present: final bachelor project

integration of expertise areas

user & society

My project’s main goal was on changing perspective. Therefore, there was an automatic focus on user and society. Design decisions were made based on theories about perspective change as well as results from a survey, user test, brainstorm, expert meetings and intuition. Through these many sources the needs for the user could be scoped out clearly.

Although I believe a first-person approach to design is often valuable, this project showed me how it is merely an asset that is meant to be used in combination with other approaches. Results from the user test made it clear that the issue that was being addressed was an issue users do not feel. This asked for a huge focus on the confrontation part of the design and forced me to do research on the psychological approaches to doing this as well as other design project in which confrontation or perspective-change techniques are used.

The brainstorm sessions were very valuable to me. Because the majority of the participants were not designers I focused on communicating the concept, making sure I was not getting feedback on the product but the concept. Still, participants had quite some trouble with ideating and brainstorming. Through this, I learned that I should not only focus on the communication but also give participants the tools in order to fulfill the goals I want to achieve.

creativity & aesthetics

During the beginning of the design process I found the ideation phases quite challenging. I noticed how I often got stuck when trying to think of new concepts or ideas. I feel most comfortable with rapid sketching, but since that was not as fruitful I decided to work with other materials, too. As preparation for a brainstorm session I prepared several lo-fi prototypes with clay and paper and made digital images. Through courses such as Idea to Design, Cardboard Modelling, Exploratory Sketching and Basic Formgiving Skills I’ve come across several techniques but through the process of my FBP I gained insight in which techniques are useful for what. Rapid prototyping with materials found at home worked for large quantities of ideas, while techniques such as sketching cardboard modelling was more useful for aesthetical ideation. Hands-on creating is something out of my comfort zone, but I always saw the value in it. It took me a while to find what works best for me but am now able to apply different techniques for the right purposes.

Another important part of the design process were the conscious decisions on aesthetics of the physical prototype. Though the course Aesthetics of Interaction I learned about the theoretical framework for experience and interaction design, but in the FBP I wanted to focus more heavily on what the prototype communicates to the user. Never before have I realized how much the final aesthetics are also defined by business. There was a part in the prototype I ideally wanted to make from silicone rubber but this was way too expensive and therefore not realistic. Consequently I had to find alternatives which taught me the huge amount of materials there are that work as well.

math, data & computing

In order to develop the game I’ve learned a new coding language: C#. Through several followed courses and personal activities outside the curriculum I already had experience in languages HTML, Arduino, Python, Processing (simplified Java), R and Java, of which Python the most developed. Because of the knowledge in this, learning C# went quite smooth and I realized coding is actually a skill I underestimated myself in.                         

The data collected in my FBP was mostly qualitative. Since my heavy focus on users I see how much value there is in the perceptions and experiences of users, but this project also showed me the downsides of qualitative data. The data was analyzed through approaches learned in courses such as Design <> Research and Behavioral research methods 1. Themes developed themselves from the data quite easily which eventually gave useful insights that showed the project had to go in a different direction. Having used more of a mixed-method approach, these insights would also have given the project to go into. Although not expected, the project would benefitted from quantitative data too making it clear that this type of data should not be neglected on beforehand.

technology & realization

Through the course Basic Formgiving Skills I’ve learned the skills to finish a product in an aesthetically pleasing way. However building prototypes is still a challenge for me, also for electronics. This result does not mean I did not develop myself in this area during the FBP. Building the prototype tested me in my knowledge in Physics. Often, similar projects can be found on the internet and can be used as a resource. That was also the case in this project, but it needed to be tweaked in order to fulfill my purpose. Naturally there was no answer on the internet that could provide this an because it was important to me to develop myself, I thought out the physics of the product in electronics as well as the mechanics myself before I asked others. Although I realize I could have built a better-working and more qualitative prototype in terms of both mechanics and electronics, I feel it was necessary for me to do this myself in order to gain the most confidence in building. Of course afterwards I should ask for feedback and learning points in order to learn new techniques.

business & entrepreneurship

Although I would have liked to have developed the business model in a much more elaborate manner, I have developed and even gained interests in the business side of a design process. In courses such as Introduction to Business Design and Design Innovation Methods I have learned to create business models for designs for personal use. Because the concept was not meant for personal use of the users, the business model could not be written for users as stakeholders. I learned that when the goal of the project does not match with the needs of the stakeholders, value can be created in order to make the business work. In addition to this I realized that this phase is similar to finding user needs. This made it easier for me to work on the business model, since finding user needs is such a focus of mine. Have I learned this earlier in my bachelor, I would be able to develop my skill in business more.

development of design & research processes

Starting out as a designer I made almost every choice based on my own intuition. Although I am human and culturally sensitive this never caused huge issues, but I could not explain my design decisions. By researching relevant scientific methods and implementing them into the design, I’ve learned that the design is not only much more supported but it also jumps to a further part in the process, giving it more time to go into detail.

In addition I learned how important having a vision is. In the FBP I constantly made decisions on research, intuition and vision. I found that research and intuition makes for your arguments in design decisions, but vision gives you the push for which direction to take. It not only helps you solve an issue, but also think about what the best way is to solve an issue In the project it was often hard for me to take the plunge, but then I looked at my vision and it immediately showed me which decision to make. It was therefore that I tried to keep developing this vision, especially in the first half of the project.

Design decisions are consciously made with academically based arguments as well as vision. Not just solving an issue but thinking about what is the best way to solve an issue.

I’ve also learned to go out of my comfort zone more often in design projects. Previous projects have shown me time and again how I developed my skills the most when I had to do activities I felt insecure on uncomfortable in. In my FBP I was aware of these uncomfortable activities but forced myself to keep the project as my main priority. This helped me to learn that is indeed true that every skill gets better by practice, although it might not be the level of quality I aimed for.

development of professional skills

I have a strong bird’s eye view and I often see solutions quickly, and how to get there. I have experienced multiple times that these solutions did not get a warm welcome in the team because I did not take the time to communicate them clearly. Often it then later turned out to indeed be a good solution. I have learned to be more patient with my team mates and realized that they sometimes need more time to see the bigger picture. I also taught myself to communicate more thorough and simplified. I tend to think I can neglect certain facts in communication because I assume everyone gets it. I now communicate in a much more detailed manner.

Another point in communication is that I can be quite direct in my thoughts an opinions. Although I do never mean it in that way, I experienced some people experience this as harsh. I now try to bring feedback in a positive manner, saying what can be done better and how instead of saying I think it’s not the right idea or direction. I have to say that I still am finding the sweet spot in communication. There have also been situations where I was too kind and I could show myself more. Because I believe communication is an important factor in teamwork, I will keep working to find the right form of communication.

Through my FBP I have learned that I am less independent than I thought. I always saw myself as someone who doesn’t necessarily need others in order to reach a project’s goal, since I always have a vision on how the project should go. By doing my FBP alone I realized a huge part of this vision is formed by discussing with others and seeing their views. I’ve learned that perspectives that differ a lot are also very useful. Communication might run smoothly in a team with the same perspectives, but different perspectives allow for a much more critical approach.

development of identity & vision

At the beginning of my bachelor my identity was based on my personal traits and did not relate to the design world. Through following courses and choosing electives I learned more about myself and was able to change my identity to what these personal traits mean in a design context and what their value is. It was rather soon I found user & society as my main topic of interest but it took a long road to find my specific interests. Where others had specific topics they wanted to design for, I felt that my main strength is taking responsibility for the whole design process rather than a specific topic. By exploring the expertise area user & society I am now finally able to say I am interested in being of value in the search for solutions in societal issues and increasing personal happiness through perspective change.

Vision always was a vague concept to me. Some would say it was about how design should be approached and others would say it is about how you want the world to be. Always stuck in the in-between, I decided to define my own definition for vision. For me, vision means how you want the world to be and what role design should take on in order to achieve this. This made it easier for me to know what my vision is, since it allowed for both personal views as well as my professional role as a designer. Through the years I’ve learned to argue my vision more clearly. Where at first it was written as some kind of dream that would be achieved, my vision now exists of what the value is of different types of approaches and how they attribute to the ultimate goal.

I am also aware this identity and vision will always keep changing. Seeing the importance in having a vision, I will put effort into regularly exploring my identity and vision in the future, and step out of my comfort zone.