Empathy is one of the most attractive qualities a person can obtain, in my opinion. Therefore it makes sense to me that consumers would be drawn to the products created using empathic design. I enjoyed learning more about how designers can truly step into another’s shoes to develop an item that is something consumers want because it is very relative to problems they face daily.
In the article, Radical Redesign of the Supermarket Experience, I found the idea of creating a virtual shopping system to be fascinating. The idea that a shopper can browse a new grocery store layout that allows them to virtually create a cart is no less than a brilliant idea. I can think of many times when my mother would go to the grocery store and all of the children would complain about who had to push the cart around the store. I liked that the developers had older individuals test out prototype systems to make sure that it would be easy to understand and engage with. The creation of a social hub is interesting, however I am not sure I would enjoy the waiting period after having selected the products I want to purchase. Overall this design focused on meeting a variety of needs to empathize and relate to grocery store shoppers and be successful as a design, truly placing people in the center of the project.
On the topic of placing people at the center, I really enjoyed the time we took in class to place the students at the center and talk about things that are important to each of us as individuals. Many of the old or most valuable items were objects that had been passed down to each student. My most valuable item is my engagement ring. Not only is it the most expensive thing I own, it also represents a lifetime of love and friendship that I have to look forward to. An example of another student’s item is Jessica Hoover’s ring that holds a diamond from her grandmother’s jewelry collection. I thought that this was a unique and meaningful way to connect to someone that has passed away and carry them with you each day. To accommodate others that are placed in similar situations I would want to design a collection of rings and other jewelry pieces that are can have a stone added easily. The design probes package exercise was similar to the old or valuable items one because it was a way for us to learn about our classmates and understand how to better design for each individual.
These activities relate to a definition for empathic design, stating that it uses user-centered research to create a project that places the person in the center of it all. During one of the lectures this week, we discussed how empathic design is not a replacement for all market research, but instead a guide for product development. In this same lecture we talked about how focus groups and questionnaires are valuable to understand buying patterns, but that the “Why?” is just as important. For example if I was trying to understand the selling success of teddy bears, I could conduct many studies and look at data. However I would be missing out on key factors that develop the “why” in decision making like if it is holiday season, location with the highest sell rate, and shopper demographics of who is buying.
It can be challenging create empathic design, there are five steps designers can take to do so successfully. In order to illustrate this process I am going to pretend I am creating a product for people who like to read. First, I would observe individuals that fit my target market. Second, I would collect measurable data to use when designing, for instance which readers buy the most about of books, when do they buy, and how often they buy more than one sale item. Third, I would reflect and analyze which data factors are most relevant to the user. Step 4 of the process is to brainstorm for solutions. Lastly, I would need to develop a prototype of the possible outcomes I was developing. I believe that these steps are important because they guide a designer through the process of placing one’s self into another’s shoes and view. This helps create a product that will truly fit the needs of the individual. Overall understanding that empathic design starts with placing the individual and their thoughts and feelings in the center of the process will lead to a successful design that fits the needs of the individuals.