This week we read an interesting article about merchandising called “ShopSense”. This article related to empathic design because it was all about re-designing a grocery store to be more pleasing to certain customers. I found this article very easy to read because it was a case study so you could read about what the group did to find a solution to certain problems in grocery stores. They had focus groups and studies to really get a better idea of what it is like to shop in a supermarket when you are visually or physically impaired. The article pointed out how people have been shopping in the super markets for years and the whole process has not seen very many advancements or improvements. It made me wonder why designers/architects/engineers are not taking the opportunity to improve the shopping experience in stores like a grocery store. There are so many possibilities (as seen in the article)!
As an activity in class we all went around and got to discuss items that were our oldest or most memorable item we own. I really enjoyed listening to what everyone else had as their most memorable or oldest item. The majority of most memorable items that people discussed were items of jewelry which I found interesting. My most memorable item is a ring that I have worn everyday for over three years now. Before my Nana passed away she informed the family that she wanted one of her diamonds to go to each of her grandchildren when they graduated high school. She passed away before she could see any of us graduate, but once we did my papa took us to a jewelry store to design a piece with her diamond in it. It is very special to me not only because it is a gift form my Nana but also because of the experience and memory I have designing my ring with my Papa. Designing my ring was a very special experience, not many people get to design something like that in their lifetime, so I have a really special appreciation for my ring.
When we started to discuss in more detail about empathic design, we compared market research and empathic design. Market based design focuses on how an item operates. This includes focusing on things like the aesthetics, cots, function, and materials. Empathic design focused on the values, cultures, meanings, and experiences. There are both pros and cons to both ways of designing products depending on what the product/service is and who the consumer/end goal is.
The steps of the design process include: Observation, Capturing data, Reflection and analysis, Brainstorming for solutions, and Developing prototypes of possible solutions. I believe that all five of these steps are very important when designing empathically. If you don’t do one of these five steps in your design process you could be missing a crucial part of information that would help you find the best design solution. While you might spend more time doing one of these five steps I think it is important to go through these steps and find them all to be equally important.
The design probes exercise we did was a very fun class activity. First of all, when completing my design probes package I had a lot of fun sort of documenting most of my activities that I did for 48 hours. Once we were in class I enjoyed trying to come up with a solution to a “problem” that we found in our persons’ design probe package. Trying to figure out who this person was, and what they need/would like was more difficult than we thought, but we really tried to step into their shoes and see what they were missing/what could make their life easier. I found it interesting to listen to how creative the other groups got when designing something for the other design probes packages. I liked having a dialogue at the end and hearing feedback from the people the different learning communities were designing for. I thought it was a good exercise to have before we are designing something for an older individual.