Scholarly article on topic 'Exploring the Emotional Experience of the user and Designer, Both in the Design Process and Classroom'

Exploring the Emotional Experience of the user and Designer, Both in the Design Process and Classroom Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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{"Design thinking" / "Empathic modeling" / "Emotional curve"}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Cliff Shin, Joyce Thomas

Abstract As radical changes in products are driven by improvements in technology and rapid manufacturing processes, the experience of the designer in the designing process also undergoes changes. Exploring this future in a departure from traditional classroom project experience, a fourth year industrial design studio utilizes a ‘design sprint’, including rapid paced design thinking towards human-centred products for the future. Student teams sought to understand user needs, diverge and converge ideas, and prototype their innovations in a fast-paced implementation of the design process. Traditional design techniques were incorporated along with empathic modeling and exploring the emotional curve (irrational/rational). These methods are particularly useful in order to find out how people experience a variety of emotional phases in the use of a product and to discover where users’ frustrations peak. Frequently people have a pre-conceived perception about the ease or enjoyable uses of a product based on the result of its use, and fail to understand that there might be pain points in the process that could be better resolved. Student teams reviewed each other at stage-gates twice a week with the reviewers choosing which concepts would go forward. Forty initial concepts were funnelled into one final deliverable with the team evaluating the emotional impact of their design and who benefits from it. Student takeaways included problem finding/solving, articulating ideas, collaboration, trust, and developing a shared vision. This paper discusses the design validation tools of empathic modeling and the emotional curve (irrational/rational) as well as the design sprint process.

Academic research paper on topic "Exploring the Emotional Experience of the user and Designer, Both in the Design Process and Classroom"

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Procedia Manufacturing 3 (2015) 2267 - 2274

6th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2015) and the

Affiliated Conferences, AHFE 2015

Exploring the emotional experience of the user and designer, both in

the design process and classroom

Cliff Shin*, Joyce Thomas

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 408 E. Peabody, Champaign, IL 61820, USA

Abstract

As radical changes in products are driven by improvements in technology and rapid manufacturing processes, the experience of the designer in the designing process also undergoes changes. Exploring this future in a departure from traditional classroom project experience, a fourth year industrial design studio utilizes a 'design sprint', including rapid paced design thinking towards human-centred products for the future. Student teams sought to understand user needs, diverge and converge ideas, and prototype their innovations in a fast-paced implementation of the design process. Traditional design techniques were incorporated along with empathic modeling and exploring the emotional curve (irrational/rational). These methods are particularly useful in order to find out how people experience a variety of emotional phases in the use of a product and to discover where users' frustrations peak. Frequently people have a pre-conceived perception about the ease or enjoyable uses of a product based on the result of its use, and fail to understand that there might be pain points in the process that could be better resolved. Student teams reviewed each other at stage-gates twice a week with the reviewers choosing which concepts would go forward. Forty initial concepts were funnelled into one final deliverable with the team evaluating the emotional impact of their design and who benefits from it. Student takeaways included problem finding/solving, articulating ideas, collaboration, trust, and developing a shared vision. This paper discusses the design validation tools of empathic modeling and the emotional curve (irrational/rational) as well as the design sprint process.

PublishedbyElsevier B.V. Thisisanopenaccessarticle under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review underresponsibilityofAHFEConference

Keywords/Design thinking;Empathic modeling; Emotional curve

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-217-333-0855; fax: +1-217-244-7688. E-mail address: thecliff@illinois.edu

2351-9789 Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of AHFE Conference

doi:10.1016/j.promfg.2015.07.371

1. Introduction

The experience of the designer in the designing process is undergoingtransformations as radical modifications in products are being driven by improvements in technology and rapid manufacturing processes. Design education must also respond to these changes that cause the product development process cycle to be compressed. While the traditional design skills of drawing, sketching, problem solving, low-fidelity prototyping and model building are no less important to develop in our students designer's toolkits, new technology tools and techniques of product development are required to be taught to ensure that students will keep pace with professional practice in industry. Exploring this future in a departure from traditional classroom project experience, a fourth year industrial design studio utilizes a 'design sprint', including rapid paced design thinking towards human-centered products for the future. This project collides the concept development of housewares products with large-scale farm equipment, resulting in a new learning experience/environment for the students.

In their initial exploration of both of these product categories, student teams sought to understand user needs, diverge and converge ideas, and prototype their innovations in a fast-paced implementation of the design process that did not allow them to linger over or get lost in any one aspect. While traditional design techniques were practiced, additional tools to help designers better understand user experience and emotions - empathic modelingwith validation through the emotional curve (irrational/rational) - were also incorporated to discover people's emotional phase experiences and to discover where users' frustrations peak in the use of a product. Students and designers often have a pre-conceived perception about the ease or enjoyable uses of a product based on the result of its use, and fail to understand that there might be pain points in the process that could be better resolved.

In the early development stages of the project, deliverables were required every class period and student teams reviewed each other at stage-gates twice a week with the reviewers choosing which concepts would go forward. Forty initial concepts were funneled into one final deliverable with the team evaluating the emotional impact of their design and who benefits from it. Through use of surveys and observation, faculty gauged the students' emotional engagement or disengagement across the project in order to recognize student frustration points, to resolve their anxiety, and to improve the design sprint process. Student takeaways included problem finding/solving, articulating ideas, collaboration, trust, and developing a shared vision.

This paper discusses the design validation tools of empathic modeling and the emotional curve (irrational/rational) and discusses the rapid development 'sprint' projects that the authors haveused in an educational studio.

2. Background

One of the obstacles that faculty frequently encounter in the educational studio setting is that students get lost or stuck in a project[1]. An industrial design educator and director for the School of Technology at Brigham Young University, Fry tells us "It sounds like many of us are facing the same level of frustration as studio projects get more and more complicated. Students are able to gather interesting data using solid research methods and can work through an effective summary process in order to reach engaging conclusions. However, when it comes to converting those conclusions into "insight" (a level of understanding that motivates towards action), many students seem to hit a brick wall" [2].The process of decision-making at critical points is difficult. These 'lost' time frames slow down student progress and can even completelysidetrack their development.

Another key issue is that people tend to fall in love with their own ideas. For inexperienced students, this can be a very difficult hurdle to overcome and can cause them to make poor decisions early on in the project, or frequently stunts their ability to explore other ideas or solutions. Even when the professor requires 20 or more sketches, some students always fall back to their original idea and concept sketches never flesh out any other ideas. Students are also frequently reluctant to speak with real users and tend to fall back on their own perceptions or those of their roommates, classmates or parents."The act of designing forces the designer/self to encounter and confront audiences, i.e., other people; however, these encounters involve absent or even imaginary people [3], especially in design education where typically there is no real client [4]" [5].

The design sprint project concept we discuss in this paper was conceived to help students get past these obstacles and further develop the tools they use in their designer's toolkit.

3. Empathic modeling and Emotional Curve (Irrational/Rational)

For designers to obtain a better understanding of user needs, empathic modelingis a tool that is about trying out an activity or using a product in the way a person being designed for would use it. Frequently designers are exploring needs of users who are significantly different from them (e.g. levels of ability, culture, educational or professional background). However, it is very easy to approach other people/users with assumptions or preconceptions based on our own self. Empathic modeling pushes people to look beyond their own beliefs, values, and understanding and helps them to not project their own perceptions onto others. "Empathic modeling of activities can support a change/shift in a person's thinking. The emotional connection in the modeling experience is the energy that transforms the experience, providing empathic understanding, resonance, deeper appreciation, and helps designers ensure the outcome is relevant to the users" [6, pp 4].

Good designers have innate intuitive abilities in problem-finding and problem-solving, and through their education both in school and practice they develop a foundationthat allows them to use their research without formal analysis. However, in some casesvalidation tools can be powerful to really help point us in the correct directions. The Emotional Curve (Irrational/Rational) is a way of validating the empathic modeling experience.

Perception is defined as "the way you think about or understand someone or something", "the ability to understand or notice something easily", and "the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses"[7]. Perceptions influence a person's decision-making process every day. They can protect us against unknown future danger (e.g.a person might think "fire is dangerous so I need to be careful when I handle the fire").Perceptions also help people to predict benefits and risks from activities. One might think,"riding a bicycle is fun" (benefit) and "my younger sister can even ride a bicycle" (low risk). Aneuroscience article in a mainstream journal explains, "our perception of the world is the brain's best guess at what is actually happening, based on the information it receives through the senses" [8]. Perception is a part of guessing process and can lead us to make mistakes or errors. There is direct positive correlation in activities with distinct benefits and risks.

Finucane[9] says that though distinct, risks and benefits generally tend to be positively correlated. Whereas activities that bring great benefits may be high or low in risk, activities that are low in benefit are unlikely to be high in risk, suggesting the positive correlation of the hypothesized relationship between risk and benefit in the environment in Fig. 1(a). Interestingly, a study by Alhakami and Slovic[10] suggested in Fig. 1(b) that risk and benefit may be inversely related in people's minds because an affective feeling is referred to when the risk or benefit of specific hazards is judged. When people like activities, they tend to judge the activities as low risk and high benefit. When people dislike activities, their judgements are opposite.

The model by Alhakami and Slovic[13] and the hypothesized relationship between risk and benefit in the environment by Finucane et al. [14] generally did not mention unexpected events that can occur during activities. However, when people are involved in complex activities (e.g. baking cookies or using controls while driving an automobile) those models and hypothesized relationships create a gap between perceived benefits and unknown risks because there may likely be an unexpected incident that requires extra time or a feature/function that did not perform as it was supposed to. This is where users get frustrated and perhaps suffer serious injury. When a mom thinks about baking cookies, there are many perceived benefits such as a house filled with delicious scents and children happily eating them. However, there can be unknown risks or delays caused by unexpected processes that

Fig. 1 .(a) Risk and benefit [11]. (b). A model of the affect heuristic explaining the risk/benefit confounding [12].

Fig.2. Unknown risks or unexpected delays can be analysed and improved by using anEmotional Curve (Irrational/Rational).

went wrong. For example, mom may get burned while she takes cookies out ofthe oven (unknown risk). Orthe preparation process of making cookiestakes longerbecause the measuring cups were misplaced or ingredients spilled on the counter top. In real life these are issues that people face every day. By observing peoplein real situations, and personally modeling the users actions, industrial designers can find design opportunities to improve products and activities that people encounter daily.

Unknown risks or unexpected delays can be analysed and improved by using an Emotional Curve (Irrational/Rational). Irrational relates to the user's perception about the anticipated use of the product or process of the activity. Rational communicates the positive/negative experience of the real process, use or activity. Frequently people have a pre-conceived perception about the ease or enjoyable uses of a product based on the result of its use, and fail to understand that there might be pain points in the process. These methods are particularly useful in discovering how people experience a variety of emotional phases during the use of a product and to discover where their frustrations peak. Many issues can be better resolved in the initial design by utilizing the Emotional Curve tool in the design development process.

Fig. 2 analyzes the anticipated activity of making/baking cookies using the Emotional Curve (Irrational/Rational). In this example, a Facilitator/Recorder (FR) worked with a discussion group of 3 students to assess the activities prior to modeling them. Initially, group members exchanged their "general feelings or perceptions", and then they broke the activities down into a series of steps. Group members rated theirperception of the anticipated activityas either Positive or Negative (1=low, 2=medium, 3=high), which are represented in Fig. 2 by Xs. While this process could have been broken down into even more steps,they focused and grouped activities around several key words. Each step was rated based on their perception of the proposed activity.

• Step. 1: Preparing the cookie dough involves many ingredients that are often stored in different areas of the kitchen, including cold as well as room temperature items. Gathering the ingredients and the correct measuring tools is essential. The wet ingredients are mixed separately first. Then the dry ingredients are slowly mixed into the wet to create the dough.

• Step. 2: Different types of cookies may require different baking temperatures. Set your oven to the required heat by turning a knob or pressing buttons. Pre-heating can take place while you are preparing the ingredients.

• Step. 3: A number of methods can be used to prepare the baking sheet: (1) spray the sheet with a non-stick cooking spray, (2) line it with parchment paper, (3) use a silicone baking mat. Then place equal amounts of dough evenly spaced across the sheet so the cookies bake at the same rate.

• Step. 4: Making sure the oven has reached the correct temperature, open the oven door and place the cookie sheet(s) onto the rack(s) of your choice.

• Step. 5: Follow the recipe and set a timer either on the oven or microwave, separate timer, or phone. The average baking time ranges from 8 - 10 minutes.

• Step. 6: Now one must wait for the dough to bake. During this time you may turn on the oven light and look inside or slightly open the oven door to check on the progress of your cookies (although this will cause the oven temperature to vary).

• Step. 7: Once you see the cookies are now golden brown, remove the sheet(s) from the racks and place on top of the stove. Then transfer the cookies off of the sheet onto a cooling rack. After cool, taste test!

It was anticipated that baking (and eating) cookies would be a positive experience but when the steps were analyzed individually for pain points experienced during the making/baking, the result was different than their initial perception of the activity. In the discussion following the empathic modeling, the FR asked about the pros and cons of each of the actual activities and what 'design opportunities' they saw that could reduce the gap between the irrational (perception prior to activity) and the rational (reality of the activity).

For example, if we consider the last step (Step. 7 in Fig. 3), it was perceived to rate a +1 prior to the experience. However, after discussing the positive and negative aspects of all activities (which included heat/burn hazard), there ended up being six negative points to the four positive. After taking the cookies out and letting them cool one would expect that the smell, warmth, taste, and happiness would cause the maker/baker to rate this a positive experience. However, in the discussion following the activity, negative points includingthe blast of heat when opening the oven, having to wait even more time for them to cool before eating them, and cleaning up overshadowed the positive.

Other examples where the Emotional Curve (Irrational/Rational) would work well are when designing user interfaces for auto controls or microwave controls. These solutions often seem to be designed for design's sake, and not for the user. They are constantly reinvented from model to model, from car to car, and from company to company. The control design seems to be more about the designer's need to do something new and less about the user's need to be able to intuitively use products they have never touched before.

Perception

* Melting chocolate » rtrôma

* Color Charge

- Dough can get all over the place

■ Space issue on

tray • CttUSSKM tilt

- Even distribution

- Wasted heat

- Waiting for it 10 COO I

- Unbalanced Ratk

- Drop & Causing smoke

- Cleaning

Design Opportunity

REDIRECT HEAT

BUILT-IN SCALE

SOUND ALERT

STEP. 1

Prep ingredients

STEP. 2

Pre-heot

STEP. 4

Operating Oven

STEP. S

STEP. 6

Fig3.Plotting the anticipated activity and actual process of making/baking cookies using the Emotional Curve (Irrational/Rational).

This method can be useful in the ideation process to understand any gaps between users' perceptions (irrational) and actual experience (rational), identifying where the user gets frustrated and where design opportunities lie. It enables us to see where pain points and failures occur and where unexpected steps/processes would need to be added. Thisapproach helps students to realize that even though the perceived activity/product use may be positive and pose low risk, a deeper exploration of the emotional curve during the product use can yield a more human-centered design that enhances the lives of people and has greater potential for success in the marketplace.

4. The design sprint in an educational setting

Over the course of two years, we have utilized a design sprint in 4 different studio courses - 2 cohorts of industrial design students in their capstone year, and two cohorts of Technology Management (TM) students in their 3rd year of study (TM studios are roughly equal cohorts of business and engineering majors). The activities in this product development project were planned to develop students' lateral and design thinking, give them strategies for using empathic modeling and the emotional curve validation to better understand users, and to use a stage-gate decision making process to propel the students and project forward at a rapid pace. This paper illustrates the 2nd year design studioproject that was conducted at the beginning of the school year. This rapid immersion into a design project jump-started their final year in their undergraduate degree.

These designers collided the concepts of large-scale farm equipment with housewares products in their sprint.Nine teams of 3-4 students each considered what those products/environments might look like, designing solutions that support the individual within their home or tractor environment for healthy living, wellbeing, and aging in place.Each team was given one area focus as their starting point: Technology Management, Social Connectedness, Relaxation, Medical/Physical, Personal Hygiene, Waste Management, Cleanliness, Entertainment, or Storage. The expected outcome wasa radically innovative product for either the tractor or home environment.Students were expected to communicate why their design was compelling and who benefited from it.

4.1.1. Class Day 1 —introduction and brainstorming areas of focus

• On large sheets of white paper (3' x 4') students use mind mapping to identify what their area of focus means and begin to identify the problem. Analogous and similar products/appliances are identified to be researched.

4.1.2. Class Day 2 - preliminary product research

• 40 product images (10 per student) are mapped in one or more ways that make sense to the team.

4.1.3. Class Day 3 — understanding the user and sketch ideation

• Prior to class to stimulate their ideation process studentsindividually complete and document two empathic modeling activities related to their area of focus and use the emotional curve tool to evaluate this activity. Each team member then develops10 unique rough concepts (total 40 ideas).

• In the studio in the first stage-gate peer review,each team presents their 20 ideas to two other teams. Through a post-it note voting process, the reviewing teams select the 8 ideas that should be pursued for the next step.

4.1.4. Class Day 4 —progressing the idea through storyboards

• Prior to class each student champions two of the ideas by developing a storyboard of the problem and solution.

• Inside the studio a 2ndstage-gate of peer review determines the four concepts for each team to take forward.

4.1.5. Class Day 5 — advancing the ideas through low fidelity prototypes and sketches

• Prior to class, each team prepares informal sketch model(s) for four ideas and each team member advances one of the ideas through sketches.

• Inside the studio a 3rd round of peer review determines the final concept for each team to take forward.

• Each team gives an extemporaneous presentation of the concept direction theyare carrying forward.

4.1.6. Class Day 6 (plus 7 and 8 depending on the overall length of project) — developing the product

• Students complete secondary research, and gather user feedback.

• The concept is refined into a product with a physical representation and CAD modeling.

4.1.7. Class Day 7 (or 9 depending on the overall length of project)

• Formal presentation in class which includes these deliverables:

- 3-4 minute video presentation including bothvisuals and audio description.

- Full size sketch model of team's radical innovation.

- 2-3 24" x 36" Poster illustrations of the design concept in portrait orientation. 5. Discussion

Students self-selected their position on the teams, each student called in alphabetical order to sign up under one of the areas of focus. This put them immediately off-kilter as it made it difficult for them to choose a team of their friends or people they had worked with before. Some teams managed to form with students who found it easy to collaborate with each other. Several teams allowed their personality differences to cause difficulty in developing a collaborative environment. The most successful teams used their 'area of focus', brainstorming and peer reviews as a jumping off point and morphed the concept into a more powerful idea. The least successful teams stuck rigorously to the original prompts or fell back on an idea that they had fallen in love with. Some students (and teams) planned and used their sprint time frames well. Others fell back on completing idea sketches moments before the class period for review began which resulted in less high quality ideas. Some students still had difficulty developing sketches across a wide range of ideas and fell back on iterating on one idea even though the prompt told them not to.

About two-thirds of the way through this sprint, students were asked to complete a quick write to gauge their emotional engagement or disengagement across the project in order to recognize student frustration points, to resolve their anxiety, and to improve the design sprint process. Students evaluated the level of the workload, their own personal progress and the team progress on a scale where 1 was very unhappy, 3 was neutral and 5 was very happy. Additionally, they wrote about how they shared their enthusiasm; resolved conflicts; liked or disliked project aspects; and suggested improvements for the design sprint process. The project overall received an average 3.5 mark (roughly a C+ on the University grade scale). Interestingly their level of happiness during each of the class periods ranged higher than their overall assessment (B- to B+).

Following the conclusion of the projects, students wrote individual reflections on their experience. They were asked to choose one idea, insight or strategy that was central or meaningful to their experience as a product developer and to explore aspects of that idea or insight that were perplexing, unique, surprising, problematic or affirming, providing details of the experience. They also were asked to generalize their experience to a heuristic that should be considered by a design team engaged in a similar activity, and to consider whether this generalization would truly be applicable to other new product development design situations. Comments from each of the students were pulled into a presentation to have an in-class discussion with the students, which further explored the success and failures of the project. Some selected comments (positive and negative) follow:

• "when we worked as a group, and brainstormed together we were at our strongest"

• "normally when I am working on a project, I go with the first idea I have that seems feasible and is a new idea; however, for this project I threw down every idea I thought of..."

• "this act of sharing and learning the effects of collaboration changed my idea of the design process"

• "as we began receiving feedback from our peers about which direction they saw our sprint moving toward I would be lying if I were to say that I was not concerned about my idea being represented and accepted"

The majority of the students were highly engaged in the projects. The collision of two disparate ideas (large-scale farm equipment and housewares products) helped to propel them forward with lateral thinking at the earliest stages of the project. All of these elements of student engagement/disengagement, satisfaction/dissatisfaction will be taken into account for creating better sprint opportunities for the design studio in the future.

6. Conclusion

The experience of the faculty in these sprints in an educational setting has been that the momentum and quickly moving from one problem to the next has helped the students overcome some of the obstacles they typically experience during studio projects. Overall, collaboration was increased as they explored many different ideas from all team members. The lateral and design thinking in the early phases of the project was a large influence to encourage their innovation. In the past two years over the course of the 4 studio courses 180 students have embraced the concept and produced high quality work in a very short period. Students were engaged, excited about the work they were producing, and frequently have asked if a design sprint would be repeated in the next school year. The original goal for the design sprint (to help students get past the obstacles of getting stuck, decision-making and falling in love with your own idea) was largely achieved and the lessons learned in the sprint by the students were carried forward into their next project. The faculty sees this as a valuable educational tool that they will continue to utilize in future educational settings.

References

[1] R. Frye, "Refining the Requirements for Divination-based Design Synthesis Tools", presentation at 9th International Conference on Design

Principles and Practices, University Center, Chicago, USA, 12-14 March 2015.

[2] R. Frye, in personal communication with the authors, April 2015.

[3] M. Strickfaden A. and A. Heylighen, "Who are they? Student voices about the 'other'" Include 2009, Helen Hamlyn Centre, RCA, London,

[4] DA Schon, Educating the Reflective Practitioner, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987.

[5] D. McDonagh, J. Thomas, and M. Strickfaden, "Design and Empathy: Integrating the marginalized voice into the designing process", The 4th

International Conference on Design Principles and Practices, Chicago, IL, Feb 2010.

[6] J. Thomas, D. McDonagh, "Empathic Design: Research strategies", AMJ 2013, 6, 1, 1-6. accessed 8 April 2015 from

http//dx.doi.org/10.4066/AMJ.2013.1575

[7] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Perception, accessed 8 April 2015 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perception

[8] "Memory contaminates perception", The Guardian (17 August 2011), accessed 8 April 2015 from

http://www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2011/aug/17/memory-contaminates-perception

[9]M.L. Finucane, A. Alhakami, P. Slovic, and S.M. Johnson, "The affect heuristic in judgments of risks and benefits", Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 13(1): 1-17, 2000.

[10] A.S. Alhakami, and P. Slovic, 'A psychological study of the inverse relationship between perceived risk and perceived benefits', Risk Analysis, 14(6): 1085-1096, 1994.

[11] Finucane et al. 2000, op.cit.

[12] Alhakami and . Slovic 1994, op.cit.

[13] Alhakami and . Slovic 1994, op.cit.

[14] Finucane et al. 2000, op.cit.