Empathic Listeners

This week in class we continued to learn about empathic design and did a few exercises in class to practice getting into the mindsets of other people. The article I read for class, discussed how it is nearly impossible to understand someone else’s perspective from our own experiences, and that it is important to do some design research about the persons likes and dislikes of their daily lives to understand their perspective from knowing more about their point of view. It called this process product profiling and gave example using coffee makers. Just by looking at the coffee makers you can point out the physical differences, but the personality differences in terms of use are even more important in understanding where and why this certain coffee would be more useful in a different setting. I liked this because it gave me a better idea for how I can use empathic design and communicate with the client better knowing what questions to ask them. One of the exercises that we discussed in class that helps explain this better is the most memorable item exercise. For myself, I submitted an image of my grandpa’s college shirt that I wear around. Similarly I also have clothing items from my grandmother that I wear often as well. Having these items and wearing them make me think of my grandparents and their personalities. If someone were to design for me, they may not think that these old clothing items are very special personally, but seeing that family and tradition is important to me they have now gotten a small glimpse of my perspective that they didn’t have before. Similarly, the person who said that they collected letters written to them from their grandparent, I understood that words of encouragement and love is important to them as well hand written messages. So designing for them, I would keep in mind that they would appreciate something to collect letters without getting damaged that could be used as décor since it was something very important to them.

As mentioned before where I discussed the article, product profiling is more important that collect market research. From studies that were discussed in class, market research is more about seeing how sales are going and the number of people buying a certain product. Empathic design in comparison and product profiling is different because its actually discussing with the consumer their like and dislikes about a certain product to see why they like it and if it was a personal preference or if its because of a low choice selection. I have ran into this many times when shopping. Every store has the same design of clothing that other people enjoy the look and feel of, yet I am more uncomfortable with the style. Yet, since so many people are buying the same product, the stores continue to put out similar styles of clothing that don’t suit my preference. This is why the five steps of empathic design are important in the design industry. If someone were to observe my dislike of the options I have and investigate to see why, they would have collected data and been able to take it back to the designer for reflection. They would then brainstorm for a new solution and develop new items to present new ideas that were taken from the design research. Although, I feel like observation and capturing data are in the same category since they happen so close together. It takes one person to notice something, but it takes action to find out more information. We did this in class, when we observed different peoples design probe packages and created a product for them. Though since we hadn’t personally talked to the person about their actual daily activities that could be very different from the two days we were shown, we had to act during the presentation to ask them questions about what their likes and dislikes of the product were as well as asking question of what they would add or take away for the product to fit more of their needs.



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