Part 1: Documentation and Analysis of MRT.


My group came up with a list of issues that we identified for both the train ride and the bus ride. Below are some accompanying photos to show what we observed.


Out of all the issues raised, the following 3 were chosen to be studied in greater details.

Observation Problem Solution
Font size too small for most of the signs People do not notice the signage and can’t be bothered to put in the effort to read them, missing out on important announcements.
  • Larger font sizes, better contrast, more space. Attention symbols LED boards inside the bus
  • Physical signs with bus stop names to be placed BEFORE the bus stop
  • Have a automated voice say where the next stop is (Like the MRT)
  • Phone app that helps people to map their destinations and alerting them to alight.
Passengers refuse to move into the rear of the buses. Limit the capacity potential of the bus.
  • Use speakers to allow drivers to encourage passengers to move in.
  • Longer buses, allow people to board from the back door as well.
  • Change of tone in the reminders – polite to more authoritative and humorous.
  • Redesign of the bus so that the exit door is at the back.
  • Incentives to motivate passengers to move in.
Disembarking passengers from upper deck clashes with boarding passengers from lower deck Takes a long time for passengers to board and alight.
  • Bus captain can let passengers alight before opening the front door for passengers to board.
  • Redesign of bus so that stairs is right at the bus exit.

Part 2: Reading

I got really excited reading this chapter because I could relate to the joy of gaining personal and more profound experience through exploring new places in the ways the author suggested.  I personally prefer immersing myself among people and places rather than hearing or reading about them. Interviews and write-ups more than often are biased feedbacks because they might subliminally be carrying the author’s agendas of reproaching or endorsing the culture or a people group. However it is also important to strike a balance between experiencing the cultural difference for myself and listening to other people because their sharing can most directly and bluntly reflect any needs or problems that design could resolve.

What struck me was the suggestion on breaching behaviors to quickly understand the unwritten rules in a culture. It’s refreshing to realize that coming up with original ideas could be achieved by pushing the “safe” boundaries. We might be missing out on brilliant ideas because we label ideas that do not comply with the social norm as “untouchables”. But just as the author mentioned, these norms do evolve as time passes, and our pre conceived knowledge of these unspoken rules can prevent us from creating products that are extraordinary.

Another insight was when the author mentioned about comparing the understanding of a new culture with my own. Finding out the similarities between cultures could help to design products which are relatable and enduring because it’s based on experiences that I am familiar with. The differences could help to modify the product to cater better to a specific group of customers by increasing the worth and value of it to them.

However, as I bring my own experiences and culture norms to a different place. I tend to see things differently from locals as well. How then can I be sure that the nodes of conflict I identify are things that matter to them as well? Perhaps they are so used to it and see it as a part of their identity instead of something that needs to be resolved. Similarly as we design for our own people group, how could we see from a fresh perspective because we are so adapted to the way things are here?

Secondly, this approach of research seeks that we understand and see from the perspective of the customers. How practical is this approach of research if we only have a limited amount of time? Being able to empathize with the customers’ needs will take longer than a day or two of “Going Native”. Wouldn’t this approach in the short run then be as good as gaining this understanding through online measures?

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