IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind






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]


  1. IMG_3002How did this exercise help you build empathy with prospective users?

The way of building empathy with prospective users is mainly to figure out the motivation, interests needs and frustration of the users through interview, and then classify those information into mainly three hierarchy to put forward the essence of the user’s needs. While I think such way is quite logical and efficient to thoroughly and reasonably understand the need of the prospective users by sort out all the information from the user’s perspective step by step.

Nevertheless, from the first experience, I think it challenge to even capture the basic information I need to further analysis. For example, both my group member and me capture the idea that the user does not like rental car. we could not get further speculation by such information we though was important. Then I realize it is important that we should highlight the “want” and “don’t want” but in the meantime the reason and problem in mind.

Only when we clearly understand what kind of information should be captured and help to find the implication can we efficiently and accurately build empathy with prospective users through the affinity diagram.

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

I think the information, firstly, are high value as they are concise summary of word to be easily understood and analyzed. Secondly the gathering various information abstracted from different observers help to find a much more comprehensive idea of what people need the most as I think people will have different understanding even to the same interview based on their own experience, such way can minimize the misunderstanding of information. Thirdly, and the most importantly is that the information from various interviewers can help to find the similar interests and needs and put forward the most potential and successful solution to meet most of people’s need.

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

As mentioned in the first question, it is important to know what kind of information is needed to make the further implication, this requires the logical analysis and summary skills as we should write down only a few words to help us make the further analysis which must be quite concise and accurate.

Secondly, it is also not easy to summary the information we get and conclude a central need of the prospective users as some information are vague not simply because of the lack of information it sates but also the relationship between the information.

Lastly, it also requires confident for the observers, for me, the first time I did such exercise I did not know what to write down even some information I think was useful or relevant.

I always believe that “practice makes perfect”, after the first exercise, I understand that in the first step we should confidently abstract all the information we think are useful even some of them later proved to be not. And with several time of such summary and analysis, I believe I will become increasingly clear in abstracting the useful information and how to sort the gathering information into group and put forward the essential idea we need.

[will upload the image when the space is available]


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

While the traditional note uses mainly words to express the ideas, the sketchnoting deliver someone’s thought through more visual way-drawings. In my own opinion, both of them have their own advantages, the traditional note requires less skills to clearly catch the information or idea, and also the notes taken by this way seems to be more accurate in reflecting the author’s original idea and be easily to understand by others. The sketchnoting, on the other hand, are with no doubt much more attractive, more visual and casual to other people. Also, I feel like when sketchnoting, it is a way not only try to understand the information I get, but also to express the idea emotionally. Especially when we did the line exercise by hearing the same recodings, everyone drew quite different line to show their various emotions to some extent which I think is quite interesting.

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


I think such visual approach make my ideas more clear and straightforward, and when I sketchnote the ideas I can immediately understand whether I catch or present the ideas properly when see the visual information showed in front of me. However, while I think I present the ideas properly, other may thinks it confusing as the drawings or diagrams done by myself may depend on some unique experience on my own, and as it require some drawing skills than the traditional note, it takes much longer time in sketchnoting than writing notes.


  1. Personal challenges as a sketchnoter. 


For me the most challenge thing is the drawing skill. While capturing the information, it requires me to analysis and summary the bunch of information I get in the short time and try to express them through drawing in the meantime, none of the process is easy and it becomes much more difficult while both of them needed to be done in a short time.

When I was taking the TED talk exercise, I stuck by the forth or fifth point I get, wondering how to use symbol or diagram to express that, and then only a few second of hesitation leads to the lost in the rest of continuous information. In addition, the structured diagram I tried to achieve broke down because the missing information in the process, and then became confusing in how to connect the following diagram with the rest of information. I would just leave some space if I were taking notes in that situation. But the visual diagram will totally confuse me if missing some part in the middle.

Though I think it is difficult for sketchnoting, I think on one way, practice more can no doubt improve such skill and understand better how to effectively use that. On the other hand, I think it still worth combine the traditional note and sketchnoting to make sure the information are taken clearly not only for the author but also for the other people as they both have their strength and weakness.

[will upload the images when the space is available]


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