WNM700 Module 01

Friday, January 4th, 2019 | Module


Welcome to Human-Centered Design Approach. This course will focus on producing rich and original interactive concepts. The purpose of this course is to create new and needed design solutions, not derivatives or recreations of proven patterns. Visuals, polish, and technical implementation are secondary in this course. Innovation in your proposed solutions is paramount. Justifying based on real need is important. A sound mental model must be created for each system investigated. Creating work that is humane is necessary. You must be prepared to test your designs with rigor. You will be encouraged to iterate. There will be no “final” design. In many ways, the purpose of this class is to fail, and then learn from that failure.

You will study methodologies and learning from many design sources in this course, but of particular interest to us is the work of IDEO, the d.school at Stanford, the scholarship work of Don Norman, the practicum of Bill Moggridge, and the Design Lab at University of Sydney. Many of the worksheets and readings you will receive will come from these proven sources, such as design project zero this week.

So, roll up your sleeves, get out your sharpies and post-its, and let’s get started.


Principles of Conversation for this course

• Together, we know more.
• Be tough on projects, but be gentle on people.
• Feedback must always be actionable.
• Jargon isn’t as important as innovation.
• Design is about making the invisible, visible.
• Conversation beats bulleted lists (like this one).

(Paraphrased via Andrew Zolli, Hillman Curtis)


Creating your Process Journal

You should be keeping a journal that documents your progress throughout this class. You are required to keep this journal in a simple format. Text files, inDesign document, google docs, or other note taking software are all acceptable, but you must submit the journal in PDF format when requested for class credit. The appearance and formatting of the journal will not be graded or evaluated, so don’t worry about making it “pretty”, although you are welcome to organize your thoughts however you like.

Several prompts and tasks will be assigned to you as you develop your process journal. Additionally, think of this as your sketchbook and process document for your development of your ideas in this course. Keeping copious notes regarding your projects’ progress and feedback are required, regardless of prompts. You can add to your journal without being prompted!

You will receive a grade in this course for your journal and participation. A comprehensive and academically rigorous journal will receive a better grade. When in doubt, document your findings.

Each week, turn in what you have done for that week’s journal prompts. At the end of each project, compile all of your journal entries to a single PDF document for review.

Create your first entry in your Process Journal. Create a title page with your name, the course number, the academic semester, and an image which will motivate you to document everything you find in this course.


Assume a beginner’s mindset

You carry your own experiences, understanding, and expertise. Your unique perspective is an incredibly valuable asset to bring to any design challenge. At the same time, your viewpoint carries assumptions and personal beliefs. Your preconceived notions may, in fact, be misconceptions or stereotypes, and can limit the amount of real empathy you can build. Assume a beginner’s mindset in order to put aside biases and approach a design challenge with fresh eyes.

How to assume a beginner’s mindset:

Don’t judge.

Observe and engage users without the influence of value judgments on their actions, circumstances, decisions, or “issues.”

Question everything.

Even (and especially) the things you think you already understand. Ask questions to learn about the world from the user’s perspective.

Be truly curious.

Strive to assume a posture of wonder and curiosity, both in circumstances that seem either familiar or uncomfortable.

Find patterns.

Look for interesting threads and themes that emerge across user interactions.

Listen. Really.

Ditch any agendas and let the scene soak into your psyche. Absorb what users say to you, and how they say it, without thinking about how you’re going to respond.



Many designers commonly work from the perspective of the project or product expert and then applying their expertise to the problem at hand. This is a common way to work. Maybe you’ve even heard someone say “this product will be like x for y!” Such as “It’s like Uber for pizza!” Human-centered design flips this on its head. Start with the topic, find the people associated with that topic, talk to them, and then that investigation of need leads to the project. This can be a scary way to work. A human-centered designer starts a design project having no idea what form their project will ultimately take.

Create a page in your journal responding to the beginner’s mindset. Have you ever held a pre-conceived notion that you ultimately found to be false? Name a topic that you find fascinating, but know very little about. How and why would you find out more? Can you recall a memory when you spoke, when you could have listened?

Share your experience! Use writing, sketching, or diagramming.


Design Project Zero (and a half)

Congratulations on completing Design Project Zero. In this project, you are asked to produce a design with a user of one: your partner. After interviewing, gaining a perspective, ideating, and prototyping your design, you should now be left with the artifacts of the design process. What are these artifacts? What can you learn from the process, and what would you do to broaden out your design?

Create a page in your journal responding to Design Project Zero.

• How did engaging with a real person and testing with a real person change the direction of your prototype?
• What was it like showing unfinished work to another person?
• How did the pace feel? Quick, iterative cycles. How did that feel to how you normally work?
• Human-Centered design is an iterative, self-directed process. Based on what you learned, what would you go back and do next? What would you do over again?
• How was the experience as a user? How did you interact with your partner’s lowly-resolved prototype? How did the level of resolution (the fidelity) impart your experience as a user?

Devote a page in your journal to answering these questions in writing honestly and reflect on your design process. Would you keep a seed of your prototype, or move in another direction entirely if you were to continue solving this design brief? What information is missing?

Devote another page in your journal to where this future design could go. Sketch, diagram, or outline the future of your gift-giving design.


Introduction to HCD

Read the Introduction to Human-Centered design care of +ACUMEN and IDEO.

Create a page in your journal responding to the reading. Which is the most important take away of this approach? Can you think or find an example of a product, service, space, or system that could benefit from this approach? How will you embrace failing, empathy, production, iteration, and testing in your design process? In what ways did IDEO use Human-Centered design approach to build the project “Clean Team” in the case study? Are there any limits to HCD, or scenarios you can think of that might warrant a different approach?

Use writing, sketching, or diagramming.


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