IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind






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

The consideration of shots and scenes encourages me to rethink about the design concept cause I need to figure out clearly what to present my design concept to others though some simple pieces of scenes. And in return, the forming of scenes and shots also enable me to examine whether the concept is reasonable or comprehensive through the scenes we creates, it is kind of like a process to help you go through the whole design in the reality and see how such thing works by people in the real life.

  1. What motivated your choice of storyline structure? Can you think of an exemplar from a film that uses the same structure?

First we figured out the key points of our storyline which were “who”, “what”, “when”, “how”, “why”, and while we wrote down all the key elements, we introduced our story in temporal sequence, from the wife getting the stuff to she sending it to her husband, and then how her husband use it and what happened next. We tried to chosen the scenes which could illustrated all the elements and the characters of the design through these selected scenes. And I think it is similar to the movie “still Alice” which also tells the whole story in temporal sequence.

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

Cause we have a clear target for our design who are the people who have the intention but fail to quit smoking successfully, so we will film the video from the first perspective, creating the scene how a smoker interacts with the product and how it works. As the character is high relevant with our design target, so I think such way can show a closer empathy with the audience and encourage them to put themselves in the same situation so they will be more easily to understand how the product would or not work with them.


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

In the exercise, I chose a small spoon which is made of stainless steel. Its affordances can be easily be understood by its shape through our daily experience. However, as we are so familiar with its uses, it restricts my understanding of its potential affordances. Through the course, as we were encouraged to change its appearance texture, it enables me to explore some more new affordances of this objects.

First is the way to use the spoon, while the spoon itself is shaped smoothly with a flat handle for people to carry, I instinctively wrapped the handle with cling wrap, trying to make it more like a column-shaped and increase the radius of it so it would be more fitted and comfortable when people carry it.

Also, after I did some changes to the handle, I was encouraged to do more on this part, and then I made a ring on the top of it, I thought, though it would not be a perfect way, a way to store it after washed, the spoons can hang on shelf easily which makes it more easily be dried.

The other thing I thought of when I was trying to do some changes on the spoon was that there may be some possibility that while the hollow part of the spoon contains the liquid, the opposite part of it-the raised part can be some other uses like squashing something or uses in other way.

  1. 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

As J.J.Gibson states that the “affordance is a relational property between the creature and its environment in the act of perception”. And also it is very interesting to see the example that the frog regards the lily pad as a platform for it to jump and rest. The understanding of such potential of exploration of different affordances of the certain products is further strengthened through the exercise.

By using the chopsticks in different situation, firstly, by blindfolding my eyes, I can still easily find the chopsticks among all the stuffs on the desk and could carry it as usual, for the shape of them are highly perceptible by the wooden material and the long and thin shape, I could even easily identified the right direction of the chopsticks as one side of it be clear thinner than the opposite side. By doing this, I clearly realized, which I never think seriously before, that the differences of the two sides not only created for picking the food easily, but also easily to identify and carry on the thicker side. However, when wrapped it in a whole by the cling wrap, I might still guess it but could not identify which side I should hold.

Through this exercise, I find out that while designing something, we should consider the need of the product for most people’s benefit, like the spoon, its shape and texture are seem to be carefully designed for its major use, however, the attribute of the certain product can be expanded through slightly changing its existing character and through taking different users’ abilities of using such products. Also taken the spoon as example, while most of the people only use it when they eat, but it might has potential to improve by thinking the people who usually wash or use it in another way. How can it be easily washed and stored is another factor which worth exploring.


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


  • User observation

The valuable part of this technique is recording the verbal and non-verbal behaviors such as facial expression and some little gesture while I work on the tasks. These observations are quite useful as they are the most instinctive reflections of me to the task without any consideration. And through those things, like the times I showed smiling or furrowed brow can clearly reflects my experience even I myself did not realize.

  • Think aloud

While the user observation tries to receive insights through users’ external reflections, the think aloud tries to collect the information abut what is happening internal to the user. During the process, I was encouraged to spilt out the feelings towards the task without too much considerations, so I actually expressed the feelings instinctively during that process, and such information taken is more genuine.


  • User observation

It is a good way to encourage the evaluator to observe the user’s direct feeling when focusing on the task. Through such process, the evaluator collect the first-hand information of the users’ experience by their words and more importantly by their facial expression, these are quite visual and easy to understand what major attitude the user have towards the product.

  • Think aloud

By taking the note of what the user say, I think it is like the complementary information combined with the observation, sometime acting as the detail explanation to the observation, to illustrate the user’s experience towards the product, as what the users say are more clear and accurate expression of their feelings. Sometimes, while it may not exactly match with the result of observation which encourage the evaluator to discover deeply through that aspect.

What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?


I think the technique encourages the user to express their ideas and feelings through spilling out the words and facial expression during the process, and such information collected can reflect the most genuine feelings of the users, however, when I was doing the task, my group member, In order to have a better record for the user observation part, she encouraged me to talk while I was searching on the website, but indeed I didn’t know what to say, I felt like, for myself, distracted by saying when I tried to focus on doing something. So, I think quite positive on the observation of user’s facial expression, but I doubt that they can get much through what I said.


As mentioned before, for the evaluator, I think the user observation or the think aloud together try to provide them with the direct information and insights of the users’ experience through verbal/facial expression or even some micro-gesture even the users don’t notice. Such information are much more direct and genuine compared to others like face to face interviews.

However, there are some difficulties in collecting information from such technique. Firstly, while users are doing the task, they are more likely to concentrate on the screen so it might be difficult to capture their facial expression. Secondly, the reaction to the things might vary remarkably, not only because of their different attitudes towards the things, but also depend on the people’s character, like me, I don’t like saying too much when I am doing something on hand, and also, I am not a sensitive or emotional people, so even sometimes I am upset or frustrated or satisfied by the things, I might not express too much facially which might leads to the level of difficult to the observers.


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

While just sitting there trying to figure out the ideas, it would largely depend on the people’s own experiences or common sense related to the problem, it has great limits in exploring ideas as the ideas are likely coming from the analysis based on what people have in their brain, but the physically acting, on the other hand, is not only the way trying to imitate the situation to deeply understand the problem but at the meantime being an effective way to inspiring yourself and other people through the visual gesture.

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

Definitely yes, we worked on the sleeping issue on the plane and at the beginning our group indeed found an idea to solve most of the problems we think would leaded to sleep issue on the plane, the only one we could not solve was the interruption of people sitting beside going to the toilet, cause at the beginning we thought it hard to control other’s behavior, but after we imitated the situation on the plane, sitting in a narrow space and adjusted the way we sat, we then thought of the seat rotating could actually spare more spaces for the people to walk.

  1. What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

I think the most challenging thing about bodystorming is the situation we create should be as accurate as possible, otherwise it is not likely to put forward a valued solution, like the idea mentioned before, though we think it is a good idea to automatically rotate the seat when needed, nevertheless, the situation we created was simply using the chair to array in row within a short distance, however, the accuracy of the situation is highly relevant to the solution, the space between the rows and between the seats are critical elements to make the solutions work successfully.

So in all, it is not easy to imitate a 100% same situation as what leads to the problem and the effectiveness of solutions put forward might vary remarkably.

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

Yes, I think the first problems is, as mentioned before, that the imitating situation might not be accurate which leads to a false solution. Secondly, the performing varies from people based on their different cultural background/ experiences and their own understanding of the issues. So this will definitely leads to different ideas which might distract the way of solving problems.

However, though I think it may, to some extent, misunderstand people and leads them to the wrong way of solving problems, but in general, it is quite a good and interesting way to inspire people to explore their ideas through that.


  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?


During the exercise, each of us creates his own story of an extreme user, and though we, three group members chose the same type of user, we created quite different users’ background from age gender and experience. I think it is helpful to understand the design challenge to some extent, as it is kind of like a way to broaden one’s ideas by integrating with others. And during this process, it is also a good way to get some inspirations for dealing with the challenges.

It is quite different from other way of generating ideas and empathy, while the other ways like affinity diagram or the empathic modeling are mainly from the potential users’ perspectives which I think are more reliable and relevant, the ideas generated by those are more like to meet the expectations of the users. Nevertheless, the extreme users are created by ourselves which mostly based on our similar experience or even our imagination, so I feel like it not as reliable or valuable as the other ways.


  1. 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?


During our exercise, we created a storyboard to illustrate the proposal for the extreme users we chose. And I think while drawing the storyboard, it required us to think our ideas further and more thoroughly as the some details on the ideas needed to be more clear while we tried to illustrate them by the graphs visually. Also, there is no doubt that the storyboard helps other to understand our ideas more easily and attractively. But to be noticed, such storyboards needed to be explained together with verbal explanation. Overall, I think it is quite a good way to integrate the visual storyboard with verbal explanation to help not only other people who first listen to our ideas, but even us who create them to understand the logic and the potential of such proposal more clearly and easily.



Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise

  • Reflective listening

This exercise requires my partner and I started a conversation by choosing a question, and we exchanged the role so both of us experienced being a listener and a speaker.

During the conversation, we both felt casual no matter for being a listener or a speaker. Even be the listener, after throwing out the question, we just needed to listen carefully and patiently to the speaker, but it doesn’t mean being a listener, we just need to listen the whole time, as to the whole conversation, we felt it more like an interaction process. We had continuously interaction between us as sometime the speakers feel like there is some more to tell only when he gets some reflection or question from the listener.

During such exercise, I feel like it similar to the conversation I usually have in my life, in my own opinion, what should be noticed as a listener is that, people may ask some questions related to the topic which can promote the speaker to talk much than expected, but never judge what the people say, this is the basic principle as showing the respect to others.

As a speaker, the well-paced rhythm might be the most important thing to keep in mind. And also it would be better if could express the feelings and what you actually thought as much as you could.

However, the exercise between us, for me, might not reflect the real situation in the future interview. As we both are students and have similar cultural background, age and experience. It would be totally different when interview some one who might be quite different from you in terms of age, occupation and cultural background. All of them would make the interview much more difficult and stressful. And it is likely that with the stranger, the conversation would not go as smoothly as expected.

  • Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

I think this exercise is quite interesting to explore the experience and feeling of the things that we think are so familiar which we would easily ignore them.

Through such exercise, I, to my surprise, found that I feel quite the opposite between the mode of train and the bus which I didn’t realize before. Especially within the limited time and the freely reflection on whatever I think. In my first impression after the video, I felt calm down and peaceful for the train station and felt comfortable seeing people waiting or walking at the platform. However, while turned to the situation of taking the bus, I felt totally uncomfortable at that time as I could smell the unwell smelling in the bus, the shaking bus affected my stomach. However, when I discussed these with my partner, she had quite the different feeling by watching the same video. And she focused on the details of the appearance of the station and the bus interior.

I think this exercise is quite important to know how the people think about the things, and it is much trustful than the interviews as this way show straightway what the people thinks about some things or some experience. It is more genuine and more personal.

  • Empathic modeling

While the exercises learnt in the course before are all about establish a relationship with the prospective users in order to know what the users need. Sometime it may be different what we get from what the users really wants as the different cultural background or knowledge may lead to the deviation. However, the empathic modeling tends to put yourself in the shoes of others which enable you to understand other’s feeling immediately. Like the exercise we did in the class, by simply covering the glass with cling wrap, we create similar situation to the people who do not have clear eyesight, and we could immediately experience the difficulty of them being in daily life. Since that, we can more likely put forward men-centered design.

Nevertheless, when I think this is the most efficient and effective way to understand the user’s need. I also think it is not easy to conduct some empathic modeling in some case. So it is still worthy combine different kinds of researches to get much more comprehensive and accurate information to achieve the solution.


  1. Describe your experience of creating a single persona from different users’ 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?

To create a single persona, we divided our six people into three pairs and did basic interview with each other with the same questions about the experience of going to supermarkets. After we gathered the relevant ideas of all six of us we tired to grouping them from several variables like “how often the user goes to the supermarkets”, the level of price/quality care”. We kind of listed fourteen variables. There is a distinctive group which shared much similarities in the supermarket shopping experiences. At last, we tried to create a persona which actually has his own unique experience or idea in shopping in the supermarket.

In my opinion, I think six interviewees are enough to for a coherent persona, however, from our exercises, I don’t think it of too much value in targeting the idea of improvement of shopping in supermarket and the reason is mainly that because most of us share similar background as full time students. The way of living is quite similar than those from different occupation background.

So I think in order to create a persona which can lead to a successful user-centered design strategy, except the number of interviewees, the wide range of interviewees from different background is essential to ensure the strategy can meet various people’ need instead of a certain kind of people.

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

Overall, the final persona we created was not quite successful as the interviewees share the very similar background. So even we identified a lot of commonality between the interviewees, it cannot represent the idea of most of the people in the society.

So to make it better and more successful in delivering the user-centered strategy, as mentioned before, enough number of interviewees from a wide range of background is the key point, also, it is important to know what variables should we examine in order to form a coherent persona. This step is important but also difficult which requires more practice and experience as for the beginners it is confusing in what kinds of variables are needed to examine to form a persona. For me, it is kind of like but even a bit more difficult than the information gathering in affinity diagram.

[will upload the image when the space is available]

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