- How did thinking in terms of shots and scenes influence your approach to communicating your design concept?
The design concept our group wants to pitch is a smart watch that can assess people’s mental health. To give a comprehensive understanding of the concept, we narrate some shots and scenes by answering these six questions: what, who, where, when, how, why. The basic structure helps us easily organize the detailed information of the product and generate a general story content, which could vividly show the usability of this technology.
With the help of index cards in the process of planning shots and scenes, it is flexible for us to arrange and rearrange the story structure. For instance, we can easily switch the existing scenes in order to create a teaser. The rehearsal inspires us with artistic ideas to make our approach fascinating and attractive.
- What motivated your choice of storyline structure? Can you think of an exemplar from a film that uses the same structure?
The problem our concept want to solve is the key element that motivates our storyline structure. Our product is designed especially for international students to improve their awareness of mental disorders. To provide a great delivery of this idea, we set a transition in our story structure. The first half of the story is dark, sad and depressing. It shows a girl alone in a classroom. Around her, there are students having their friend’s accompanying. The loneliness drives her uncomfortable. The second half is light, pleasant and enjoyable. It is the turning point in the story. The girl’s friend notices the girl’s low mood ranking from the product. She worries the girl so she shows up after the class to give the girl a surprise. The end of the scene presents a close-up shot of the two girls’ bright smile.
We learned from the advertisement “leftover women” by the cosmetic brand SK-II. The advertisement uses the same structure. Its first half is the leftovers’ plight in today’s society. It shows blames from their parents and misunderstandings of their relatives about their unmarried state. The second half is the transition that displays the social acceptance of the leftovers. They are not as depressive as they are in the first half of the story. The climax in the story structure brings a strong contrast which may heighten the enthusiasm of the audience.
- What choices did you make about audience and style? Were they related?
As mentioned in Question 2, our user group is students, which is a young and passionate group. So, we need to express something that could cater to their feelings and interests at their age. For instance, one of the locations we choose is school. The place which is familiar to our audiences can help earn their empathy and increase their engagement.
- Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?
I chose a pair of chopsticks from my kitchen as the object. It is made of wood and painted in brown. The pair of chopsticks is thin and tapered. It is about 25 cm in length. I use it frequently when I serve or eat food. It is easy to pick up for the light weight.
However, in the exercise, my initial understandings of the affordances of chopsticks has been broadened. We imaged that we used chopsticks in our bedroom. It could work as a hair accessory to help us twist our hair in a bun and keep our hair out of our face when we could not find a hairpin. My friend thought it could also be a cable organizer for our headphone cables. By hanging the headphone cables on the chopsticks, it could help the cables well organized and make them easily accessible when we needed them. It could improve the messing up with headphone cables.
- 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.
In the manipulation of the object, I have wrapped the top of the two chopsticks and let my partner have a try. From her feedback, she said that she felt restricted and controlled when she used the manipulated chopsticks to pick up food. But it might be helpful for the beginners who learn to use chopsticks. Because of the fix of the top of the two chopsticks, it decreased the flexibility of the normal chopsticks which could make their use movement more stable.
In the manipulation of the user, I put three books on my partner’s right arm when she used her right hand to use chopsticks. Her right hand, together with the chopsticks in her hand, were shaking wildly because of the attached weights. It reminded us of the group of users whose arms always feel weak. It might be difficult for them to use chopsticks like other ordinary people.
The manipulation exercise takes a small insight into the possible interactions with chopsticks through exploring the affordances of the object. It helped us come up with many practical ideas and suggestions for user-friendly design. For example, particular groups of users might be attached importance to in the process of exploring affordances.
For each of 2 techniques (user observation, thinking-aloud)
- What kind of information and insights did it give you about the usability of the prototype?
User observation addresses the physical behaviours of users in the interactions with the product. For instance, in the task of booking tickets, we utilized user observation to evaluate the website Seymour. From recording the verbal and non-verbal behaviours of the user, which part of the website is well or poorly designed can be explored. When our tester entered the website and smiled with positive comments, it revealed that the homepage catered to the user’s preference. Meanwhile, the user moved her head closer to the screen when she saw the ticket information, which pointed out the font size of the website was small for her.
Thinking-aloud only focuses on the verbal behaviours of users. Through recording their descriptions of what they are doing, thinking and feeling, where users are satisfied or dissatisfied with the product can be reflected. We used thinking-aloud to perform the Officeworks exercise. Following the user’s verbal behaviours in each step, we got feedbacks of the actual experience of using the website Officeworks. For example, “why the search results show me computer accessories after I typed ‘tablet’ in”, said the user. It provided the clue that there might be some issues in filtering and sorting search results.
- What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?
Both the techniques (user observation, thinking-aloud) provide an easy way to help evaluate the usability of the product. As useful techniques, user observation and thinking-aloud both work well in understanding user’s feelings, thoughts, and demands.
User observation shows its superiority in visualizing user feelings compared to thinking-aloud. With vivid images of non-verbal behaviours and simple note-taking mode of verbal behaviours, user observation makes the product evaluation easier. As for me, it is hard to write a lot in a short time especially when I do multitasking (observe the user and take notes at once). So, user observation does well in recording the user feedback of the product in shorthand.
Thinking-aloud provides more details than user observation in user’s thought processes. But a shortcoming of the technique is that if a user speaks less and cannot provide enough verbal behaviours, the evaluation might fail. Because thinking-aloud relies on the act of describing, how the participant acts will greatly impact the outcomes of the product evaluation.
- How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?
Physical warm-up helps us to generate ideas and assumptions from little things in life. As a talker, keeping talking continually drives us to notice the nonsenses experiences and stories around us. It pushes us to think and express our ideas and values though giving an insight into our trivial acts.
Meanwhile, the mode ‘walk and talk’ creates a comfortable atmosphere for us to think and behave naturally. As people relax, blocked information may emerge from their long-term memory. Great concepts and alternatives could be come up with in the process, which provides an effective way for communication.
- Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through bodystorming? In what way?
Yes, we refined our ideas and solutions to improve the qualities of the doctors waiting rooms through bodystorming. In our group, we thought some potential problems of the doctor waiting room and then simulated the scenarios through role playing. Through looking into the specifics of the scenarios, it is helpful to rethink the previous proposed issues and challenges in doctors waiting rooms.
For example, as the group of five, we divided our roles as one observer, one doctor, one reception and two patients. By interpreting the scenario for help-seeking, some issues were exposed, for instance, the low working efficiency for first aid. The possible reasons could also be figured out through the simulation, thereby helping the problem-solving.
- What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?
I think the biggest challenge is that if we have little knowledge or background in the study area, it would hinder the bodystorming, together with the accuracy of the achieved outcomes.
Still use the task ‘improving doctors waiting rooms’ as an example. As an international student who have no experience of seeing a doctor abroad, I did know how the doctor waiting room was like and how the treatment procedures worked. Because there are many differences between China and Western countries in medical treatment. It brought difficulty in simulating the scenarios of seeing the doctor. It also affected the exploration of the problem-solving.
- Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?
It depends. Because we simulate specific scenarios in bodystorming, it could help solve certain types of problems. For example, We found that issue that the seats were not conformable from one of our patient who hurt her legs. According to this, we have designed some special seats for assisting this particular group. In this case,
However, we also found that there might be new issues appearing in the simulation, which might broaden the problem area.
- 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?
Taking the position of an Extreme User makes it easy for the designer to empathise with users. By putting ourselves in the character’s shoes, we could better understand his motivations and behaviours. It is not like the normal way to build empathy because the characters are created by ourselves, which is not real.
Our group chose the Romantics as the extreme user. Each of us came up with one character of the romantics and imaged how each character would acted in their daily life. By acting from the character’s perspective, we set the story concerned with their needs and feelings, thereby finalising our design concept (details specified in the attached pictures).
The activity is so innovative that helps our creative thinking. Because the prospective users are imaged by ourselves, it gives much room to make designs. However, whether the role playing and the ideal narratives are objective is hard to control.
- 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 think the storyboards helped us a lot in our group design work. Compared to texts, the visual version is more direct and vivid for the delivery of our ideas. Sketching the narratives in comic book style makes the dynamics of interactions simple and easy to understand. Following the storyboards, we can clearly present the storyline and the design concept in a logical and organised way.
Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise a). reflective listening b). defamiliarisation of everyday reality c). empathic modelling
a). Reflective listening
Through experiencing the role as an interviewer and the role as an interviewee, I do not think either the two roles are easy to play.
As a listener, finding a right angle to draw the interviewee in is essential. Although the major role of a listener is to listen and to reflect what the speaker narrates, to help the speaker broaden his mind and start the conversation is also a listener’s responsibility. Attractive interview questions relevant to the conversation topic can push the speaker to naturally talk more about his experiences, needs and thoughts, which might be great helpful for the listener to gain a comprehensive understanding of the person.
For me, I feel more comfortable as a listener compared to being a speaker because I am not a talkative person. A great speaker can easily be aware of things happened in daily life, and he can present his feelings and sensations in a well-organized structure. Hopefully my partner in the reflective listening activity is such a good talker. She is mindful, and she gives more about her own experiences, which means a large amount of information for a listener to help get better understanding of the interviewee.
b). Defamiliarisation of everyday reality
Based on the observation on the videos about Sydney train and bus, it reflects some problems of the public transport that I did not pay attention to before. For example, according to the shaky situation in the video, I have just been conscious of the high speed of the bus, which reminds me of some experiences beyond what I usually think.
Defamiliarisation provides a very direct way to help record everyday reality and adds different perspectives of the same product or service. It brings a vivid way to present the sensations and feelings of users and helps build the empathy comprehensively.
However, gaining much information according to the situation is a challenge for me. I am not a mindful person. What I grasp from the video is not that much. So, when I do the defamiliarisation of the second video, I kept writing down notes while observing the situation. Meanwhile, I tried to use all my senses on the video especially on the images and sounds. I think it does great help for me in the process of defamiliarisation.
c). Empathic modelling
Empathic modelling is the most interesting part in the tutorial. By using the cling wrap to protect the iPhone camera and glasses, it creates a different world we used to be familiar with.
Looking through the cling wrap helps us experience how some special community feel such as the amblyopia group. It puts ourselves in the shoes of these people and lets us know what they really need.
From the activity, I find that I used to ignore some important properties, for example, colour. From the photos I have taken through the cling wrap, it is hard to figure out which colour it is with the reduced sight. The method teaches me to pay more attention to the needs of some particular group and helps broaden my perspectives in the process of building empathy with users.
- 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?
Our group chose the topic ‘catching public transport’. Firstly, we worked in pairs to interview each other about the experiences with the public transport and created a single persona. To better generate the profile of the interviewed person, my interview questions were designed based on the behaviours of the person, focusing on the interviewee’s motivations, frustrations and the feelings of using transport (e.g. why you go to school by train?).
Then we gathered our interview data and made comparisons, thereby identifying the variables. Cause the four people in our group are all international students from China, our user characteristics are similar (e.g. age, nationality, culture background, preferences). For example, according to our analysis, we have two same purposes of using transport. One is to go to school, another is to hang out. Furthermore, when sharing the experiences of using transport, we all considers the scenarios in the frequency and the approximate cost on transport. So, for me I think there was enough commonality between our 4 group members.
- Do you think your final persona(s) was successful in generating empathy with users? What would you change to make it better?
Although we achieved enough commonality and generated final personas, there are still some limitations existing.
One big limitation is that we only have four pieces of interview data. It is not that much representative and reliable because of the thin facts and statistics.
Another problem is that we all played the role as an interviewer and the role as an interviewee. Listening to other’s answers might influence your personal response to the interview questions. Because similar experiences or reasonable evidences are persuasive, interviewers could easily build empathy with the interviewees. If interviewers are also interviewees, it might also impact the validity and the diversity of the gather data.
Therefore, to get better results and build correct empathy with users, we might increase the number of interviewees to guarantee the diversity of the collected data. Moreover, interviewers are not allowed to attend the interviews as an interviewee.