Research in Design

Research in design is often seen as a hurdle, a blocker — a step that slows down the rush of ideas that designers experience when they are presented with a problem.

Research in design is often seen as a hurdle, a blocker — a step that slows down the rush of ideas that designers experience when they are presented with a problem.

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Using design tools: Mapping

I find that as soon as I recognise an opportunity or problem, probable solutions almost simultaneously arise in my head. As tempting as it is to have conviction in your ideas that spring from blue sky thinking, I cannot stress enough the depth of impact one’s designs can have if they are truly rooted in insights.

I’ve been working with my teammates on identifying opportunities in the domain of education and learning environments. We’re working towards encouraging collaboration and participatory learning through the use of technology. Having come a long way since the first exploration, we are currently fine tuning our proposed concept. But here are some quick notes I’d like to share about what I’ve learnt about design research through this project:

It’s okay to start with nothing

We began with a blank canvas, not sure of the direction we were heading in, and more importantly, not knowing what we wanted to find out. The first big revelation was realising how little we knew about our subject of interest.

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Activity mapping

The activity map helped us identify points of relevance. We now knew what information to seek.

Asking isn’t the best way of finding out:

I hate questionnaires. Surveys and quantitative questions surely help you get a look at the big picture, and understand behaviour and choices on a level of scale; but I’m not particularly crazy about surveys. They’re important but not the only method to rely on. Asking usually results in superficial answers not revealing the reasons behind preferences. In fact, people often don’t open up in formal settings.

The same research questions can be addressed in more creative ways. Creating an environment of ease and trust can change the quality of answers.

Observation, shadowing, role playing, group discussions, media scans and interviews reap much more meaningful information that eventually inspire solutions.

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We played spin the bottle with kids to make them comfortable

We played spin the bottle in to make the kids feel comfortable and get answers at the same time.

Read between the lines:

Respondents don’t always mean what they say. It takes empathy and curiosity to interpret opinions shared by respondents. For example, a respondent may say ‘I don’t like History’. What he may really mean is he doesn’t enjoy memorising in school. It would be wrong to assume this correlation. What I encourage is further probing and using creative ways to find out the whys behind what they share.

Insights and last thoughts:

Insights may seem obvious in hindsight, but experiencing them first hand really drives ideas. There’s nothing more inspiring than understanding context. There were countless times where just seeing the environment, observing the way people behave triggered ideas that we otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.

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Insights and ideas derived

The human captcha!

“I’m not a robot”, the captcha says, asking you to check the box beside it. Enter some garbled text to prove that you are not a piece of code. Identify a common object.

“I’m not a robot”, the captcha says, asking you to check the box beside it. Enter some garbled text to prove that you are not a piece of code. Identify a common object.

The captcha experience!

The captcha experience!

This made me question — why? And does it have to be so boring?

We turned the phrase around, reframing it as “Prove that you’re human”, and making it the title for this ‘project’. We started finding situations where it would be necessary for someone to prove they are human.

Our launch party, thus, was our perfect chance to play with this concept. An aha moment — let’s create a forced barrier to entry — what if we find engaging ways for people to prove they are human before they interact with a certain aspect of the event. A play of words — “humans only — please prove you are human to enter”. A game — “make something human before you unlock your right to get a piece of cake”

And so the concepts started pouring in.

With just a week in hand to create this tangible interface — the challenge was exciting.

The Concept

From the ones that emerged, one particularly struck us. But before talking about it, I’ll invite you to try it:

The Captcha walkthrough!

The Design

Introduction page

The Introduction page.

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A huge geometric triangle pattern to crack in 5 seconds, an impossible task to humans.

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A complex equation to solve in 5 seconds, which is again an impossible task.

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Options to the complex equation. All the options are incorrect, which the user is oblivious to.

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The final screen, welcoming everyone as they all got the answers wrong to impossible questions, as they were all human.

Creating delight!

Words cannot express enough in here, so we are putting up some videos of how people reacted to the human captcha!

Recording of reactions of people responding to the captcha: Participant 1

Recording of reactions of people responding to the captcha: Participant 2

What’s your take on the captcha? We’re curating fun ways to “prove you’re human”. Send in your ideas to hello@thehumanexperience.io and we’ll be happy to feature your work here.

Celebrations galore! Human. is born.

Goodbye CraftUX. Welcome Human.

With the inception of human., we are opening new doors to the outer world and reaching out to more wonderful humans out there. One such occasion was the launch of human.

Goodbye CraftUX. Welcome Human.

With the inception of human., we are opening new doors to the outer world and reaching out to more wonderful humans out there. One such occasion was the launch of human.

Here are the highlights from the party! We hope you enjoy the snaps.

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Got our brand motto up at the right place. And, of course, got the party mood right.

There were lots of munchies and delicious refreshments. And, the best cake ever!

There were lots of munchies and delicious refreshments. And, the best cake ever!

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The speech, introducing human.

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‘Exquisite Corpses’: The game that brought out the child in everyone.

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Busy at the game!

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There was something for everyone.

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We had some amazing performers amongst us!

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We had postcards and paper robots as give aways.

We had a lot of fun launching human. We hope to see you again.

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