Final Bachelor Project | introduction

For my FBP I worked within the Studio Silver squad. This squad focuses on design for inclusive aging (design blending into life of elderly), behavior change and dementia. Within this squad I worked on a project about exploring personalisation by application and analyzation of the personal design process with older adults (see report, add report).

 

The aging population is a still rising problem globally and in the Netherlands. As life expectancy rates increase, chances for valuable activities in the daily life of older adults may decrease due to changing personal circumstances. And so the chance for social engagement and empowerment which are important aspects of healthy aging. In order to address the uniqueness of this diverse target group it is important to focus on their actual needs, daily life pleasures, and bringing their voices to the center of participatory projects. For this study it was explored how the personal design process creates design that reinforces the daily pleasures of older adults.

 

Therefore an iterative process consisting of 7 iterations and 7 participatory moments (workshops and studies) has been used, based upon existing literature (see figure).

Within this process three personal designs were made resulting into one final design for one of the participants, Alice. This ended up into the design of Library of Wisdoms: an interior object, reinforcing the pleasure of giving advice, by encouraging empowerment and social engagement through wisdom exchange in a community setting. It became clear that the participatory moments enabled to reinforce these daily pleasures by creating opportunities for empowerment and social engagement, while engaging in the process and through personal designs made. Participants were empowered through creation of value by the design created and through the process of participation, resulting into personal insights, designer-participant bonding and pride. Moreover, participants were socially engaged through the creation of wisdoms and knowledge exchange and their role within the participatory process. Furthermore, those moments enabled the designer to deal with the uniqueness and diversity of the target group by creating empathy with the individual participants.

User & Society | present development

Since user & society is the area of expertise most in line with my professional identity and vision I focused a lot on this one during my fbp. One of my goals was to deepen my user research skills by gaining experience with various user evaluation methods. Therefore I wanted to gain experience with co-design in order to get comfortable with preparing user studies and back-up plans to become a more flexible design researcher. During my fbp I have gone through the personal design process, a co-design process, with various participatory moments in different iterations of the process. Hereby I have gained lots of experience with co-design, learned to thoroughly prepare workshops and studies through protocols just as back-up plans and applied those when needed. While going through these various, tailored, participatory moments I have deepened my user research skills by gaining experienced with various user evaluation methods fitting the participants, e.g. pleasures in life workshop, kick-off conversation, semi-structured interviews, observations and moodboard workshop. Furthermore I wanted to improve my communication skills regards special needs groups which is related to my vision. This in order to be able to fully empathize with the users involved in the participatory process. Through co-designing and being so highly involved with three participants I have definitely improved my communication skills. Expectations differed, misunderstandings happened and even one of my participants wanted to withdrawal because of high participant load, however I managed to solve these issues and create good participant-designer bonds. 

Math, Data & Computing | present development

Within this area I had 2 goals related to the processing of large data sets which are common when involved in user research. I wanted to get acquainted with various data analyzation methods for qualitative and quantitative user research data so I can validate my user study results. Especially because I only used the method written by Brown & Clarke in previous projects to analyze my qualitative data. During my fbp I have done lots of workshops and 2 user studies which I had voice recorded and transcribed, leading into huge transcriptions covering qualitative data out of sometimes 1-or 1,5 hour- lasting- conversations. In this way I learned to process huge amounts of data, analyze them and pick what’s most important for ideation, conceptualization or study results. Since lots of data sets were used to inspire ideation or conceptualization I learned to use thematic analysis methods that were more explorative than the one from Brown & Clarke. Hereby my goal was met. Furthermore, I wanted to improve my data visualization skill in order to effectively communicate results to coaches, experts and participants for transparency in a professional manner and for reflection purposes. During my fbp I have really learned to translate these data sets into useful outcomes for the process, as concepts or personal aesthetics. In order to communicate results towards coaches I learned it was important to visualize those outcomes and support them with quotes from the transcripts. In this way I learned to effectively communicate my results.

Creativity & Aesthetics | present development

Within this area I had set no specific goals, since I had developed this competency already quite far through past activities, mainly in my internship. However I wanted to implement my learned skills regarding the making of quick experiential prototypes; formgiving, coloring and materials; and sketching into this project. This in order to reflect on the value of the acquainted skills through the eyes of a designer and of the participants. What surprised me was that I have used my sketching skills out of the course Exploratory Sketching a lot to communicate my personal design concepts to e.g. Alice when she had to choose a concept preference or during the Midterm Demo Day to inform the coaches. Moreover I did my ideation mostly with mind mapping and quick sketches, however I have implemented my quick prototyping skill during the making of low-fidelity Wizard of Oz prototypes for the intermediate studies. In my opinion I could have used this skill a bit earlier in the project to ease giving input for the participants during the concept evaluation workshop for example.
When making the moodboards for the moodboard workshop with Alice I could implement what I learned about creating styles through formgiving, coloring and materials. This by making 4 moodboards reflecting different styles based upon underlying moods and emotions and expressed by those components. When I had to translate the chosen moodboard into the final personal design I learned how to actually implement formgiving, coloring and materiality into a design vision and even into a prototype.

Business & Entrepreneurship| present development

Last semester I already gained new skills within the field of business and entrepreneurship during my internship. These involved the exploration of product implementation in the market, using business model canvas and making a business plan for production. However, I wanted to gain knowledge and experience on how to create market opportunities; finding customer needs and creating a viable business concept. This to make me a more realistic and professional designer and so I have the knowledge to put my designs in the market as a future designer. Since the focus in my FBP was mainly on user & society, math, data & computing and design research processes I achieved these goals through the course Design Innovation Methods. Within this course I had to find new market opportunities for the Smart Goals system (former ID project) and learned to explore market possibilities, find the needs of the customers within a segment, create business concepts, validating them with the customers through various prototypes and turned it into a business model canvas, pricing strategy and value proposition. In this way I achieved my goals within this competency.

Technology & Realization | present development

Regarding technology & realization I wanted to improve my prototyping skills involving electronic circuits and hardware programming in order to translate my vision on providing the user with logical, intuitive and aesthetical interaction to create intended experiences. During my fbp I wanted to implement programming electronics into the final personal design for the long-term study. However, the chosen final design by Alice did not involve any electronics. This was overdue for its purpose and did not fit the capabilities of the participant. Although I could not implement the goal into this part of the fbp process I have learned to design its interactions as grabbing a copy, making a wisdom template, hanging wisdom on washing line but then without technology involved. Moreover, to compensate I therefore made the whole prototype myself, learned to create a prototype plan with all materials, sizes, components and lasercut drawings needed. This gave me the confidence I was able to work out my concepts and handle with the interactions into this prototyping process.  
Furthermore, for the intermediate study with Johan I had to make a Wizard of Oz prototype of the personal design concept made for him. Hereby I learned to create the best ways to fake the experience through prototyping the intended tactile interactions and audio feedback system (on Ipad). In this way I could still live up to my goal set and developed a sufficient base within this competency.

Design Research Processes | present development

During my internship last semester I have learned to gain control over my design process, switching from detailed work (first perspective) to process overview (third perspective). However during my Final Bachelor Project I wanted to find out whether constructive design research would be a fitting career track for me during my masters. Therefore I wanted to gain control over my design research processes as well, when working on individual basis.
By going through the personal design process; adapting it myself (adding studies and workshops) to be more applicable for the research scope; reflecting on it; defining my own methods within these participatory moments and switching between detailed work (co-design sessions) and helicopter view (paper writing, scoping, literature research) I learned to manage the design research process. Furthermore since some unexpected things happened as misunderstandings and withdrawal I learned to manage that as well and become a more flexible designer.

Professional skills | present development

Communication & Cooperating

The personal design process within my fbp was a perfect way to improve my communication and cooperating skills. This through the high user involvement, close collaborations with participants. I learned to fit workshop content to their personal capabilities, fully empathize with them, sharing information, deal with difficult situations (withdrawal, differing expectations) and to cooperate with my client stichting Ontmoet & Groet Huys. By having close contact with the experts at the Ontmoet & Groet Huys I was able to use them as mediator between designer and participant, recruiting participants, help solving participant problems and managing to carry out a long-term in context study. 

Organizing & Planning

Due to all those participatory workshops I learned to plan and organize them, taking the participant’s wishes into account. Learned to stick to my planning, reflect on it and adapt it when needed. Furthermore due to my coach meetings where I reflected with my coach on my fbp process I learned the importance of discussing planning and organizational actions to implement other’s perspectives. Moreover, as said in the previous professional skill I learned to deal with unexpected events in my planning (no participation, different expectations of process or tasks, withdrawal, preparing back-up plans for during workshops, arranging new participants with client). 

Reflecting

During my fbp I reflected a lot on my process and on my personal design concepts and workshop approaches. I have learned to draw weekly processes to make it easy to reflect upon. Moreover, I reflected upon almost every participatory moment for myself and took these insights with me in the next sessions. What was important is that during this project I learned to reflect upon workshops, final outcomes and processes WITH the participants which gave me valuable insights for in future projects. Additionally, I  turned my midterm reflection into action during workshops and planning & organization by setting clear goals before moving on with phase 2 and by implementing more reflection moments with participants.

Presenting

Due to the workshops given by the squad on pitching and preparing for Demo Days I have learned how to use of different media to present, to apply layers when presenting (3-30-300 method) and to use story blocks to prepare. Furthermore through this pitching workshop, midterm demo day, final demo day, coach meetings and expert meetings I learned to convey the messages I wanted to tell and managed to get feedback on the topics wanted. Moreover, during the long-term study at the Ontmoet & Groet Huys I learned to present my project towards laymans in the field of design and managed by that to gather their input.  

Professional identity & Vision | present development

Through my fbp I wanted to explore design research, dive deeper than Project 3 Design Research and find out my potential for academia (master track constructive design research). I noticed what I liked most within design research is the close contact with participants, thoroughly analyzing large data sets and creating real value for the user by this. However, I discovered I did not like the aspect of only doing this for the sake of gaining insights for research community. Therefore I shifted my focus on design research back to implementing design research skills into the design process with design as outcome. In this way my professional identity did not change much from the last half year except for the fact I am doing research to inform the design process instead of for informing the research community. Within my professional identity I had already stated it is characterized by  conceptualization and high user involvement, always willing to find a close fit with the user and target group. However when going through a personal design process in my fbp I learned the values of this process and will more often apply this into projects. Therefore I took this with me in my current professional identity. 
Regarding my vision I still stick to becoming an experience designer creating daily life experiences for special need groups that enhance their feeling of empowerment and fulfills their needs of social belonging which allows them to add value to others in society on a daily basis. This fbp project made me implement my vision into the designs and the process and found out its value for the participants, really able to create change in their daily lives. 

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Overall design research process