Bill Gaver, Tony Dunne, and Elena Pacenti
As a product designer, I remember doing cultural probing in undergrad days. Our group’s goal was to make a new entertainment product for people our age (early 20s at that time). We handed out our very own cultural probing package to people who were unique in certain ways but who were all aged in their early 20s. We handed the packages out to physics majors, design majors, engineering majors, etc. We gave them a diary to write on along with stickers, pens, magazines, etc. so that they could decorate their diary. It was experimenting with cultural probes and to see the diverse results cultural probing had to offer. And fortunately, we did “explore functions, experiences, and cultural placements quite outside the norm.” Because we didn’t want the probing package to seem like a project, or something irritable for the tester, we tried to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible so that people would actually WANT to record their daily lives. Along with giving them probing packages, we also carried other methods such as shadow tracking to see different people’s lives and to see it in their point of view. We believed that there was only so much information that could be gathered if we left the testers to do everything on their own therefore we followed them around the entire day acting as their shadows and documented and recorded their entire actions of that day. We would also talk with them during different instances and receive direct feedback and very useful opinions. After an analysis of the probing packages, we realized different tendencies of different people in their early 20s and made a product that would soothe each user at different times. Like the article mentions, we received feedback from the testers saying that this cultural probing package made the testers rethink about how they acted in their daily lives and some even thanked us for giving them a fun and interesting experience.
Marion Buchenau, Jane Fulton Suri
Prototyping, as everyone knows it, is used for “understanding, exploring, and communicating.” There are so many different types of prototyping that it is really hard to define or explain prototyping as a single word. One action is better than saying a hundred words. I believe this to be the motto of prototyping. Clearly, from this article, we can see that prototyping is used for three main purposes: reliving existing experiences for better understanding, exploring new and intuitive design ideas and to check on feasibility, and communicating design concepts for better understanding. For each instance, people must check the methods of communicating prototypes for better understanding of different targets.
Although acting out a certain case (Train Journey Experience, ROV Pilot Experience, Patient Experience) may be effective, it is sometimes really hard to grasp the “real” environment unless you are actually in the user’s shoe. I think it was a very good idea to ask questions to an ex-ROV Pilot in order to relive the Pilot experience. This gives the prototype much more depth and a solid base to work off from. It would also be very fun to act out certain circumstances in a train journey and act randomly. Instead of trying to make a gadget that you think “looks cool” and is “up-to-date” in technology, prototyping gives you a sort of proof that a proposed design WILL affect certain people and WILL be of beneficial use for a diverse range of people.