Digital Making Log: Week 3

Design for America (DFA) visited our class this week for an extensive workshop on how designers get from a problem, to an idea, and to a solution. We implemented the same processes the professionals use, and started out by watching this video:

It’s pretty fascinating. They sniffed out all the problems consumers had with the traditional shopping cart, came up with solutions for each individual problem, and synthesized a good final product that addressed everyone’s concerns. The most interesting thing to me about this video is the actual processes they used: post-it notes and a constant, unabashed flow of ideas.

Our workshop took on pretty much the same format.

– We were given a problem (distracted driving)

– We were given research testimonials (people talking about how distracted driving affected them)

– We went on to do our own research with questioning our classmates

– We came together as a group to share the problems we found, from boredom to the necessity of using a smart phone GPS

– We came up with a slew of solutions, ranking the feasibility and consumer desirability of each solution

– And then we (my group) came up with a product that incorporated the solutions, prototyping and demoing it for the rest of the class (see the picture below for one group’s prototype)

Photo by Zong Ze Chua

Photo by Zong Ze Chua

My group had a less photogenic prototype: A sheet of paper representing a windshield that was gamified and interfaced with the driver’s smartphone.

So what?

I never knew the actual processes of design, as I said in my last post, I’m a journalism major and haven’t really done anything with design. Now that I know how the pros do it, I think I have what it takes to come-up with a problem consumers have, and print a solution to that problem.

Looking toward the future, I’ll keep an eye out for problems I run into that could be solved with some ingenuity and layered plastic. I’m still pretty ignorant on the technical skills necessary to model, so I guess my next step is to focus on that while I ideate.

Week 3

This week’s class was run by Design for America (DFA) a group that promotes designing to create an impact. I had never heard of this organization before and I had no clue what to expect from a Design Thinking Workshop.

As soon as we formed groups we were given various art supplies including modeling clay, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, sharpies, and plenty of post-its. Everyone was excited to relive their childhood through these items to hopefully create something fun.

At the start of DFA’s presentation almost everyone had molded their modeling clay into some funky shape and was anxious to know what was coming next. I know I was.

Our first activity was a warm up to get our minds ready to be creative. We played a fun game that was very difficult to explain but quite easy once we got the hang of it. Basically you had to shout out random things and act it out. The point was to create a scene and then later recreate that scene, but we pretty much failed because we couldn’t remember past the first one.

Later on we were given a scenario that included a variety of distracted drivers and we used this for the rest of the workshop. We started by interviewing members of our group regarding distracted driving. Then we finally got to put some of our supplies to use for the next task. We took all of the information we collected from our interviews and wrote down all the important ideas onto post-its.

Here’s some of the post-its from another group:


At first I had no idea where this was going and where the post-its were going to lead us. I went along with it and tried my best to use the tools and examples they provided us to come up with my own ideas.

Next we talked with our groups and tried to organize all of the things we wrote down onto one sheet of giant post-it paper. Pretty soon our papers were filled and a little chaotic.

Here’s what ours looked like at the end:

2015-02-04 01.01.37


Yeah, we know, too many arrows and lines. Trust me, we knew what it meant.

Eventually we went through a process of adding more post-its onto more giant post-it papers that eventually led us to a solution to the over problem of distracting driving.

Oh, and in the middle of all the post-its we played a little game that was supposed to get our creative juices flowing even more. The premise was to have one person have a treasure box and the other person asks what’s in the box. This led to a lot of strange discussions and was a lot of fun. Since I am not a particularly creative person I built off of my partner’s ideas to try to push myself a bit.

The last task, and the most anticipated part of the day, was the prototype designing of our solutions. For my group this was a lot more discussion about how realistic our idea was, but we were eventually directed to just build something even if it’s not feasible cause that’s not the point. We need to have bad ideas in order to eventually have good ideas that lead to real products.

This was probably the hardest part for me because I like to be realistic about things, not just make a bunch of failed prototypes. But let’s be honest, no one could have come up with a 100% successful idea in a workshop that’s only 3 hours long. And even if we did have a good idea, there were always going to be flaws with it.

I learned a lesson a valuable lesson that day about designing. It’s not easy!

Having gone through the process of designing following the guidelines that DFA directed us through, I will take the tools they offered and transfer the skills I learned into future projects in the course and beyond.