Category Archives: 2016 User Experience in Design

Digital Penpal: Interview Questions

Off-point Interview Questions

  1. Which of the messaging applications: Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, Telegram, and Snapchat, do you like the best?
  2. Why do you use social media?
  3. What is one best feature of the mentioned application that you found helpful in making connections and conversation with others?
  4. What does it allow you to do differently?
  5. If you have tried social dating apps like OkCupid and Tinder: How often do you chat with your matches?
  6. Do you enjoy chatting to people through these applications?
  7. What about social dating app attract you to use them? (Sense of thrill, Curiosity, Trend following, Seriously looking, Networking, etc.)
  8. What puts you in a dilemma when using these applications to connect? (Safety, Privacy, Online Identity, Time Consuming, Blue ticks, Awkward situations, Differences between matches, Your match is a freak, etc.)
  9. What do you do on your own to mitigate those situations?
  10. How successful do you think social apps are capable of conveying full messages including tone of voice, clarity, and quality of conversations?
  11. How do you decide which strangers to match on social dating platforms? What are the issues that you face associated with the way you pick your matches?
  12. What are you looking for on social dating apps? (Genuine friendship, to kill boredom, new experiences, others)
  13. Why do you use social dating apps for your purpose mentioned in 12.?
  14. How successful do you think dating apps are in for you to identify the counterpart’s intentions? If very successful, what have the dating apps done right for you? If not successful, what do you think can be improved?
  15. What do you think the counterpart’s intention is most of the time? (Sex, Friendship, Looking for a Date.)
  16. Does that bother you if your intention is different? How will you proceed with that acquaintance when you know the intentions are different?
  17. If there is an application that is able to address your concerns and the problems you are facing with building genuine connections on social media platforms, how likely do you think you will use it?
  18. What do you value most in conversations?
  19. What other features do you think will make social connections more interesting?


WEEK 9: Idea Refinement

Idea One: From Microblog to Blog – A Seamless Story

Observation: Many platforms for microblogging for different types of social media. Why do people microblog?

Storytelling is a challenge with most social networks because of their very short content formats, making it difficult to “Tell a Story” with 1 photo and a few characters.

Approaching microblogging in a different way: How many social media-related phone applications do people keep on their smartphones? Most would have Youtube, Facebook, Instagram since these are the free applications that have achieved more than 1 billion downloads. How do people feel about fragmenting their information across various social media platforms? How can I create one seamless story?

(Questions: What are the social media apps that you use? How do you keep note of your social media footprint? How do you use social media, including messaging applications?)

Interviews Person A:  Uses Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, FB Messenger, Bleep, Boomerang, and Wire. Finds that it is cumbersome to keep note of his social media footprint, especially for confidential information. Has a preference to be able to time bomb messages for confidential info at work, and that is a means to remember.


Microblogging Platforms



Idea Twoux-week-78-012

There are several POV to this issue of rewarding people by using fun as a motivation. What a person defines as fun will be difficult to measure against what others define as fun.


Idea Three


Observation: It is getting harder to find a canteen stall with completely clean cutleries.

Problem: Hygiene issues, less peace of mind when picking cutleries, some hawker centers recognise that it is a problem, and solves the issue by dispensing disposable cutleries. Environmental issues as a result.What do users do when they meet with unhygienic eating conditions?

What do users do when they meet with unhygienic eating conditions?

Person A: Puts the dirty utensil on the table, and returns for a cleaner piece. If it remains dirty, wipe with a piece of tissue or opt for disposable utensils.

Person B: Brings own home utensils or disposable utensils.

Person C: From prior experience, if they know that the utensils for one place are dirty, they will opt to switch places to eat next time, or opt for takeaway so that there will be disposables to use.

Levels of experience with using dirty utensils:

Wipe the utensil > Pick another utensil > Return for a disposable one > Opt for takeaway > Change eateries next time

Proposed solutions:

  1. Screen based system for operators to track circulation of cutleries so that washing time can be moderated.
  2. Phone application to check for cleanliness of eateries so that diners can make an informed decision.


Part 1: Write a response to the exhibition “Future World”.  Keep in mind the following questions – What is experience design and what are the possibilities of responsive environments? How might this change the way we think about the world around us and the ways that we communicate with each other? 

The Future World Exhibition displayed user-centric installations and  is directed to educate and inspire viewers to impact their environment through play and exploration.

It emphasized on cultural differences in user experience. From Circulum Formosa  to the 100 Years Sea, the developers explored the differences in space perception through paintings of Western and Eastern origin. Although the differences require some attention to differentiate, it is insightful to understand why some visual design work better than others. Cultural specific problems begets culturally relvant solutions to produce user experience designs which speaks to the user. One-size-fits-all solutions to context-specific (cultural) designs may not have the same degree of impact. Placing these two projects at the start of the exhibition seems like an opening statement to the rest of the exhibition to me – to be part of the “picture” or the environment and experience, rather than be a viewer at the side.

Play, however, seems like a common language in many context when it comes to experience design. Most exhibited works at the Future World gravitate around learning through play. Playful activity inspires engagement. (Create! Hopskotch for Geniuses and Light Ball Orchestra)

User experience is a system of cause and effect.

Action > Result that might trigger another chain of actions > Feedback

Interactive media provides responsiveness through the immediate feedback it gives. Immediate feedback can assure us of the things we do, discourage, encourage, help us better understand information the environment is trying to convery to us, our actions on the people and places we go to, etc. Information can be subconsciously registered in our minds (refer to video shown to the class on Week 6), and excessive information may confuse, cause miscommunication and distress. (I remember something vaguely about the ripple lines on the ceiling of a home which reflects the amount of people in another location.) How easily does one person link up and interpret messages that the responsive environment is trying to convey? Designs may speak to somebody born and raised in natural environments, or they might mean completely different things. For someone born into the age where responsive environments are in prevalence, will they need a baseline to understand most things?

For reference: Responsive environments: a manual for designers by Sue McGlynn, Ian Bentley, Graham Smith (1985)

The design of a place affects the choices people can make, at many levels:

  • Permeability: where people can go and where they cannot.
  • Variety: the range of use available to people
  • Legibility: how easily people can understand what opportunities it offers
  • Robustness: the degree to which people can use a given place for different purposes.
  • Visual appropriateness: the detailed appearance of the place make people aware of the choices available.
  • Richness: people’s choice of sensory experiences
  • Personalization: the extent to which people can put their own stamp on a place.

Part 4, Reading: CH01_Digital_Age_Goodwin.pdf

The first chapter of the Digital Age by Goodwin focuses on defining design and goal-directed design. Goal-directed design allows designers to do what they do best by creating. The tools – (the 4Ps) Principles, Patterns, Processes, and Practices – helps ensure that the design effort is not in vain by making thought process transparent to the rest of the team (design, engineering, business).

Cooper's Goal-directed Design workflow
Cooper’s Goal-directed Design workflow

Some design offices are built with an open concept workspace to encourage interaction between departments and for meetings, and most use Skype, Slack, Whatsapp and other applications to facilitate communication at all times. Sometimes it may be difficult to manage in terms of decision making in the business, design, or engineering processes. Apart from keeping the core team and departments small, how can companies ensure that they are moving from department to department and within departments with as little friction as possible?

Are there any good metrics to decide whether a company is effective and productive in implementing goal-directed design? Eg. The amount of time spent on a project, the amount of idling time within each department, productivity etc. Every project’s brief is different and is subjected to manpower and other factors. Although different, it is important for metrics to understand if the design is worthy of or unworthy of the time before it is taken up.

Goal-directed design comes with higher risk of diving into depth more quickly rather than the breadth of any project. How can companies ensure that they are on-point and making the best decisions within their context? Sometimes when ideas get stuck, there is a need to take a step back.


Part 2: Start to work on final project proposals – prepare three ideas for a screen-based experience that you’d like to create (it can be speculative). Prepare a slide show to illustrate your ideas. The ideas can be based on any of the field trips done so far or can be something completely new.

Part 3: Find 3 examples of a product/project that you think are good examples of thoughtfully designed user experience. Be prepared to support your choices.

Week 6 Reading Reflections: Lowgren

The writer of the article introduces the ideas and processes of designing digital artefacts. He explains the differences between designing for digital artefacts (with interactive design) and normal products, on the natural basis of it, being a spatial and temporal medium. He explored ideas on what makes a good design for digital artefacts.

Design is a process of solving problems, which is an interplay of the designer,  the resources, and the situation. However, there are instances when either of the elements changes and affects the process to bring it to a different direction. When do we know how to stop and approach the problem from another perspective?

Also,  (mentioned in Chapter 1.7) What kind of questions can a designer ask to know that his or her understanding of a problem’s essence and character is valid?

Week 6 Assignment

Over a two-day period, do the following:
DAY 1 – create a diary of when, why and what you use your mobile device for. Observe how others are using their mobile devices. What are the most common uses and where do you see these behaviors?

Day in NTU

AM 6.45: My mobile phone woke me up with the sounds of my favourite ringtone, I kept it quiet for another 10 minutes. Woken up from my slumber, I picked my phone lying right next to me and brought it to the bathroom, and proceeded to play Spotify’s Wake Up playlist while I prepare myself for the day.

AM 7.30: The alarm rings again to tell me that I should be leaving the house.

AM 8: I peeped over the shoulders of others using their phones while I prepared myself for presentation with the Notes in my phone.  They were: scrolling through articles, reading social media updates. Most had their headphones plugged in. In all honesty, the sight of people “plugged into” the worlds within the tiny screen looks frightening to me. I was guilty of being one of them. However, I made no notice of that.

AM 8.30: I got a seat after transiting trains, finally, this time, the train direction is towards the suburban areas. Whipping out my laptop, I read some files which were too large to fit into my phone and then proceeded to edit them. Engrossed in my work, I glanced up to notice that most middle-aged men and women were looking out of the windows. Perhaps on my earlier train ride on the northeast line, people were drawn to use their phones because there was no engaging window view. Some were catching Pokémon.

AM 9.30 I touched my phone to receive updates from my messages. When I did so I zoned out into my own world. Guilty of distraction.

PM 12 Brought my phone out for lunch. When I am engaged in talks, I glance occasionally glance at the updates. But  do not reply them.

PM 3 I thought I replied the messages I have received. But I didn’t. So I replied all of them.

PM 4 I used my phone and laptop to buy equipment online from the US and SG warehouses. Mobile phone to contact the suppliers for immediate information, and it was done within 10 minutes.

PM 5 Proceeded with my friend to town to get other materials for a freelance job. Used my phone to check for opening hours of the shop I intended to go to. At the shop, I sent pictures of items to my friends so as to allow them to see and know what I am purchasing.

PM 8 Going home alone, I gave myself into Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Dayre, Spotify, Soundcloud, and online shopping for an outfit for an event.

PM 9 onward: I almost do not touch my phone for other purposes other than to chat with my friends on Whatsapp and FBM. My staple device at home is my laptop. I spend most of my productive hours using my laptop for school assignments and projects, and an occasional dose of video streaming on and

My mobile devices maximise my productivity. I’m rarely satisfied and constantly crave for more information, I feel distracted. When I felt unmotivated, I look for connection and fresh information to stimulate my mind. Mobile technology provides me with the internet almost all the time to source for information anytime at almost anywhere.

I felt that it is difficult to gauge the most common uses by others because of the habits – I would categorise them into Communication, and Entertainment. I think that people around me use social media on a higher frequency than myself, like when they are waiting for someone, using the washroom, etc. Mostly while waiting, travelling. Like the article by Jan Chipchase, most would gravitate to the search button when they are looking for information that they need in order to be productive at work or school.



DAY 2 – Do not use your phone, computer or electronic device for 24 hours. Create a diary documenting and describing the difference in your behavior patterns. How did you do the things you would normally do with your phone? What other alternative behaviors did you develop? What else did you notice about the difference in behavior?

Sunday 18 September 2016

10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

To set this day aside for the experiment required much planning and “priming”. The week prior to the set date, many questions came to my mind: How should I spend this day? The natural thing to do would be to plan a day at home, or a trip alone, because of the hassle of meeting someone from another location. I wanted a challenge to do that, hence I planned a day out with a friend who gracefully accepted the challenge and introduced another element of fun – whoever uses the phone first would owe the other a scoop of ice cream at the end of the day. We picked a place that was difficult to navigate, without much care about the consequences (oh no, to preempt this it did not end up well, my good idea to conduct the experiment on this day.) I thought about the what-ifs as well: What if I couldn’t find the coffee place we intended to go to, what if my friend is late and could not let me know because we could not use our mobile devices. Should we limit the interaction we have on that day to people who do not need to use mobile devices as well?

The night before the meeting I checked the directions for the place I was going – Les Patisserie at Upper Thomson Road. I contemplated printing the map out. It was a hassle hence I decided to rely on memory and my below average sense of direction because it is only my third time going to the place.


AM 10

The next morning on my journey, it was awkward not to use my phone on public transport. Perhaps, by telling you my chain of thoughts on my journey in the next paragraph it could reveal so much more than I noticed: Firstly, I am quite the scatterbrain with my random thoughts, ideas, and questions, which I fulfilled on other days by recording it in the Notes App, and searching it up on Google. (I calculated the number of times I gravitated to the search bar on the day – at least 15!)  Secondly, the mobile phone felt like an extension of my body. It almost felt like an extension of my body language, and I felt awkward when waiting for transport. What do I do with my hands?

My chain of thoughts: Perhaps I should people watch. Am I staring too much? Perhaps I should look at the floor. What are people thinking of when they stop using their phones? Perhaps I should stand closer to the digital announcement board in the train station. My arms are hanging awkwardly at my sides, I will fold them – wait a minute, that body language is not great – how to I behave normally??

(Upon arrival) I have to double check on the route to Upper Thomson Road and memorize it. Unsure of the way to read maps without a compass, I memorized the relative direction to landmarks. At a junction I asked for directions with a planned excuse so as to not raise eyebrows – my phone ran out of battery power. 

There lies the second challenge. How do I locate my friend? How do I know if somebody has overslept? What if, I have to wait for hours and waste a day in a place like this?!

I had trouble locating the cafe because I did not know how it looked like. I searched for signs but there were none around the row of shophouses, and some shop houses do not display their unit numbers. Somewhere along the way people have taken our access to mobile technology for granted that locations do not design themselves to be navigated WITHOUT mobile phones. It will be great to go to a place which is easy to navigate without mobile devices – that will leave some space in my mind to experience the journey.

For safety reasons and emergencies I brought my mobile phone. I received a call at 11.30PM from my friend, telling me that she has overslept. I sat at a coffee junction to people-watch and pass time for about half an hour while waiting for my friend to reach.


PM 12.30

Without the distraction of mobile phones, conversations can be more engaging than usual. I realised that mobile phones are really important visualising tools in a conversation. (For fun’s sake, we repeatedly tricked each other into using the mobile phones placed within line of sight.) If we could use our phones, we would: Facebook stalk the people we are chatting about, find photo references for the things we talk about to make sure that we are on the par with each other, find new topics to make interesting conversations, find places of interest for our next stop, to check on our appearances (for people with braces, to check whether we get food stuck in our teeth with the camera app).

To make up for the loss of visual aid, we – describe our friends’ appearances in detail, list out mutual friends, explain things in detail, instead of saying “you will know why I said this when you see it”. walk aimlessly sometimes, and took long cuts instead of shortcuts while wayfinding.

Occasionally we caught ourselves pushing the home screen of our mobile phones to check on the time when conversations are getting less interesting. Although we were wearing watches. (Score 2:1) So we kept it away.

Aimlessly walking, we found an alley we wanted to explore. I kept it on my mind as a mental picture. I thought about how good it would look on Instagram with filters. What if Instagram and filters do not exist? What I see would be what I get.

Having a time-out from technology gives me a short window to collect my thoughts and feelings at the end of the day. Mobile technology has become a very important part of a conversation to make things interesting (which is something I did not expect at all).


PM 5.30

Dinner time. Instead of looking for food promos online, I looked at stands in detail.


PM 6.30

Movie time. I had to talk to Suntec’s Cathay to book tickets instead of buying it online.

PM 11.30 

Not knowing what time the last train leaves the station, I rushed to the station to find that it has not left. I was exhausted from walking more than usual, and fell asleep on the train home.

Week 5 Assignment

Part I: Reading Reflections

In this reading, Jan Chipchase established a common ground that people are evolving with the digital age and analyzed the reasons  why what we carry has changed over time. He ended the write up with the big idea that our tools and our ideas of survival are constantly evolving. Its is great that tools are evolving – they give us a reason to carry less, to shorten the hassle of packing, a shorter list of things to bring in our pocket and a freer mind. The big question he has ended with was “How do we create tools that really matter?”

Why do we carry what we carry? If I were to take a trip exploring, and had only three items to choose from in my current handbag to bring with me, I would bring my keys, my mobile phone, and a PayPass card, because I would need my keys to exit the house, my PayPass/ATM card so that I do not have to keep changes, and my phone, to keep me occupied and connected, to people and space (through google maps). If I were allowed 4 items, I will love to have a mobile phone power plug. I mean. I will love to know that I can be connected for an infinite amount of time.

The tools we create now have to adhere to a huge set of requirements to allow us to fully utilize our resources. Time is an important resource, hence our ubiquitous devices and almost seamless digital networks allow us to retrieve information faster, at any time and anywhere. It creates the actual value of working faster in order for us to reduce waiting time. The author mentioned that apart from reducing load, we can reduce the risk of losing things, and the cost of replacing things. To allow people to use more while owning less. Digitised information and the internet platform reduces the need to physically carry anything more than a device to retrieve data. But I think many would disagree that this is the way to go – because digitising our information puts us less in control of the data we need and rely on. A mistake made in coding could delete our information at worst case scenario. For example this year, a man named Marco Marsala accidentally deleted his entire company managing more than a thousand clients by a single line of code called “rm -rf”. The basic code will delete everything it is told to. The “rm” tells the computer to remove; the r deletes everything within a given directory; and the f stands for “force”, telling the computer to ignore the usual warnings that come when deleting files. The mistake is simple, and the coder now knows what is wrong, yet it is not in anyone’s power to retrieve data.

I am not sure but I felt that this was similar to the author’s experience with losing his iPhone in a cab – a sense of losing a portion of the connection. He was frustrated not because of losing the phone but the fact that he knows through live data that the phone is around him, but out of his reach. If we rely on data clouds we do not own, it is pretty ironical that we feel a sense of loss at something that is not really ours.

Question: How do we mitigate the sense of loss over things that we think are ours, but actually have no proper control of?

Perhaps I am thinking too grimly. But another point I want to make about “We are what we upload” is – Google’s algorithms feeds us information which is most related to our searches, or contents of our emails etc, much like the example on Amazon mentioned by the author. So when we type in a search word, only a subset of all related things to it on the world wide web will appear to our screens. It is as though a person is placed in the same box and have to breathe in and out the same air which has gone through his or her lungs many times before – information becomes stale, and boring to the user alone. The saying goes that we are what we consume – the same type of information that is fed to us may limit ideas and creativity, and maybe limit the way that people identify themselves.

Question: What kind of tools matter more to us – controlled information or freedom to all information?

Part II

  1. Based on the lecture on Place, Location, and Ubiquitous technology, post an example of a product, service or design concept and post it on OSS.
  2. Look at the examples for part 2 posted by classmates and write a comment, response or question to their post.

Concept: Tactical Sound Garden (2012)

Project Website

User Experience Week 3 Assignment

Part 1 : 

Think of a way in which you could develop an experimental map using images, sounds and stories. Some ideas… What else would we use if we didn’t use maps to find our sense of place? How would you map the sounds you hear every day? How would you map emotions? How would you map the overlooked peoples or places of Singapore?

Maps show a process to getting somewhere, and the process takes up most of the map rather than the actual destination. I would describe my experimental map as the abstract/foreword to a storybook, the header, and footer to every page that instantly reminds me of my destination, and the page number of every page which tells me whether I am nearer or farther from the ending. Visual cues such as advertisements or signboards displayed on digital billboards or hung and pasted on walls, etc can ascend in its intensity as I move closer and closer to the intended, whlist at the same time, giving me the strong sense that I am in the right place.


Greenwich Emotional Map

The purpose of the navigation process decides what ways to use to develop an experimental map of a given location, and that is subjective to individuals as to what they want to see/hear/feel. It is a personal experience, and perhaps if there is a common unit which expresses a collection of feelings, such as through bio-mapping, which visualizes people’s reactions to the external world. (



Part 2

Annette Kim’s Chapter 1: Seen and Unseen, Ho Chi Minh’s Sidewalk Life provided detailed explanation with which backed up the author’s observations. By cross-referencing and questioning the American ideas behind street planning with the context of the Asian, the differences that surfaced appeared to be stemming from the simplest relationships between social groups, between the multiple groups of people using the space and the decision makers who decide what to do with the space. In my opinion, is intriguing that the power lies with those who strongly define the characteristics of the public space, for example, HCMC’s street vendors, who depended on their street vendor lifestyle as a source of livelihood, and that their appearance is a hallmark of the Vietnamese culture. It reaffirms that urban planning for is a social construct.

In my opinion, is intriguing that the power lies with those who strongly define the characteristics of the public space, for example, HCMC’s street vendors, who depended on their street vendor lifestyle as a source of livelihood, and their street vendor practice is a hallmark of the Vietnamese culture. The author stated that urban planning is a social construct (and a physical construct). Question 1: If people of HCMC are relocated to a fresh space, is it likely that the fresh space will remain similar to the current status quo?(Can we say that the social construct to urban space allocation is as strong as the relationship between human behavior and the DNA?)

It is difficult for a person alone to understand all the perspectives when it comes to urban land planning, but to let the ecosystem speaks for itself. I found Tom Hulme’s speech (I have posted a link below), on how we can build a product that people, inspiring. Based on my understanding of the article, I felt that Hulme’s example of a particular university that built no pathways and paved the bared land trekked out by the users of the school compound demonstrated empathy to its inhabitants. Although the context is vastly different, what was insightful was the approach to let people interact with space themselves and observe to find out what works best.