Design Thinking Journal: The Day We Wrote On The Walls (More Like The Glass Panels In The Cafeteria)
In last week’s design class, we were given a problem to solve:
How can we get people to take this design class in future semesters? This design class isn’t required by anyone in the school, and it’s been hard to get the word out about the class. What can we do to inform people about the class and get the right people into it?
After spending several hours brainstorming with my team, we decided that we wanted to give people a hands-on experience with Design Thinking, rather than just talking their ear off about it. We came up with a series of activities that could be done in crowded places on campus that would not only make a statement, but let people test drive the class for themselves.
Why people should take this class:
The thing is, this class is really fun! It’s not too hard, it’s a good 3 credits, and you learn one of the most valued skills in today’s market place. Better yet, it applies to ever major! Every single major offered here can somehow benefit from the skills we learn in Design Thinking. Nurses, CIT, art, anything! It’s an invaluable class. With that in mind, we tried to market the class as the best thing since slice bread/the greatest thing ever. AND IT WORKED.
While brainstorming, I proposed that we set up whiteboards in the busy cafeteria with questions written on them. “How can you keep a snowman from melting?” and “How can you fit a square peg into a round hole?” Questions that aren’t too intimidating, open-ended, and require a spark of creativity. IT WENT SO WELL. During class time, we launched our experiment. We took a huge white board to a busy part of the cafeteria, and on the other side of the cafeteria we wrote on decorative glass panels. We asked passersby to write down their thoughts on the panels, and afterward we very briefly talked about how in problem solving is the whole point of Design Thinking. People loved it! Many asked for the course code, and we had about 50 people sign our boards, which isn’t bad for an almost-empty cafeteria at 10am.
Our class and professor feedback was phenomenal. I’m so happy that my idea worked out so well. It gives me a lot more confidence in my problem-solving abilities and my future as a designer. Even my professor said that they never thought of something this good when marketing the course. I’m so happy to continue working on this project and reiterating it and making it better. By the time we’re done, we’ll need to add a few more chapters to this wonderful course.
So we’ve been studying empathy for quite some time now, and it’s been great. But today, we moved on to what is perhaps my favorite thing about design - PROBLEM SOLVING!!! *and there was much rejoicing*
We need to truly observe people and try to understand them to help solve their problems. We also talked about the Rapid Assessment Process, something I found fascinating that I’d never heard of before. It’s a really great way to solve a problem with outside input.- First, let’s say you take have a person with the problem that needs to be solved. You don’t truly know and understand their needs perfectly, even after much observing from the outside. So what do you do? You take the person with the problem and make them a researcher on your team. Another person who is truly passionate about the issue acts as the main researcher. Then you take two people who aren’t interested in the process because they give an outside perspective. (When you’re emotionally close to the issue, you need other perspectives to help you reiterate and see flaws, ) Then you have several meetings and you take the info you’ve all observed and learned. Over time, all the info you collect helps you gain a deep, rich understanding. It’s brilliant brilliant brilliant!
To get started with this idea of observation, today we focused on observing people in the BYUI cafeteria, The Crossroads. I’ve been there dozens of times, but I learned a lot more about the people and the environment when I really stopped and thought about why things were done the way that they were, and how the students were interacting with and utilizing their environment.
A few things I noticed:
- It’s a perfect place to study because it has cafe sounds. Kids study with their textbooks and laptops out.
- Getting a small snack while working on your laptop seems to be a common theme. While they work there’s wrappers everywhere. That’s annoying. They finish eating, but there’s still stuff everywhere and they’re trying to study.
- 85% of these people are connected to a device —- WHY don’t these tables have outlets?
- It’s hard to fit both a laptop and a notebook on these tables.
- There’s lots of people, but you’re somehow anonymous because everyone’s focused on themselves.
- The process of buying food is a little awkward the first time. I’ve almost walked out without paying so many times. There needs to be more of an emphasis on the register.
- The chairs near the counter are SOOO high if you’re short. Getting down hurts. Why is the counter so high? What’s up with that?
- There should be napkins on the tables.
- Chairs on the tile make an AWFUL sound. But chairs on the rug are hard to scoot in and out. Dilemma.
- The containers for carry out are so bulky and awful and flimsy. could they be better. You HAVE to carry them and they take up your hands. Why can’t they be more tupperware like?
- More hand sanitizing stations would be good.
- This is an energizing environment. You see friends, you get food, there’s few distractions and the ambiance is great.
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Well, we played our game this week! It was a learning experience, most definitely.
Just playing the game for the first time scared me half to death. We created an intense game! I was really worried that I’d somehow mess up and jeopardize the team winning. Winning really all depends on strategy. I feel like if I played it two or three more times, I’d be able to develop a great winning strategy. It’s gonna take a lot of practice to get good. Once we’ve played it 2 or three times as a class, we’ll all have our own personal strategy, and it’ll be a lot more fun and competitive.
After playing and getting feedback, we realized that a lot of the rules really need to be firmed up; something we couldn’t have known unless we actually played. Hearing feedback made me realize just how important it is to empathize with people. We want people to have lots of fun playing our game, and we want to take away as many elements as possible that might make the game playing process less than satisfactory. To do this, we really need to CARE about the people and do all we can so resolve their issues.
PS. My Kaban board is still one of the best things that have ever happened to me.
We talked about Kaban boards in Design Thinking class, and I was so in love with the idea that I came home and made one that same day. Kaban boards (like the very basic one in the picture) help you see what needs to be done, what is done, and what’s nearly done. After a week of using it, it’s super effective! Up until now I’ve always used basic to-do lists, but I like Kaban boards because they’re very visual, you can tailor them to fir your needs, and there’s something really satisfying about moving a task into the ‘done’ section. I think it’s a great idea to limit how many projects can be ‘in progress’ so you don’t overwhelm yourself, and it’s a great way to get things done. I wish I had made this sooner! I’ll definitely be using this for my design projects in the future, but right now, I’ll just stick to using it for homework assignments.
Today we tested the first game developed by one of our class teams. Trust me when I say that we all learned a lot. Because I want to go into product development, I really struggled with our game designing. I like designing OBJECTS, not SYSTEMS. I knew that we were learning about game design for the sake of understanding design thinking, and so I tried to do my best. Our game is great, but really complex. Today we finally looked at the whole thing and said, “You know what? We don’t need half of these concepts.” So we cut them. And now our game is simple and brilliant, just like well-designed things should be. It’ll need a lot of testing before it’s really solid, but I’m really excited to see our hard work in action.
Today we tested a game developed by Team 1 involving hackers, spies, and the government, and I learned A TON. The game itself had really good intentions, but it was explained in such a way that made it very difficult to understand, proving that good design is applicable to EVERYTHING. If you have a solid product but bad channels of communication, how are you going to get people to use your product? I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box, and I need to understand things REALLY well before I can do them (this applies to math homework, games, etc.). So playing with scattered instructions really stressed me out, creating a confusing user experience which isn’t ever a good thing. The game itself was fun - really intense. I barely knew how to play, and I was still shaking.
I think I learned the most when we all reconvened after the game to talk about its highs and lows, just as you would re-iterate a physical product while designing it. I really like dealing with objects because it’s easy to see all the problems, so game design was initially a real challenge for me. But the more I think of game design as ‘product development’ (which it is), the more I understand it and the more I enjoy it. I love making things better, so I loved hearing everyone’s feedback about the game, even though it wasn’t my own. I’m really learning to take EVERY idea into consideration in typical design thinking fashion, rather than shooting seemingly stupid ones down. I wish I had employed that tactic in my last design class. Looking back, I think I edited my thoughts way too much.
I’m excited to see how we enhance our projects over the next week!