made it difficult to build a lasting structure in the allotted time.

3) What did you change along the way? What did you learn from your prototypes?

My intention was to create a chair for the exhausted marathon trainer Lisa that would recline completely allowing Lisa to adjust the height of her feet to promote blood flow return. Along the way I changed from a chair that had a standard 4-post support structure and a rectangular seat base to a design with a see saw like support structure and back and leg support that operated like a simple obtuse angle. Since time was short in each prototype I was forced to simplify my design and pick out the simplest and most necessary components of my original idea. By the end of the exercise I had learned that iterations reduce the distracting features and help make a reduction of the necessities.

4) How well did you address your user needs in the various design models you created?

I tried to address the users needs in all of my design models, as it was a simple task to represent that the chair reclines to absolute supine position and can therefore elevate the legs of the user. I believe though that my toothpick model is most rudimentary so does not convey the comfort that my chair would have afforded the user.


Week 1- Improving gift giving experience (cbre8916)


From the outset of the research/questioning phase of the exercise I identified that my partner wanted to give a birthday gift of chocolate cake to a platonic female friend. What appeared at first as a simple interaction became far more complex as I probed deeper. The user believed that the recipient of the gift wanted to begin a romantic relationship with him, while he wanted to clearly demonstrate that friendship was his aim. During questioning, the user disclosed that he felt that anything with high monetary value would have a romantic connotation, therefore he believed that a gift of low or moderate price would diffuse any romantic subtext for good. The prototype I put forward to address this problem was packaging which would clearly impart that the gift had been inexpensive.

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

Working in direct contact with a real person and user was extremely helpful when conducting research and gaining feedback on the user’s gift giving experience.  Working face to face with a user allowed me to not only listen to the user, but also observe the user’s non-verbal cues.  If I had conducted a remote email based survey of my user, I would not have picked up cues that there was more context behind his gift giving experience.  My initial assumption was that the user would want to impress or ingratiate himself with the individual he was giving a gift to, but by probing my user’s intentions I revealed the exact opposite which drastically shifted my thinking on an initial prototype.

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

It was mildly unpleasant to feel as though I did not have enough time to fully expand upon a design or deeply reflect on the users entire experience. Ultimately though having an unfinished design allowed me to easily incorporate feedback from the user into the prototype before my own thoughts became too ridged or linear.

  1. 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?

When I was presented with an equally lowly-resolved prototype as a user I was open to the possibilities and tried to steer the designer towards what I felt would be beneficial or useful in my eyes. By being consulted during the early phase of the designs development I felt I was invested in this and future prototypes, and part of the design process.

  1. 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?

I would have spent more time with the user and delving more in depth into his intentions and expectations of his gift giving experience. I would have tried to push the user more to describe his gift recipient and asked questions provoking him to think about his experience and the gift recipient’s experience. I would have also produced a wider variety of designs during the early phase to experiment more with the user and harvest more feedback.

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

 I would infuse my work with greater breadth of design before approaching a trial user. I would collect more information from the user and tried to speak to other users who are in similar conditions. I would also keep in mind the principle that the user is both a user and a designer who has practical information about the perspective of all potential users.


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