As a team we met with Layla Gaye who taught us about prototyping and Body Storming. This technique gets people away from the (often) solitary habit of designing on a computer and helps get people to communicate with one another. It is great for helping designers to put themselves in the shoes of their target audience and start to experience the various difficulties that they may encounter. Doing this can be a great way to root out potential problems early on in the design process by iteratively creating prototypes that can be easily tweaked or even scrapped if necessary.
When we started the exercise we decided to think of an everyday object that we could ‘enhance’ for a specific user. We chose to make an upgraded blender for our proto-persona called Linda. As Linda is the most important part of our puzzle we tried to make her as lifelike as possible but have summarised Linda below:
- Linda, Female, 43
- Stay at home mum
- 3 kids: 12 yr old, 9 yr old, 3 yr old.
We then needed to think about the context and constraints that would affect the usefulness of our design such as:
- Her limited time
- Young children taking her attention
- Very busy – but wants her children to eat well.
Following this process we were able to think of things that would help Linda to prepare healthy smoothies for her children during the morning rush. We came up with some ideas like:
- A blender that reads the recipe out loud
- A 3D projector of the recipe so she won’t have to look for books/memorise
- Lots of other not very useful ideas!
We started prototyping these ideas and conducted some body storming exercises. One of us acted as Linda trying to use the blender, and some of us acted as Linda’s children. We soon realised that due to her busy lifestyle and potentially noisy environment (kids running around) that most of our ideas were not going to be very helpful. Would she be able to hear the recipe or take the time to use a 3D projector?
To combat these issues our final design was a blender that would allow Linda to add fruit into a storage slot at the back of the blender, select a recipe from the screen on the front and have the blender take the ingredients and make the smoothie by itself. Given more time we would have once again performed a Body Storming exercise on this iteration and I am sure we would have found plenty of issues with it! However for this exercise we had learned how important Body Storming and prototyping is when designing for real world situations.
As a group we will use these techniques in the future when we begin to prototype our designs for an interactive feature at the M-Shed. Hopefully by doing this will we be able to look at our project through the eyes of its target audience and see what issues we can work on early in the design process. This will help us to make sure that we are creating something people will want to, and be able to use regardless of age and ability.