A case study: UX in the living room

Design Thinking

The Design Thinking Process is a five-step approach to finding meaningful solutions for users' problems while using a product or service. The five steps are Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. It is a non-linear, human-centric and iterative process.

This diagram represents the five stages of Design Thinking and explains its non-linear and iterative nature.
An illustration illustrating the five steps of Design Thinking and explaining how it is a nonlinear, iterative process.

Empathize Stage

The first stage of the process is gathering information/user experience from the user through user interviews and understanding their perspective.

Major unlearning in this stage: I ≠ User

Now comes the most interesting and challenging part of the project, which is “framing questions”. What’s great about framing questions — you need to interview in such a way that it is more like a friendly chat than a Q&A session.

Name/Nickname, Age, Occupation, What is something that you do every day to motivate you? (example: morning coffee / loved ones/ prayer, etc.), What is something you enjoy doing in your free time, in other words your favourite hobby?
A google form questionnaire for profile scanning
Please describe your living room. How is the placement of the switchboard in the living room? What is the air circulation and ventilation system in your living room? How many people can the living room accommodate comfortably at a given time? Where is the living room located in the house? What do you and your family generally do in the living room? How often is the living room used in a day? What is your favourite activity in the living room? and more.
A screenshot of the first version of my user interview questions
User Insights
Sketches of Users’ Living Rooms

Define Stage

In this stage, we take the insights from the user interview, identify their challenges and define the problems/challenges.

Major unlearning in this stage: Focus only on the problems, don’t think about solutions yet.

After the interview, from my notes, I went into a typing frenzy listing all the problems identified by users. Then added all that was not said or identified by the user as problems. This resulted in a proper definition of the problem/ challenges in the user’s living room.

Problems faced by Users

Remember, there are NO trivial problems.

Ideate Stage

At this stage, we examine the problem statement and generate as many ideas as possible.

Remember, there are NO bad ideas.

The next step in the ideate stage is to filter the top three ideas from various ideas we generated for all the problems identified with all the users.

Prototype Stage

At this stage, we create an inexpensive working model of our ideated solution.

Photos of the furniture

Testing Stage

Testing is the last stage of the five-step approach. In this stage, we propose our solution and display our prototype and get feedback from our users.

The Testing Stage of the process.
Left to Right: The prototype, tabletop rotated to expand into a 6-seater dining table
Height adjustment feature of the Prototype

Learnings

  1. Make sure to have a conversational style user interview.
  2. Ask many ‘why’ during the interview.
  3. Unlearn the urge to give solutions during the interview.
  4. Record the interview for later reference.
  5. Testing and Feedback is to test the solution, not the capability of the person.

Conclusion

The project was for us to learn the Design Thinking Process in a non-textbook manner, which is what I think I have achieved to some extent— using the Desing thinking process I have enhanced the comfort and convenience of my UserA in her living room without compromising their family quality time.

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