These two weeks were the weeks for us to do the exercises to redesign the experiences for others from empathy. It was a little bit harder than redesigning the experience that we had before because we might totally have no idea about the experience and the knowledge included from others.
For example, John is a mechanic who wants to tackle a challenging problem. He not only wants to be trusted and service knowledgeable clientele but also wants to build relationships with customers. These kinds of problems were so different from our own, but we still tried to build the complete maintenance experiences for him by activity theory.
Activity theory is a theory which can assist us in analyzing and understanding phenomena. For example, analysis explores new technology use and contextual relationships and provides new perspectives for improved design (Bannon & Bødker, 1991; Bedny & Harris, 2005). Activity theory provides researchers with a descriptive perspective structure, not a predictive theory with causal logic. (Nardi, 1996).
Thus, we designed a system named John’s Club for John. The club’s main goal is to help John to build a community which can not only adopt his wishes but also cultivates and educate clients in same time. The exercise was only 10 minutes, but my teammates and I still created a rough frame and the membership card for John’s Club. Meanwhile, I created three logos for John’s Club to make it more realistic.
On the other week, we redesigned the business-school building at Kingston University for disabilities. This exercise not only asked us to do the brain-storming but also made us try body-storming.
Body-storming is the idea to assume that a product exists and imagine using it in a corresponding environment, and let the participating members demonstrate the difference in experience. In the process of body-storming, I will imagine a set of solutions through the props, objects, and physical activities created by improvisation.
Anyhow, we started to find out the possible problems for disabilities in the brain-storming stage. We try to understand the inconvenience for disabilities through the paths from their home to the classroom. Then, we sit on the chair as a wheelchair to start body-storming. To be honest, at that time I can’t even open one door by myself. There were so many difficulties we had never imagined physically and mentally.
Finally, we created an idea which was to use the lift for the airplane to connect the architect. This thought inspired lots of other thoughts like building an air aisle or creating auto sliding doors. However, because of the budget and realistic, we just gave up our thought at that time.
A complete design process needs to start from empathizing. Empathy not only gives the confidence to represent that I am working on a meaningful problem but also forces me to take a perspective other than my own.
The second step is to define and ideate the problems. Ideation could give me abundant and diverse design solution possibilities to select, develop, and test.
The final step of designing is to build the prototype and test it. Prototyping proves that my solution is desirable, feasible and viable. Testing could practically tell me that my idea works or not.