IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Heidi Pan, student of (MA)Interaction Design and Electronic Arts

Reflection 07 – tpan6340


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

A: The object I choose is coffee filter paper.   I started with the most obvious affordance – as it is made by paper which is with great flexibility and variability to afford cutting, rubbing and re-shaping, that formed my first 3 ideas.   Then I identified it is thiner than normal A4 paper which made it pervious to lights, based on that it could be used as lampshade.     Then we started to exchange ideas with classmates and match different things together to discover more hidden affordance, we talked about it could afford pressing, protecting from heat, drawing, feeling(the roughness) and etc.   Far from the initial understandings of its obvious affordances, when we went further with the exercise we thought of more recessive traits to serve for unconventional use and design.

“The essence of an affordance is that it points both ways to the object and to the organism. An affordance is an emergent property of an object. The affordance is there, it has always been there, but it needs to be perceived to be realised. ” –Michael Hammond, 2010

Q: 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.

A:  I believe all the affordance of an existed item are already there, it depends on our observability, perceptual ability to identify them.

I could imagine people have different culture background and previous experience of encountering with this certain item or its related items would affect the discovery results. Moreover, under different circumstances we might use the same item differently, my process of reading the affordances out of one item is to imagine using this item in variable situations and to cross check this item with other random items to dig out more affordances by comparison.

I think I would be benefited from identifying affordance of an item as it would give me a better vision of its constrains and opportunities.  So as a designer I can work on the constrains to make changes and play with the opportunities to widen up the design scope.



w6 – tpan6340

How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?

H:  By observing and participating in the situation, we’d gain more accurate understanding of contextual factors.  We act out the problems/issues that we had imagined in our own minds then receive feedback from the imitated environment even possible to interact with the set-ups as well as with our peers, thus same as brain storming, we are not design individually but leverage on the team knowledge and creativeness to generate more ideas.

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

H: We did.  We identified that space is a big issue preventing people to comfortably rest themselves on the plane, we didn’t think of a sliding chair until we really sit in the chairs narrowly lined into two rows locked us up in a small space, we were desperately trying to move the seats, adjusting the back is far from enough.  After I got home I was still thinking of this bad user experience and refined the sliding chair to put it on top of a slope thus with the constrain of space in economic class sliding back and raise the seat height could provide more space for legs.


What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

H: We couldn’t simulate the environment to be exactly same as the real one, we could miss out on certain factors that were not successfully mirrored from its original situation. 

Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

H: Group contribution is crucial to bodystorming, it is more demanding than brainstorming in requirement of having a group of active and expressive team players.   While the process brought us new ways of thinking and new discoveries,  there are chances that we amplified on the wrong issues or exaggerated issues because the process could be manipulated by people’s acting and performance, it might lend to lacking impartial attention to all factors, we could only be able to notice the issues that can be performed and miss out those can not be interpreted by us (amateur actors).




Research Poster – International travellers ride on opposite side – Community wellbeing – safety


A: 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?

H: It is different, most of the time we are designing for the majority, we extract user patterns from the most common user behaviours.  Playing the role of extreme user is a productive way to generate ideas, as those users not only overemphasize thoughts and behaviours that all consumers may share, they might also have niche requirements that is less used by other normal users.  Knowing the connection between this extreme user with the product/service is stronger than normal users, it magnifies user requirements and raises expectations which always motivates me.


A: 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?

In the beginning when we had a lot ideas to combine from 5 members’ individual user personas we didn’t feel the need for provocation cards, while later on we met block points in the middle of generating user story, we picked up a few provocation cards just to give it a try and it somehow did helped us to find a new story line even though the words we withdrew seems were crazily irrelevant to our subject.


tpan6340 – Tutorial 04 -Empathy & Defamiliarisation

1.1Reflective listening

H: I used to watch my fellow user researcher conducting focus group, impressed by how him turned completely into another person during the interview, patient, neutral and reflective, that person we knew with the loudest voice and strongest opinions disappeared.   I was rather glad to put on researcher’s suit more often in this course.

Being the audience side of the interview and strictly talk back without leading people is not easy,  I feel there is this delicate line once across the interview could turn into a discussion but if I stay too far away from the conversation my interviewee shuts down.   It takes practice to curb the way I normally talk but to use more neutral way to encourage other people express more.

1.2Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

H: My take aways from practicing defamiliarisation is it helped to reinforce the importance of user centred design should be done upon observation and reflection on the common behaviour and obvious elements of every day life.   Constantly try look at things at another perspective, try not to connect dots together too fast, try to unlock the old mindset, try to criticize about every details and try to find creativity in the most familiar things.

1.3Empathic modelling

H: Through modelling, I experimented the world of short sight, low light and blurry shape. The way we simulate this environment could be used to build deeper empathy when design for accessibility.  Being not able to rely on my most trusted sense to recon the environment was terrifying as well as inspiring.  I also needed to leverage on other senses to make up the shortage of sight which pretty successfully defamiliarised my everyday reality.

2.Complement your reflections with photographs of the process
3.Public transport defamiliarisation form



tpan6340 – W3- Persona exercise

1.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?

A: The four of us decided to talk about public transportation, during the cross interview, we all brought in different facts and perspectives towards the way we interact with the public transportation system.  The diversity came from our different living area, travel agenda, travel frequency and more or less from our culture background. Following the instructions, we dropped interviewee names on 8 demographic and behavioural axes then some obvious patterns emerged up, from which we can see the names of two suburb based girls constantly appear next to each other, representing the users who live far from the inner city and have no choice but to use public transportation everyday, they are sharing surprisingly same likes and dislikes about the system.  We knew this is our persona.

Meanwhile we did debate about if our design would be narrowed if we only build one persona and miss out the needs of those users who live in the central.  Those users have more choices to get to their directions other than public transportation, e.g.: going to somewhere in the city through Uber is more affordable to them than to those who live in the rural area because of the distance.  According to the interview their frustration occurred due to low frequency of the bus and bad stationary information, those disadvantages of public transportation indeed got well covered by services like Uber  – call your own car at your own time reduce the waiting, real time GPS information assures the users they are in control of the trip.    However, if we build another Persona for those users and put these problems under the focus, we could have them regain the confidence of public transportation and use less private cars to reduce the overall traffic burden.

I believe the question if we need a second Persona or even more Personas, the answer is within the project goal, is it towards an overall optimisation of the entire public transportation?  For attracting more people to use it?  Or for improving the core experience of its majority of users?    When there is time limit and cost constrains, we might need to set single Persona to make sure the we are concentrated to achieve project goal most efficiently, otherwise a second or third Persona should be considered for an exhaustive design.

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

A: Yes, our Persona is someone who can fully represent the majority of the users and lightly touches those areas that the rest of the users would go in.     To make this Persona better, I would like to involve more time and efforts in conducting interviews to collect more data from a bigger group of real users.


w3 2.pic_hd

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