Week 9 was such a fun week because we have started to learn about empathic design! I loved biomimicry, but empathic design fits better with what my interests are and what I would like to be more knowledgeable about. This week the merchandisers read an article that had one study in particular that stood out to me. This study was about how elders had trouble getting the items they need in grocery stores. This made me think about in my visual merchandising class when we were taught not to place merchandise too high or too low on any shelving we had in our virtual stores. If I were to use empathic design to help these elders in the study, I would create a mobilized shelf that can be rotated around for the best reach. For example, there would be a button on the side of the shelving that you need, and after touching it the next shelf would shift to the middle to help them from having to reach high or low. This would be easy for elders because it’s empathic design but you didn’t have to be technologically advanced to use it.
The oldest item I own is a stuffed bear that I received when I was born. My parents got it for me the day I was born and I still have it with me. My bear is the beanie baby brand and supposed to be worth quite a bit of money eventually, however, I would call my bear as more of a priceless gift. To design a memorable product for someone else I would find out three things that were important to them and try to design something that was more of sentimental value rather than functional, because those items are what mean more to me.
I think the pros of market research would be that you are able to really define the target market from an outsider’s standpoint. You can know general things about your consumer such as their age, gender, income, and more general topics. A con of the research though is that those things really matter less for empathic design. It is not really necessary to know physical aspects of your consumer unless you are designing for a particular physical need. It is more of how the consumer feels and how you can step into their shoes and feel what they feel to design something useful. Knowing their income level does not really help to design empathically.
The five steps in the empathic design process are observation, capturing data, reflection and analysis, brainstorming for solutions, and developing prototypes of possible solutions. I believe all five of these steps are vital. The reason being, you need each step to develop the product or service. Without observation, you will not know exactly why this is needed. Without capturing data, you may not know why other current options are not working. Reflection and analysis is important because it helps the designer to know what exactly they need to start brainstorming. Prototypes must be made to see which brainstorming ideas need to be thrown out or can be actually made.
The design probes exercise made me realize that I do not always take the time to stop and look at what is going on around me in the world. During this assignment I had to be more attentive of sights, smells, sounds, and feelings. On one of the days I realized how much I loved the sound of rustling leaves in the wind, and the crunching of the leaves under my feet. Fall is my favorite time of year and it was very exciting for me to find more small components of every day fall life that make it just a little bit better.