I had no experience with or knowledge of what a design probe was previous to this week in class. When learning about what design probes are and what they are used for, it seems like they would be really helpful tools for designers trying to create a product that better satisfies their users. Designers are able to get on a personal level with their customer and get to know more about their personality and lifestyle among other things. However, when acting as a participant in the design probe assignment for class, I noticed a few shortcomings of using a design probe package. Looking back at the way I completed my design probe package, it might not have given off an accurate picture of who I am as a person, at least not enough for a designer to have an idea how to go about designing some kind of product that would be completely satisfying to me. For instance, I chose to do my second day of the design probe on a Sunday, a particularly lazy Sunday. I chose to do it that day just because I knew I wouldn’t forget to do it because I didn’t have a whole lot of other things going on that day. The way I portrayed myself in my design probe that day was pretty lazy and inactive, which is not really how I normally am. I’m usually a pretty active person but it just so happened that this day I spent a lot of time on the couch watching TV and eating pizza… So, because completing the design probe is ultimately at the choice and convenience of the participant who is doing it, the results may not always be 100% accurate. I do think it is a good concept and probably does work to a certain degree to help designers better satisfy the users of their products; however, it isn’t a perfect approach in research for empathic design.
I found all of the topics that related to empathic design that were talked about during the LOLA show to be very interesting. It is one thing to learn about empathic design and about design probes and what they are in class but it’s another to learn how this is actually being applied in our field. I felt that the LOLA show made everything that we have learned about in class very relevant and definitely seem more “real”. Of course, a perfect example of how one retail company is utilizing empathic design was the presentation about the online company that allows you to completely customize and design your own shoes from the very beginning of the process. Clearly, they have nailed the whole increasing product satisfaction thing right on the head. When a user is able to be involved in the design process of any product, of course they are more likely to have more attachment to that product. They take a certain sense of pride and ownership from being able to say that they “made” whatever product it might be. This was relevant to me because I have actually customized my own shoes before online. For a birthday present several years ago, my mom let me design my own Nike running shoes using Nike ID. I got to select the style of the shoe, as well as all of the colors. These running shoes got their fair share of use out of them for a couple of years and finally had to be retired because of the wear they had endured. It was years ago when I designed them (maybe even in high school), and looking back on it now, I can’t say I would choose all the same crazy colors and design them how I did if I could do it again now. However, I have kept these shoes in my closet even though I don’t wear them to run in or to go to the gym anymore, although I do take them out and wear them to class every now and then. I just can’t seem to get rid of them though because of the pride I take in designing them myself. They were designed for ME so it’s not like anybody else could wear these shoes, right?! So, in conclusion, I definitely think that being able to take part in any phase of the design of a product does link to higher product satisfaction.