Saturday, April 19, 2008

Reflection on NM4210 classes

This module has made me aware that a good design is not simply giving the product a good appearance and satisfies the needs of everyone in a targeted market segment (I used to believe in that, trust me).

The process of designing a product emphasizes a lot on the perceptions and emotions of users as the ultimate goal of a good design lies with the level of pleasure user gets from using the product. These are things which we as consumers experience subconsciously but also often never realize them ourselves. However as a product designer, all these aspects are expected to be taken into consideration.

I have further learnt the importance for a designer to constantly interact with users of a product at the various stages of product development as experienced in my final group project. This is troublesome, but it is crucial to retrieve constructive feedbacks to understand on what should or should not be included in a design. The design should be user-centric in which it addresses the core needs of users and reduces their usage steps to the minimum. The methods we choose would depend largely on the type of product as well as our target users. Thus I feel there is no definite right method in data collection.

Adding to that, our lessons have also made me aware that we have to find out what is the core need of users. At times the core need of users on a product is not identifiable through means of interview or questionnaires. From what I have experienced from our final project, there should be a combination of methods in the problem defining process; as what users revealed important may not be the issue that is most influential to users’ experience with the product.

In overall, product development requires a thorough understanding of users’ through constant user participation as well as self-criticisms.

Reflections on Smoke & Mirrors article

I feel that the author has made relevant arguments with regard to the flaws in which scientific researches possess. There may be technology devices to assist designers in the collection user reactions and emotions toward product designs; I agree with the author that those results produced are subjected to each individual designer’s interpretation. This process is somehow very subjective and may not even reflect what users are truly thinking, thus resulting wrong conclusion. Taking the eye-tracking device for example, I truly agree with the author’s statement that the eye-tracker shows what users are looking at but it does not tell us what is going through users’ mind. Thus there is not expert in user experience design.

At the meantime, I also agree that non-scientific user research is useful still as we are able to get information of users’ thinking process. However, we should also keep in mind that even though we are able to obtain direct information from our users, there is always likelihood of inaccuracy in the information provided. I feel that the information provision process could be influenced by several factors including environment, users’ self-cautiousness as well as facilitators’ reactions. Thus here comes the rationale for using scientific research tools as these devices are able to obtain users’ reactions by assessing their physical reactions such as eye movement.

At the end of the day, there is no perfect research method to understanding user experience. What could be done is to choose the most appropriate research tool depending on the product design in which research revolves around. The appropriate method may be hiring either scientific, non-scientific research tool or even both. Thus designers should never restrict themselves to any form of conventional research method.


A question that came to me was whether the eye-tracking device affects the behaviour of the tested user as I have came across eye-tracking devices online which required their user to wear a device over their head and eyes (below top). But my question was solved after my further search on the internet. Pardon my ignorance, but I was amazed by the current eye-tracking system that is attached to the bottom of the monitor screen because it quite unnoticeable (bottom most picture). However, as users in the experiment are aware of their actions being observed. To what would they still be affected in terms of their behaviour during a research?

Final Project

For our final project, my team chosen to further develop on locks as we have long observed the issue of residents leaving their keys and their locks unattended, thus making their homes vulnerable to crimes.

From that direction, we further interviewed respondents from various age groups to further confirm their need for safer and more conveniently used locks. Similarly, from the research method, we have found a common need among age groups for safety and easy to use locks in terms of reduced steps needed to enter homes. However, it is also noted that youths are more likely to expect sophisticated designs (visceral) as they are concerned with the first impressions visitors to their homes may have (emotional).

Defining Users

From our research in the first phase, my group was drawn between choosing youths and elderly as our main users. Eventually through our statistical assessments on the likely problems with age groups; we decided to narrow down our focus to elderly as Singapore is expecting aging population and more elderly would be living alone.

As such we came up with our following category of users for the product which we would develop:

- Primary users
- Elderly aged 65 and above
- Secondary users
- Family members living with elderly
- Non-users
- Students living in hostel

Problems in which they face:
- Forgetting to remove keys from padlocks
- Forgetting to shut the shackles of their metal grilles
- Physically strained from having to grab hold of the heavy padlocks
- Many steps involved when accessing home

Their perceptions:
- Resistance to change (both product functions and features)
- Uncertain towards technological goods
- Price sensitive
- Place more trusts on advises from immediate family, professionals (e.g. social workers) as well as friends.
- Psychological barrier
- They see metal grilles as an additional protective layer for their homes aside
from having a wooden door. (In fact, all age groups have such psychological barrier)
- Some elderly also have the perception that more locks equates to higher safety

Need Observed

As mentioned earlier on, interviewed elderly tend to claim their main need from our product is a lock that would provides them with safety. However, my team eventually agreed otherwise.

From our ethnographic research, we observed elderly then tend to be physically weaker, thus they took quite some time searching keys, getting hold of their pad locks, finding keyhole, etc. It would be especially inconvenient if they were to come home with heavy groceries. Reviewing their perception on more locks = more safe, my team identified ease of use to be their core need from our product.

Experience strategy

- Sense of ease due to reduced steps involved to enter/exit house
- Safety

Marketing plan

- Coordinating with HDB to implement such metal grilles in all studio flats for elderly
- Coordinating with social workers in providing advise to elderly on the features of
our product
- Government subsidies could also be provided

Final product

Our product concepts have various stages of evolution after every critique session. Through continuous self-reflections and revisions, we have finally come up with our final product- sliding metal grilles and wooden door with tapping key and push button functions.

Sliding metal grilles would provide wider door entrance for elderly, especially those with disabilities or wheelchair-bound. Additional shackles would be installed at the center of the metal grilles to attach to the grilles to its frame so as to prevent easy break-ins through forceful pulling or pushing against it.

A push button would replace a lever as we have taken into consideration of joint problems elderly may encounter. Thus having to push the lever could be straining on them. The push button idea is implemented to be attached on the metal grilles as well as the wooden door.

Motion and proximity sensors would also be integrated. Motion senor detects the entrance/exit of home owners by sensing their key (attached with a chip similar to ezlink technology) to activate auto-locking system. A loud “clucking” sound would indicate the locking of the metal grilles or gate. Proximity sensor attached to push button where users unlock the system by tapping their key onto it.

Conventional key would be the backup plan in times of power failure.
User evaluation

- Easy to use
- Enhance usage in terms as they are able to enter home using one hand
- Willing to purchase the product for its functions
- Satisfied by both functions and appearance
- However
- The appearance is no different from other metal grilles, hence nothing interesting
- Intimidated by the technology involved
Problem we have faced so far in this project
  • Tendency to come out with a design idea right before we even go through enough thorough researches
  • We were unable to think out of the box due to our over-emphasis on the things elderly told us with regards to their low acceptance to technology. Further interviews are required to confirm that statement as our eventual finding showed that they are in fact able to accept technology that is simple. However still, we should not ignore the small level of uncertainty felt by them towards an electronic metal grille.
  • Some elderly would reject our interview
  • Those who accepted our interview are very camera shy. Thus not only we are unable to shoot enough pictures of our interview process, we are also unable to keep a video documentation.
  • Language problem is another problem I personally faced as I do not know how to speak dialect. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview my neighbour who is english educated.

Our team has gone through a lot of uncertainties when developing our product as we were somewhat trapped in the realm of coming up with design before finding out the true needs of our target users. This project has shown me how tedious it is when developing a product. Weekly interviews were conducted with elderly by us as we were very cautious with their acceptability to our product. I am so glad my neighbour, Mdm Lee was helpful enough to not reject my frequent interview requests. However, it had definitely widened my perspective towards product development as I have learned to look more into details when developing ideas.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Assignment 3: Emotion Design Probe

In this assignment, my partner and I each attended a lecture to observe and identify the dissatisfactions experienced by students in order to bring about suggestions to improve their learning experiences.

We conducted our studies using two methods:

- Ethnography, which we would sit in LTs to observe the way lecturers conduct their lessons as well as students' reactions during class. This method was chosen as we thought it would provide us an overview of problem students faced during lecture. In addition, only experiencing the environment ourselves, we would be able to understand what are the likely reasons leading to any form of behaviour in class. This method was chosen as we hope to gain a better idea of what are the problems faced by students as well as understanding their main concerns.
- Laddering, which would be conducted by inviting a few students from the class to a one-on-one interview and engaging them in a series questions that went of mainly with asinking why.
I personally attended a lecture class on Sociology of Family at LT9 (2pm - 4pm).
Here are my obervations while sitting through the 2-hour lesson...
The lecturer begun her lesson on dot as the topic for the say was said to be long. By 2.54pm, several students were observed to be walking in and out of the theatre in the middle of the class for short breaks as some came back holding drinks in their hands. The others in the theatre displayed signs of jadedness and distraction as they did arm stretchings; yawnings; chatting with friends and surfing the internet on their laptops. There was also mumblings going on in the class especially at the back of the theatre.

In terms of information provision, it was a one-way communication from lecturer to students. No verbal feedback was requested from the lecturer to find out if they understood what she was saying. During the lecture, the lecturer made several changes to her slides thus resulting in some missing new slides from the students’ copy. Numerous students flipped through their papers to look for the missing slides before the lecturer announced the changes (Click
here for video). Grumblings were heard from some students among themselves and the mumblings could be heard from the entire theatre. Many were busy copying the missing details and weren’t paying much attention to what the lecturer was saying. Further, the presentation slides were also quite cramped. There was no enough space between each bullet point’s content, hence making it hard to read (picture below).

Nonetheless, the lecturer was humourous. Examples given during the lecture were mostly from life experiences and were of course relevant to the concepts and made easier for understanding. She did attempt to obtain students’ response by asking a “yes, no” question however the theatre remained quiet. But, her facial and physical actions were hilarious. The students were laughing and looking more attentive after each joke she made. Before the lesson officially ends, the lecturer provided an overview of the next lecture using a video from YouTube (picture below). However, not feedback was asked from the class.


I conducted laddering on three students from the class. They are Ethel (below top), Bryant and QiXiang (below bottom) . The interview revealed the following:

•Wordy slides
•Too many slides
•No clear sequence in topic flow
•Last minute changes to slides

•Examples which students can relate to
•Funny delivery

Some Individual Thoughts After the Session

It was found that the students' concern for what they listed as dislikes are mainly associated to the conseuqence of not achieving good grades. Not only is information provided on their slides important to them for future references during revision, they are infact very concerned with how the lecturer deliver the lessons as the way the lecturer conducted the class affects their attentiveness and the amount of information they take during class. The laddering sessions provided me a more in-depth understanding on how students feel about the issues they identified as satisfactory as well as dissatisfactory. Thus identifying their core concerns or needs. This would help us in our research to come up with solutions that addresses directly at their core concerns.

On other hand, my ethnography observations gave be a broader spect of other problems faced by majority students in the class. In this case, I managed to identify addition problems that would build on from what my fellow respondents mentioned during the laddering process:
  • In-between-class break
    As most lecturers let students off for short breaks during their classes, it has somehow a cultural thing to students as almost every students expect a break. Hence, when they are not given relevant breaks, they begun losing their attentions and engage in other activities such as chatting.
  • Slides
    There are many students who prepare themselves with printed lecture slides before class, hence lecturers should not make too many changes to the slides as students may lose track or focused only on taking down the slide content.
  • Interesting delivery
    This would help to get students' attention after a good laugh on a joke.
  • Feedback
    It would be nice for lecturers to check with students if they have any question before wrapping up the lesson.

I feel that both our research methods complemented each other in terms of the information gotten as one identified more information (ethnography) with no much in-depth explanation while the other provided depth (laddering) to a few identified issue. On other hand, laddering had also helped me to confirm some of my observations from enthnography, however in that case, I was able to gain a better idea of the reasons why students are either satisfied or dissatisfied. Thus, helping me to generate recommendations that would really improve their learning experiences.

Combined Findings and Recommendations

After conducting separate observations and interviews with students from different lecture classes, me and my partner (Jennifer) came up with a few recommendations. But before that, here are the addtional problems she found from her trip to the lesson on Social Cognition:
  • Time wasted on technical problems
  • Too many slides (96 slides, but from my experience that was not the worst... hahah!)
  • Insufficient “table” space
  • No space around the seat to put drinks

And finally our recommendations:

  • Technical
    –Workshops for lecturers to learn device activation
    –Should standardize technology used in all LT
    –Having a cup holder on each seat
    –There should be more power points installed in each LT

  • Cultural
    –Lecturers should give breaks in between lectures

  • Others
    –Lecturers should:
    -Upload only final slides
    -Try to inject humour into his/her lecture
    -Use examples that students can relate to
    -Leave more spaces between each point in slides
    -Leave blanks in the lecture notes
    -Always get feedbacks from students before ending the class

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Assignment: Four Pleasure Analysis

RMA product

Imaginary Subject Profile

Name: Veronica Loon
Age: 26
Nationality: Singaporean
Qualification: Bachelar of Communication, University of Western Sydney
Peronal traits: Tall and Long wavy hair

She is a Feature Writer for Her World (Singapore). This is her first job after returning back to Singapore upon graduation 3 years ago. Right now, she is at the peak of her career, and she aims to become an editor within the next 3 years. Her job is demanding and stressful as she needs to conduct interviews and rush for deadlines. Being hard-working, she often works late in the office.
Social Life
Veronica is a sociable person who often meets up with her ex-schoolmates and colleagues for dinners at fine restaurants. She would also hang out at clubs such as Zouk with her friends twice a week. While with her friends, she enjoys being envied through comparisons of lifestyles, working status as well as item possessions. She is sophisticated and believes herself having a good sense of style. In addition, she wants to concentrate on her career at this point of time while being young, she has no intention to get a boyfriend. However, she does go out on dates with various male friends.

Other than Social Life...
She enjoys shopping very much. Due to her busy schedule, she would often shop online. Likewise, she felt that online shopping is more interesting than shopping physically as she is able to purchase goods that are not sold locally in Singapore and also at cheaper prices. Eventhough she is very cautious about her self image and enjoys being envied by her friends, she is not exaclty brand conscious. Rather, she is the type of person that goes for mainly the quality and design of a product; and will only purchase items which she felt would match her personal self image.

Due to her journalism job, Veronica has to maintain a good physical image especially when she needs to go for interviews regularly. She is therefore very cautious about her figure and complexion. She would go for spa and facial treatments at Angelsky VIII, and gym workouts at California Center on Saturdays. She has also begun to enjoying yoga lessons which she had signed up a month ago. She felt a great sense of achievement being able to perform yoga which she initially thought will be difficult. On Sundays, she would most likely relax at home engaging in activities such as listening to classical and pop music, watching cable movies, reading magazines and will pamper herself with aromatherapy.

Veronica comes from a typical middle-class family, where her father is an English teacher in a local secondary school and her mother being a housewife. She has a younger sister who is currently studying in NUS. However, Veronica lives separately from family in a 3-room condominium apartment in the west as she wanted more personal space. She visits her family for dinners once a month, however she contacts her mother every once a week.

An Animal Lover
Veronica loves animals and personally owns three cats. She pampers her cats and will send them for spa treatments and grooming every once a month. She is also a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), thus detests animal cruelty and abandonment.


• As she see needs to attend interviews regularly, Veronica maintains her physical image by attending gym, facial and spa to keep fit. – Need pleasure

• During weekends, she uses essential oils for aromatherapy while engaging in other activities such listening to music, reading and watching movies on cable television to keep her body relaxed after each hectic week. – Appreciation pleasure

• She stays alone in a condominium apartment as she percieves it as having more personal space.


• She gains a sense of belonging by going out with friends regularly for either dinners, dates or clubbing. Social needs

• She enjoys being envied by her friends. The pleasure comes from the comparison of career achievements, material possessions and lifestyle. – Appreciation pleasure


• She has recenly taken up yoga classes and she felt a sense of achievement beign able to do something she she never thought she could do. Appreciation pleasure

• She enjoys purchasing items online as she is able to get them a much cheaper rate – Appreciation pleasure


• Veronica wants to be seen as one who has good sense of style and taste. She isn't brand conscious, rather she is more particular with the quality and designs of items. In addition, she only purchases items that matches with her sophisticated image. – Need pleasure

• She enjoys being different as she tends to shop for goods that are not found in Singapore. while online.

• An animal lover who detests animal cruelty and abandonment.

• She wants to be perceived as a successful career woman and she aspires to become an editor in 3 years. – Appreciation pleasure

-Staying in shape-Company -Sense of achievement-Stylish
-Maintaining good complexion-Status-Stress relief-Detests animal cruelty and abandonment
-Physical and mental relaxation
-Personal space
-Recognition -Being unique

Product Benefit Specification – Hand phone


- 3G Slider phone

- MP3 and video radio

- Bluetooth connectivity

- Camera with at least 3 megapixels and in-built flash (with redeye reduction mode)

She may want to take pictures with her friends since she is a sociable. The flash lights would also allow her to take pictures in the dark while at club. Likewise, bluetooth function will also allow her to transfer photos to her friends instantly.

-Large memory space for her to store her pictures, videos and music

- Long battery life


- Slim design so that she could slip it into her pocket while clubbing.

- Simple, sleek and classy exterior as Veronica wants to portray herself as a sophisticated career woman.

- In stylish colours such as hot pink, red, violet and black; and with limited sets to each colour since she likes being different

- Buttons that are designed and located in such as way that it facilitates ease-of-use for her.

Veronica has a demanding job with title schedules and may require her to make various calls, hence she will appreciate a phone that has buttons that are easy to press.

Example (Appearance):
MY example of a suitable phone design for Veronica phone would be the Samsung U600 10.9 Utra Edition (below) due to its slim, simple, sleek and classy design. In addition, the buttons are large, hence making it simple for her to press. Likewise, Veronica is not brand conscious, thus a normal brand such as Samsung would most liekly be accepted by her.

However as mentioned earlier, it would be better if there are a wider variety of unique colours for Veronica to choose from.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Assignment: Pleasure with Products

Visceral design: Gabor Kanabe 8-dance

I have chosen this watch as visceral design due to its aesthetics. The watch’s hands are made up of a large and small sub dial that move around its face, showing different images every minute within 12 hours. In my personal opinion, I think it would be fun looking at the transition of the sub dials every now and then. Likewise, the face is also made from wood with carvings that further gave it a classic look. I feel that its appearance is able to give its user alot of pleasure due to the unique hands and modern-classic look.

On other hand, I find it extremely difficult to read the time with this watch. It is understandable that we are supposed to read the time by looking at where the yellow hands were pointing towards. However the position of the numbers are slightly different from our usually hand watches. From the picture below, it is shown that ‘I’ was placed in the position of ‘XII’, and so on. As it defys our expectation and due to habit, it is likely for a user to read the time wrongly. This would greatly decrease the pleasure of using the watch because of its lack of usuability.

It is prestigious due to its brand as well as its white gold casing. Adding to that, there is a limited edition of only 23 pieces in the world. It has implied that it is a collectors' item. Thus it also portrays a symbol of high status which can be used to show off. However, due to its lack of usability, the watch would merely be more of a display than for practical use.

Behavioural Design: Casio Baby G watch #BG169-7V

It performs great with many useful functions such as alarm, stopwatch, light and calendar. With labels on the watch’s face, I think it has helped the make the product more user friendly. In addition, from reviews online I have also found users commending on the watch’s durability which I felt would also further increase the pleasure of using the watch.

The watch is capable of portraying a young and sporty image on its users. In my opinion, it also has a show-off value to an extent due to the brand and functions of the product.

The watch has a cute, sporty and adventurous outlook which I felt was quite attractive.

Reflective Design: Tag Heuer’s Formula 1 Glamour Diamonds

In my opinion, the watch gives its user an elegant, feminine and matured image. Moreover it reflects high social status due to its prestigious brand as well as its appearance which comprises a bezel made of diamonds.

The watch is attractive due to it its bezel that's made of 120 diamonds. It has also displayed a sense of classiness.

The time on the watch can be easily read. In addition, it also has a date display function. In my personal opinion, I think a date display is functional as I personally couldn’t keep track of dates. Furthermore, the watch is also made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal which will eliminate fear of scratches on the watch.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Asignment 0- Bad Design

Bad Design- Refrigerator (Hitachi)
Problem- No alarm in the vegetable compartment (center)

User experience and feelings toward the product

The purchaser of the refrigerator was my mother. She bought the product due to its multiple compartments, and most importantly the integrated alarm system which sounds off when a compartment is not properly closed. She perceived the alarm system would allow her to save some money on electrical bill as our family members were caught not shutting the compartments of our old refrigerator once in a while. According to her, the salesperson somewhat highlighted the alarm as one of refrigerator’s unique selling proposition. However, she soon realized the alarm in the vegetable compartment did not work and thought it was faulty. We only came to know that only the top and bottom compartments are equipped with alarm after flipping through the manual. She ended up being somewhat disappointed with the product due to the missing feature.

Lesson learnt from the interaction

She adapted to the inconsistent feature by not depending on the alarm entirely and reminded all our family members to do a double check on the refrigerator compartments after use.

Impression of brand

Despite the disappointment, my mother still finds the brand trustworthy due to its reputation of durability as well as its long existence in producing electrical appliances.

My reflection on the product and user reaction

The product is inconsistent in its design feature. Users will probably expect all the compartments to be equipped with alarm instead of only the top and bottom compartments. Such expectation can come from various aspects including brand familiarity, past experiences, word-of-mouth as well as sales pitch. Despite there was not too much of inconvenience caused in the usage of the product, user dissatisfactory exists when expectations are not met. Hence feature consistency is important in a product design as it determines the pleasure of using the product.

In the case mentioned above, the user’s pleasure of using the product declined as her perceived important feature was inconsistent and she had to adapt by being more cautious. However, we should also not ignore the ability of the brand reputation in the establishment of brand impression. Hitachi’s long existence in producing electrical appliances in this case has accumulated brand loyalty, thus causing less effect to the impression of its brand by an unsatisfied user.