[Response] Week 2 – Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers – Jan Chipchase

Korean Street Food Culture

Jan Chipchase had provided an interesting guideline on calibrating culture of a place quickly, which is essential during user studies research. What he had covered in this chapter are subconsciously within all of us, but he gave an identity to all them and that will make us take notice of them in future. This chapter also conclude to a main point of “be meticulous”.

One thing he mentioned was to put ourselves in local mindset during Rapid Culture Calibration. I would like to point out that it will be hard for us, as a foreigner there, to fully immerse ourselves into a totally different culture. Simply because, we will feel some sort of anxiousness or cautiousness during our stay there as we have uncertainty of the place too. However, he also brought up the idea of partnering with a local team. Partnering with a local team is a good idea as they know what and where will be “truly local” to visit etc. Also, it will be especially beneficial in places that are not as safe or places with language barrier (Especially for places that speaks dialects)

I am very surprised that Jan Chipchase included visiting salon as one of his method too. This is one of the way that are not as common but effective. Hairdressers are constantly meeting new people and having conversations with different people.

On top of these, I would like to add in another method will be having conversations with taxi drivers (or Grab and Uber drivers now). They are usually the ones who really meet people from all walk of life. From tourists to students to working adult and so on.

From personal experience, I always have good talks with taxi/grab/uber drivers, they will talk about their day, their worries, their uncommon encounters. Most of the drivers will also talk about their worries about their future, after knowing that I am a student. Very often, they will talk about they are losing out to the society etc due to their limitation in skillset. Some of the drivers will also talk about what the other customers told them, from gossips to culture of different people too. Especially those older drivers, they often talk about how Singapore had improved/changed over the years too. I guess from here we can also figure out insights of the country too.

I would say that conversing with taxi drivers will be a better option as they are constantly moving around and meeting new people. They are also part of the country’s transportation.

All in all, this chapter gave a definite idea on how to research on users which is very important in a design process. Getting to know the culture of the users will highlight the needs and difficulties of different user groups. This will identify the bigger image of why we design. From there on, by bringing in the knowledge from what Don Norman mentioned in “The Design of Everyday Things”, we can design something that will surely bring about a great experience for users.


  1. Is there a possibility of having a product that will be so universal that everybody can use it?
  2. How do we gauge how much of culture of one place should we inject into our design to make sure that it’s not overdoing?

[Response] Week 1 – The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Chapter 1 of “The Design of Everyday Things” was informative as it pointed out many things that do not stand out to me in everyday life. Don Norman gave a term to classify certain conditions or situations that we experienced daily. He put together numerous everyday examples to illustrate his points to readers and it was easy to relate and understand too.

It was highlighted that the characteristics of good design is discoverability and understanding. I do agree with this as for a product to be useful for intended user, they should know how to fully utilize the product.

He introduced affordance, signifier, constraint, mapping, feedback and conceptual models in this chapter and it really gives a clearer image of the more abstract term of “user experience”.

I did some app interfaces before and I really struggled with informing users of all the available functions without cluttering the whole screen. Also, the selection of icons to be used and certain work flow had to be mindful too, especially when common users are now more accustomed to either Android or Apple. After reading this chapter, I can explain some of my design decisions clearly to people.

This is an applicable chapter, especially when we start to take note of the products or situations in our daily life. For instance, when we tap in at the MRT gantry. It is not uncommon for commuters to mistake the screen that displays the status of that gantry as the tap card zone. I would say that user’s attention often lands on the screen before the tap card zone as it’s brightly lit and the icon is more familiar. The signifier will be the image on the tap card. However, the shape of the screen is identical to the Ezlink card so users can mistake that as the tapping zone, according to natural mapping that was mentioned in the chapter.

I am still slightly confused about constraint as he only gave the scissors example. At some point, I did confuse constraint with affordance. Affordance is a relationship whereas constraint is somewhat like a parameter set by the designer I would say. This is what I understand right now, please do correct me if I’m wrong.