Thinking like a designer for 90 minutes

This week I had the fantastic opportunity to think like a designer in the Stanford d.school Virtual Crash Course at Objective Digital. Our consultants, Dave Hayes and Nirish Shakya had recently finished teaching the 12-week UX Design course at General Assembly’s Sydney campus. We hosted the recent graduates of the course help them to put what they learned into practice in 90 minutes! Being the curious psychology student that I am, I decided to pop my head in to see what was happening. Coming from a psychology background and having spent my entire degree practicing scientific principles of experimentation, I was pleasantly surprised by this experience.

What was it all about?

The D-School Virtual Crash Course provided a fun, energetic and fast paced guide to thinking like a designer. The course had a simple objective – to re-design the experience of your partner giving a gift to someone else (your partner being the person sitting next to you).

You get 8 minutes to interview them and find out about their past experience of giving someone a gift, their motivations, desires, likes, dislikes and anything else you could think of that influenced why and how they bought that gift.

“So tell me about the last time you bought someone a gift.”

“So tell me about the last time you bought someone a gift.”

We conducted 2 quick interviews each, the second one to dig deeper to answer more ‘why?’ questions. Then came the chance to think out of the box and think of as many radical solutions we could for their gift giving dilemmas. We then tested our initial concepts by showing them to the user. Based on their feedback, we picked one concept to prototype.

Quickly getting feedback on our prototypes but also having fun

Quickly getting feedback on our prototypes but also having fun

We made real life arts and crafts versions of those prototypes. Did I mention that we only had 4 minutes to do each of these activities? Maybe I didn’t stress it enough, this was FAST!

Rushing to find the appropriate materials. “How do I bring my concept to life??"

Rushing to find the appropriate materials. “How do I bring my concept to life??”

What did I like about it?

I particularly liked how similar designing is to being a psychologist. One of the most important parts of designing for someone is to understand their needs. This means you have to empathise with your user. All of those skills I learned about probing and asking the right questions to get to the core of someone’s problem – the same goes for designing.

I also really enjoyed how the fast pace nature of the course meant that no one in the group was judgmental, knowing that someone only had 4 minutes to re-create your gift giving experience means that your user is not expecting a Picasso masterpiece.

What made it challenging?

I found the very limited time given for the activities difficult. It was really challenging to find out enough information in a 4-minute interview. Also, I am terrible at arts and crafts! Trying to make a model of a prototype within a few minutes was very challenging. However, the limited time forced us to focus on just the critical things and not on every detail.

What did I learn?

I learned how important it is to understand the customer’s needs. It seems that many companies fall into the trap of assuming what their customer wants and what they need. Designers then make solutions for the wrong problem or problems that probably don’t even need to be solved! If only all the stakeholders could do this crash course, they would have first hand experience of why it is important to understand the root cause of customer’s needs and behaviours. Excel spreadsheets and funky charts can only tell you so much. To really understand people and their problems, you need to go talk to them.

Summing it all up

Overall, this was a very rewarding experience. I feel that even though I’m not specifically a designer, learning to understand my user / client is a essential skill for any job I go into. In fact, I think this is something anyone and everyone should try to do. It’s not just about being a designer for 90 minutes; it’s about learning to emphathise with the needs of the people you’re solving problems for. I would encourage anyone from any background to try  the d.school virtual crash course, even if you don’t think you’re creative or know much about designing. I’m not and I don’t, but I can promise it was heaps of fun!

“See the beer represents how food is an essential part of life and giving!"

“See the beer represents how food is an essential part of life and giving!”

Amanda Krulis

photo (1)

 Amanda is a student at UNSW studying a Masters of Organisational Psychology. She is a new intern at Objective Digital and is striving to learn as much as she can about user experience. Amanda also loves spending time outdoors and skiing around the world. 

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About Objective Experience

Objective Experience is your partner for customer experience strategy, research, design and usability testing. Our team of passionate Customer Experience Consultants uncover insights from your customers to optimize customer journeys across all digital and physical channels – mobile apps, websites, systems, shopper and retail. We research on how customers interact with products, services and environments through interviews, surveys, focus groups, desk research, eye tracking and usability testing. Actionable recommendations are developed from our in-depth observations and testing. Our partners and clients come from a wide range of businesses and industries - from large financial institutions and government organisations to technical consultancies, Universities and not-for-profit businesses. Objective Digital Holdings Pty Ltd has offices in Sydney (Objective Experience Sydney) and Singapore (Objective Experience Singapore). Eye Tracking, CX, UX, Usability Testing, Shopper Research & Design Thinking across Australasia and South East Asia.

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