Posts Tagged ‘research’

Final Project design challenge…..

June 10, 2009

Over the weekend i was working to understand what my insights from the user research i conducted meant and was writing mini design challenges for them in the form of “how might we statements” When i started to map out the insights three recurring themes emerged. These were issues that people had in their life and would like to have better control over to feel more balanced. The themes were communication with family and friends, cooking and eating habits and personal prioritisation.



102_0349Out of these emerging themes i decided to focus on personal prioritisation. This was due to a number of reasons….firstly i think it is the most challenge and exciting area to focus on, as well as being the area with the biggest potential to apply personal informatics to the design solution.

Some of the key insights within this theme were:

“I transfer work trips to our calendar at home, but only a few weeks before, mainly so Mas [husband] can’t see what’s ahead of him!”
People only really use a ‘public’ calendar for really important events that are necessary to share.

“I don’t currently write in a diary as I imagine someone reading it, so I won’t put anything personal in it…….I like the approach of this diary, I actually find that I want to be more productive just so u can write something positive in it, kind of indirect motivation”
Having to actively record you activities allows you to reflect and become motivated to do well.

“I would love to be able to schedule time for reading…….but it sounds kind of dorky….so I would love to be able to track some of these things I would like to be able to do without having to actually track it”
People feel silly scheduling ‘me time’ but are interested to understand what they spend their time on and when.

“I keep a personal to-do list, I prioritise everything, so when I have been neglecting something I move it up the list, I keep it on my desktop so I can always see it”
People need to have a constant reminder of what it important to do otherwise they will ignore it.

“Hobbies are great when they are built into your life, I love it, but when you don’t do it for a while you forget how much you enjoy it until you do it again”
People easily forget how important something is and how much they enjoy it when they stop doing it.

“Prioritizing is difficult, it would be good to have ground rules, or a rule of thumb to follow”
People like to be guided in some when it comes to making personal decisions.

And the design challenge i came up with was………

Due to an increased pace of life and personal competition with ones self to become ‘someone better’ people are continually busy, going from one task to the next. This has been heightened by a more prominent use of technology in our lives, which has resulted in lifestyle barriers that used to exist been broken; people can now work anywhere, contact anyone at a given time and achieve much more on the move. The result of having this fast pace of life is that people become absorbed in ‘achieving more’ and detached from what their day-to-day life looks like and what brings them a real sense of enjoyment.  Within their busy lives people find it hard to prioritize when making decisions in their own life and would often like to be guided in some way.  Some people use diaries and calendars to schedule (make time for) ‘practical appointments’ but very rarely for personal activities, yet they are interested to understand what they spend their time
on, especially for things they enjoy doing, but rarely have time to do. In order for people to have a balanced life on a bigger scale they have to first reconnect to themselves, focusing on what they need to be content rather than everything that is possible.

How might we create a flexible and customizable platform that will help people to reconnect to themselves, enabling them to prioritize in their lives by keeping track of and reminding them
of past experiences that they can then use as a reference point to make decisions?

I’ll post the full deliverable from yesterday as well to summarise what i have been doing for the past few weeks.

Thesis update….

June 3, 2009

Today i have been battling my way through all my notes and quotes from my research sessions. In the end i carried out 12 interview sessions over the course on 1 week! 9 of these were in person (in Copenhagen) where i used a number of mapping tools and a series of questions, 3 were carried out remotely over skype (to USA and Italy) and one person (in Italy) also kept an in depth written and photograph diary for me for one week. In this she recorded all her routines, habits, frustrations, anxieties and happy moments. This information has proven to provide very rich and interesting material! She did a fantastic job! The people i interviewed were divided into students, couples that work and families, as well as a few extreme users such as people that travel frequently for work reasons and people that have a keen passion in their life (E.g. sport)

Currently i am still going through everything so i can’t say what i am going to take forward. We do have a hand in on Tuesday though, where we have to define what our design challenge is, so by then i will be able to be more specific! At the moment i am creating character boards for all my interview subjects and picking out key quotes and observations for each person. After completing this i will then pull out specific insights that i feel have potential to be developed. I will use these to turn into “how might we statements” and then hopefully frame them into a design challenge. Here are some photographs just now until i have finished going through everything…..

102_0262Interview notes typed up and organised

102_0281An emotional time line map

102_0284“Mapping Priorities” tool

102_0259A diary that one of my research candidates kept

102_0272One of the character boards

The rest can be found here.

Research Prep….

May 6, 2009

Today i have been preparing for my first research session tomorrow. I have been making diaries, card sorting activities and mapping tools to use during my interviews.  Once they are all ready i will add them here. So far…..


Objective, research, assumptions

May 5, 2009

End Statement
I want to help people feel in control and have a more balanced lifestyle, yet still meet their own personal priorities that brings  them meaning to their lives.

Research Objective
Find out what does it mean for people to have a balanced life. What do people need to do to feel in control. How does this vary at different stages of their lives and how do their priorities change.

Currently there are a number of personal informatics tools on the market to help people balance their lives. These tools generally are designed to help very generic areas of peoples lives for example, health, finances and energy consumption. Some of these tools have been a great success but other are just a waste of time, i am very skeptical that any bar chart on a screen will actually motivate anyone to change their behaviour.

I believe that there are other more specialized and interesting areas that could be addressed to help people feel more balanced. These could be very subjective to each person, but there may be some interesting patterns. Some of these assumptions could be:

People need to..

  • Check there emails repetitively throughout the day
  • Speak to parents/grandparents each weak so they don’t feel guilty
  • Read Newspapers to make them feel they are up to date with current knowledge
  • Do some sort of exercise each week
  • Keep in contact with friends that live in other cities/countires
  • Buy organic or fair-trade food to make them feel like they are being healthy or ethically conscious
  • Recycle their paper and bottles.
  • Shower every morning and evening
  • Wear unwashed clothes everyday
  • Make sure there mobile phone is fully charged at all times
  • Know where their ‘significant other’ is at all times

Even writing this short list of assumptions of the top of my head has really made me realize how big this area is i am trying to tackle, but also very interesting! Lets see if any of these assumptions come true!

Research kick off!

May 4, 2009



Today we started the research phase of our thesis projects with a great talk from Christine Truc, the founder of the Design Strategy Lab. Christine in an expert in User Research and gave us an overview of how to plan and implement our research. As i mentioned before i am looking into what it means for people to live a balanced life, what are people’s personal values they need to meet to feel comfortable in their lifestyle. I am also especially interested to see if personal informatics can play a role in helping people achieve this. If you can access more information about your day  to day actions that is currently hard to access or invisible would this help. For my research i am going to work with three user groups; students, couples who live together and work, and couples that live together with a family. By working with these user groups i hope to see how people’s priorities change through a change in age and their lifestyle? What do people need to do to live a meaningful life, and do they use any tools or strategies to achieve this. This week i will be working on preparing different tools to use for during my interviews, these may include diaries, mapping tools or card sorting activities. I will post about them here as i define and create them! At the end of last week i also did some initial research on what tools are currently available and did a quick email question asking people “what information about their lives that is currently limited would they like to have better access to?” Some of the reply were:

“A system that tells me how my personal actions and lifestyle (i.e. flying, cycling, recycling, energy consumption, food consumption etc.) contribute to my personal lifestyle picture and how this affects the larger global picture. Information is currently there but they all seem so separate as systems and isolated. I would like them to be more integrated so I can get an overview of myself and others (maybe my local community, or my social circle of friends etc. – peer support system)”

“I’d like to know more about spending my money, so I could manage my finances    more effectively. I generally am decent with my money, but I can let it slide easily when I’m busy on other things. I’ve looked at things like budgeting software but always seemed like too much work to set up”

“I’d also like to know more about my shopping habits, so that I could make more ethical choices by buying good things and not bad things”

“I really don’t know if I want to know anything about my actions. I’d rather get unexpected information about my life, that could trigger a change in behaviour or make me reflect upon certain aspects of my life”

Although this exercise was slightly random, i found it very interested to here such a wide range of responses. It helped me see that the area i am dealing with is very subjective to the user. Different people can have such a wide range of personal values.