This week’s topic on design probes was the most interactive subject we have covered so far. I enjoyed playing both roles as a participant and “designer” for the design probe challenge. I say it as a challenge because I felt a bit challenged trying to keep up with my own day. After covering a 24 hour period and compiling images and information, I felt a little boring. Throughout the day, I kept reminding myself to be proactive and partake in different activities. I consider the active thinking about the activities that take place throughout the day to be an eye-opener for the participant. As participants, we may realize different things about our life that we did not necessarily see before, and we develop a different point of view from our own standpoint. If we are successful in communicating these potential new findings about ourselves to the designer along with visuals that tell a story, the designer will be able to create something incredibly in-tune with our lives. I believe that there should be a strong mutual effort between participant and designer in order to achieve the best results.
When the role switched and I was able to step in to another person’s life, it was definitely challenging. While I felt that the pictures we reviewed were accurate of the person’s daily life, we did not quite get the 360 picture we were looking for. In a true design probe process, there would have been a follow-up interview to connect the dots between visuals and the person’s answers. However, what happens if the designer is not able to perform a follow-up interview and is left with a less-than informative design package? Coming from a design standpoint, I would encourage the participant to delve in a bit deeper during a second design probe and possibly give them different probes to work with.
Offering suitable design probes to a participant also plays a substantial role in the outcome of the design probe activity. I found it quite interesting in the article we read that the design probe activity is also learning about how people interpret different probes and what they use them for. I believe the key to choosing probes for participants is to offer probes that resonate with the participant as well as offering select probes that provide a challenge. Also, I think it would be interesting for participants to choose some of their own probes and follow-up with them post-activity to ask why they chose the probes they did and how it helped them.
Overall, the design probe package activity was quite enlightening from both ends of the spectrum because we can unmask unexpected findings and learn more about ourselves as participants and designers. I think this activity is a clever way to open up the path of verbal and visual communication between participant and designer to achieve creative results.