“Design is the craft of visualising concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constraints” a important concept that is unpacked in this reading by Kim Goodwin. Visualising concrete solutions is where designers must excel at looking something blank and filling it with believable representations of an end product, so that others can see, understand and eventually build it. Craft is neither sci nor art but somewhere in between. Serve human needs and goals is where good design helps humans accomplish something in an efficient, effective, safe, and enjoyable ways. at same time, designers strive to go beyond the simply functional, since pleasure & aesthetic satisfactoion are also impt human goals. Within certain constraints just suggest that is no such thing as unconstrained design.

She also mentioned about “goal-directed design” for the approach towards product and service design where it places focus on achieveing goals. In it, are four components: principles, patterns, process & practices. Principles being guidelines for creating good solutions under specific circumstances but what is appropriate to one context may not apply to another. Patterns are types of solutions that tend to be useful for certain classes of problems. Process are the steps and techniques involved in planning and conducting design research, using it to develop personas, scenarios, and requirements, then using those to develop and iterate a design solution.


An overview of the Goal-Directed process


I personally really appreciate this framework where I think I find myself following for certain projects. Under modelling, she mentioned the importance of “personas”, user archetypes that help you make design decisions and communicate your rationale. Often times we lose sight of who we are the target audiences due to more ambitious idea where we want to include all and everyone (which is actually impossible as everyone is different and you just can’t please all). Hence I think it is really important to stick to those “personas” and focus on them only to truly be designing for those user archetypes.

There were also three kinds of framework mentioned under requirements definition – interaction framework (outlines how functionality is grouped and how the personas will accomplish the most critical tasks), visual framework (expresses th brand’s qualities in concrete terms, typically using design language studies divorced from the interaction design) and industrial design framework (consists of an approx. form factor and componeat architecture, physical expression of the brand developed in conjunction with the visial desian language, and a description of any hardware controls tht are essential to the interaction).

However no matter designing for anything, I think the overview (image above) can be a useful guide and backbone even if this is for goal-directed process, it could also apply for human-centered design? I feel like they may be two quite different things but somehow I feel there is still a connection and interrelatedness. (Just a thought after reading this.)

Question 1: Goal-directed design or human-centered design? Can it be a combination?

Question 2:  Are there situations where goal-directed design can be actually be a not so good way to go for product and service design? What can applied then if so?

Featured Image from here.

In the first chapter of Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman’s book, they started with, “we live in an artificial world. It is a world made up of environments, systems, processes, and things that are imagined, formed, and produced by humans.” I think this accurately portrays the current state our world is in, where almost many things are depending on technology be it living or non-living.

Thoughtful interaction design rests a huge responsibility on the designer’s choices. The relationship of the designer, client and user was mentioned and I found this particularly interesting because there are common cases where the designer puts aside many of their considerations to suit their clients and think nothing much about what happens later. “Design involves chance; it forces you to challenge the unknown and to create the not-yet-existing.” I think this is a important thing to keep in mind as a designer myself. What is currently being produced into the world or popular in the world might not the most ideal or suitable. What a designer could do is to take bits of information and piece it together to shape new opportunities as well as restrictions, it could be so powerful that it would change the world drastically or it could just simply change some minor aspects in life. As a designer, I think keeping at their fingertips the knowledge of human-based design is key and some questions to consider is how will this design change people’s lives? For the better or worse? What is it my design aims to achieve?

The authors also mentioned an interesting point about how a design process is not a process if the outcome can be predicted. How I interpreted this was that if the outcome could be predicted then perhaps the designer did not think much about or it was a half-hearted attempt to? From my own experiences, there were often times I had ideas that I thought would be “perfect” to execute that would achieve the ideal outcome I thought it would after much pondering, brainstorming and researching. However, often times, when I was so sure that often halfway through when you’re executing, you realise actually it isn’t as “perfect” as you thought it would turn out and everything changes once again. I guess to me that was what they meant by the outcome can’t be predicted because often times what we think may not what actually happen when it is put out into the world.


Task: Responding to the reading, find 2 examples of a product/project that you think are good examples of thoughtfully designed user experience. Be prepared to support your choices.

Tupperware's Eco Bottle

Why I considered this to be an good example of thoughtful designed user experience was because one problem that I had always faced with water bottles was firstly, the issue of water leakage and secondly, the portability of it. Many bottles that I had with me in the past always had the issue of water leaking from the cap even though they were always sold to be “watertight” and honestly the main purpose of a bottle is to hold the water and so preventing the water from escaping should be key right? Aside from that being it’s main purpose, the next important thing would be how one can bring the bottle around with them easily. There were some bottles that I had previously owned that was easy to carry on but there were also several that weren’t due to either weird positions that users are suppose to hold or painful to grip it for long periods. Because of this, often times I found that I had to change bottles from brand to brand but never really found one that could stick around for long.

However, after changing to this particular bottle as shown in the image above, my life totally changed. For the better.

Initially, I had my doubts about it being “watertight” but after testing it out many times in different situations, it actually doesn’t leak, at all! 😀 So, I was really lifted from the anxiety and frustration of always checking if the water had leaked and what has been damaged because of that. There was indeed a sense of security due it being very trustworthy that translated to me being more motivated to bring my water bottle around and one less burden for me. So for once, I felt that this bottle could finally serve its main purpose well. Aside from that, it is also easy and instinctive to grip it. The pretty colours and varying sizes were also plus points. Thinking back, what influenced me to get this was that I often see this particular design being used by many so I decided to try it out and turns out the experience was the answer to why it is so popularly used currently.

 Apple's MacBook Pro

Why I considered this to be an good example of thoughtful designed user experience was because previously I’ve always only been experiencing non-apple products. It was common for me to hear many praises for their products and it was rare to hear about unhappiness that arose from it which always caused me have this question in my head: are apple products really that good ? I had the chance to verify that myself when I entered university and my parents decided to painstakingly spend the money (because they heard that it was a better choice to have for design students) to buy me the macbook pro that I’m currently typing on for this very assignment.

Though at first there were some confusion and frustration since I was totally new to Apple’s interface and a long time user of windows. There were many times I had to spend some time figuring out how to use it and it was so bad to the extent I decided to just youtube tutorial of how to use a macbook. This may sound like a joke but there were no regrets from then on.

Firstly, what really impressed me the most was the speed of everything. It is really really efficient and easy to use (after getting the know-hows) but honestly, everything could be done very quickly – fast booting up and down , easy drag and drop of images/videos, etc – it is a long list. It saves plenty of time where the user can just jump straight into their work right away.

Another factor was the ability to “multitask” easily. While many can say any other laptop could do that but what I mean was the fact that you can open several windows and minimise them into different corners of the screen and you can still scroll it each of it just by hovering over the particular window. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered this because it further adds to the efficiency and convenience of doing my work.

Featured Image from here.

Tupperware’s Eco Bottle Image from here.

 Apple’s MacBook Pro Image from here.

This is an interesting reading that is extremely relatable and applicable in real life, because of that, it was a rather meaningful experience for me. What really resonated was his stating that the three essential items are keys, money and the mobile phone. He also mentioned that what one carries is what they consider essential & this also provides considerable insight into everything from everyday activities to hopes, values, beliefs, fears, how people relate to their world around them, and how the world out there relates back to them. In the modern times now, he couldn’t be more right about how these items are essential for one’s survival.

The “centers of gravity” (the bull’s eye where we aim to set an object down and the first place we look to retrieve it) and the “point of reflection” (that moment when a person pauses in order to run through a mental checklist of what they’re carrying & what thy may be forgotten) are two things we all do unconsciously, even I realize I’m also doing this without knowing. This also revolves around the concept of what what items we deem as the essential as these essential items are usually what we place at the center of gravity and we remember during the “point of reflection”.

Another point I found interesting was that about the range of distribution – the distance that people are willing to let their physical objects stray when they’re out and about. In Singapore, I believe that the majority of the people’s guards are usually down and they can be very willing to stray far distances from their belongings. This could be due to the belief that Singapore is very safe, where security levels are high so one don’t really have to worry much about people stealing their belongings. Such examples can be seen so apparently from the “chope-ing” of seats with tissue papers to the usage of umbrellas to even their own mobile phones and laptops. This is a scene that is highly uncommon outside of Singapore, more so for countries known for their bad levels security. For example, in Malaysia, which I travel to occasionally, I learnt that I cannot just place my belongings wherever I want and I have to be always alert and aware of my surroundings. The typical action of just whipping out your mobile phone and holding it in hand or tapping away at it while walking on the streets may be perfectly normal and commonly seen in Singapore but is something that you cannot do as freely as in Malaysia. Hence, I think it is also important to be adaptable base on your surroundings and the culture in the particular place.

Question 1: While it is convenient and efficient to be able to store information online, what happens when one day the technology breaks down or is violated? Should be be placing every single thing online and risk it having the chance to be used against us?

Question 2: While it is great that companies can customize their products or ads more towards our tastes, how do we ensure the balance between what is private and not?

Featured image from here.


This text written by Annette Kim focuses on how important sidewalks are in cities, especially so when it is often so overlooked or disregarded. After going through this reading, I realized how something so ordinary and mundane can hold so much importance and information of both the privileged and more importantly the lower income and marginalized urban dwellers who try to make a living in this space. It is also interesting where she raised the point of “the new paradigm seems to be that people on the sidewalks need to keep moving.” I feel that this point is especially true as societies grow more advanced and developed, life also gets “fast-forwarded” and rushing to one place to another. Taking into mind the lecture given earlier this week about “place”, I feel that sidewalks are such “places” where it holds numerous inscribed personal meaning. Hence, I also see the importance of trying to strike a balance in integrating both physical space & social space. This is indeed a tricky and difficult job, where even when urban designers did include going out to the actual sites itself and interviewing or observing people in their design process, the balance may still be hard to be implemented where one aspect usually gets sacrificed in the process. Unfortunately for me, I do not much knowledge of how sidewalks are like in other parts of the world since I’ve only been only able to travel to Malaysia in my life, I found myself mostly thinking about those that can be found in Singapore. It also got me thinking that aside from just sidewalks, there are also many other ordinary and overlooked places that are equally filled with much importance such as corridors, void decks, alleys, and many more. Void decks for an example is a place in Singapore where I especially feel that many uncountable personal meanings from all age groups, the pioneer generation to the younger generations, are being inscribed but often being overlooked.


Question 1. How do we know when we have collected sufficient data in the process of designing?

Question 2. When one aspect has no choice but needs to be sacrificed, be it the physical or social, how do one choose which to forgo?

After reading the first chapter of this book by Donald Norman, I found myself unconsciously agreeing to many of the examples and concepts that he mentioned while reading. From the “norman doors” to the sink and watch example. The example of the watch is a rather significant example to me, as it is something I can deeply relate to since I’ve also went through a similar experience as to what he experienced. I remember finding it very frustrating and confusing to use as there a few number of buttons, furthermore the same buttons could have totally different functions from one another.

Donald Norman has mentioned many excellent key points that I agree that is crucial for a good design. First of all, discoverability and understanding. It is true that for simple everyday appliances there is no need for it to require the aid of manuals or personal instruction since in the first place, it was to be simple. In the current world, many of such simple objects are increasingly made to bombard users with too many functions and controls that defy their understanding. It is precisely why it makes the product so confusing and causes users to forgo many of the unnecessarily functions that are there where the whole purpose of design is lost.

It is important to keep in mind, products need to be designed keeping in mind the quality of interaction and not just the aesthetics of the form. To achieve that, the understanding of who your product is targeted at is of upmost importance. After all, they are the reasons for making this product. We also have to understand and accept that not everyone thinks the same way since human behaviors is complex and we cannot just impose our own thinking on others. Adding on to his views, I also felt that patience, perseverance and time is plays a big role too. To understand does not happen over night or the span of one or two days. It requires time to truly understand user’s needs and abilities and in between failures are bound to happen. However, we should not let failures stop us but instead turn it into our fuel to reach our final destinations.

Human-centered design (HCD) is a good solution for bad design where a high emphasize is placed on communication. In his book, Donald Norman mentioned five psychological concepts – affordances, signifiers, constraints, mappings and feedback – plus the need for conceptual model of the system to achieve discoverability and understanding. I really learnt a lot from this few pointers and realized that without meeting any one of it, the design is bound to fail in some way. There is a need for all of the above pointers to work together and not just achieving it individually. Similarly, to meet the design challenge, it requires the cooperation of multiple disciplines. Everything must work together to achieve a good design that would provide users with a good experience.


Question 1: Does all products that is aesthetically pleasing but not functionally equates to a bad design?

Question 2: How do we design for something yet ensure everything works hand in hand properly when we are faced with extremely limited time or deadlines?

The first key point that jumped out at me was the term, rapid cultural calibration. It was defined to not only put yourself in the local’s mindset but also to put the local phenomena into global perspectives, both implicitly and explicitly. There are many ways to carry out rapid cultural calibration and it doesn’t necessarily have to be carried out for a long periods of time. It is also interesting how he states that the optimum time to observe a city is around the crack of dawn and the hours that follow since the start of the day tends to be more consistent and more regimented than a day’s end.

This is interesting as I personally did undergo observations for a project, both during the earlier hours and during the much later hours of a day. I did notice that at a day’s start, it was indeed much more consistent such as usual vendors busily setting up their stalls before customers come, to the elderly doing their morning exercise like “tai chi”, to the gradual increase of people from all age groups rushing to work or school as time passes.

I agree that everything in a particular environment, no matter now big or small is crucial in piecing the big picture together. Also, it is not just what we see visually that we have to take in but also to be immersed with our other senses – smell, sounds, touch, tastes. I also note how it is important to strike a balance so that one is not overstimulated. He also stated there has to be a need to find the right balance between the formal and informal data collection, and having the right mental and physical space to process it, to set apart good design research and a great design research. Personally, I find that finding the balance is difficult and it might be helpful to take a step back to first figure out and truly understanding about oneself before embarking on the research journey.


Question 1: To understand the people with disabilities, instead of just observing them or interviewing, would it be more helpful to literally role-play living like them in their environment?

Question 2: In the case if the locals have been living the wrong way and we decide to design something that guides them towards the right or better way, but they are adamant to change. Is this still counted as bad design and not understanding the consumers if it is to change something for the better when they do not want to but need to?