I liked this last week of class a lot. I think I enjoyed it so much because of how deep we dug into the topic of empathy and empathic design. This was one of my favorite topics to discuss in problem solving so I was thrilled to carry over my previous knowledge on empathic design into sustainability as well. On Tuesday I read the case study about Shop Sense – Redesigning the supermarket experience. I thought that this case study was very well developed. It really opened my eyes to just how much room there is for improvement in our supermarkets today. First off, the layouts of our supermarkets could be significantly improved using the ideas in the case study and the fixtures could adapt to ones similar as the ones in the case study. But the best part of the case study was the technology included. The case study discussed an “intelligent assistant” that aids you in your shopping endeavors. I think that this idea would be so useful to me on my shopping trips and I know that others likely feel the same way. Also on Tuesday, we brought our oldest or most meaningful items to class. The item that I discussed in front of the class was the figurine that my great-grandmother left me after she passed away. She actually left one for every member of our family and we all cherish them deeply. The figurine that she left me was a beautiful ballerina sitting beside flowers. Although my mom said that the figurines are very expensive, it is not the monetary value that makes this item special. The item is very old and reminds me of how loving and beautiful my great grandmother was. I also enjoyed hearing about everyone else’s valuable items. You really can learn a lot about a person through a sentimental item of theirs. This activity made me realize how successful empathic design can be when you really relate to your customer and target market. It reminded me of my mom being a realtor. Although it sounds silly because she does not necessarily create products, but she truly steps inside the lives of her clients in order to find them the right home. She puts her heart and soul into getting to know her customers so that they can end up in the home that they were meant for. In a way, she performs empathic design every single day. There are several graphics that we covered in class that compare the pros and cons of market research to design research. In my opinion, design research is the way to go. Of course, it depends on what topic you are researching, but I think that design research is better in the long run. With design research, researchers gain more insight to the consumer. I like design research better because it is user centered. I think that it ends up being more reliable because of how well the researcher gets to know the consumer. In the end, that makes the product or experience all that much better. The five steps in the empathic design process are:
- Capturing data
- Reflection and analysis
- Brainstorming for solutions
- Developing prototypes of possible solutions
All five of these steps are equally important in the empathic design process. They are all so important because without one, you cannot perform the next. I ended up learning a lot from the design probes. I enjoyed it because it allowed us to experience empathic design in a tangible way. It amazed me how many groups in our class came up with very useful products for their assigned individuals. I have never actually practiced empathic design but design probes allowed me to do just that. I learned a couple things from this assignment and activity. The biggest lesson that I learned is that in order to create a useful product for someone using empathic design, you must identify a problem area in their life. If this is not done, the invention or product will not be as useful to them.