Design thinking refers to the strategies and methodologies designers use while working on a design project. Our focus this semester is to design a travel and accessibility application for, as Norman says, 'Special People'.
In my opinion, this project calls for the use of Human Centred Design. Our goal is to make sure that the design of our product fits the desires, needs and capabilities of disabled people. There are added constraints and limitations to what disabled people can or cannot do, therefore our final product needs to be usable, understandable as well as positive and enjoyable in terms of the experience while using it.
From what I learned in this chapter, an HCD process follows a spiral method:
Observing the people in real life situations, defining the problems and constraints and empathising with them. Ideating- throwing in thousands of ideas that can nurture your design for the problems observed. Prototyping and making sure that your idea is actually feasible in the real world. Testing it out on the people we're designing for because the goal is to make a product for the people and not people for a product. And finally coming with a workable, desirable, sustainable solution- a product that can fulfil the needs of our target audience.
Using this method would help us to provide a very detail oriented product. During our visit to Inglis last week, we had the opportunity to observe a few disabled people interacting with interfaces in their own special way. The most interesting part of the design of these interfaces was that they were made to occupy the needs of each patient and not to make the patient occupy the needs of the product.
For example, a patient with multiple sclerosis was not forced to adjust and use a normal keyboard while using the computer. His needs were duly noted and thus he was provided with an adapted keyboard- one that offers more accessibility for the patient and a lesser chance to make mistakes while typing. Furthermore, the keyboards were also provided in primary and/or high contrast colours to ease the visual impairment. I recently read an article about the same which states- the best keyboard is a keyboard that every single person can enjoy. I feel that is exactly what Norman also tried teaching in this chapter, adopting Universal Design.
A key component of our design should be flexibility. By this, I not only mean a flexible product but also a flexible thinking, a willingness to alter, iterate and change our design path as and when we stumble upon more possible solutions. I went beyond the chapter and watched a TED talk on designing for disability. It stated that while designing we stumble upon so many possible solutions that are way better than what we first started with. I feel this is what we would aim at achieving through an HCD. User testing would be one of the major factors in helping us come up with better solutions.
Norman states that Universal/Inclusive design includes making a larger lettering, adjustable features, flexible size of images and so on. An example of portraying universal design in this project would be by providing adjustable and accessible features such as picture boards for communication in order to make the app more interactive than content oriented and accessible features such as SOS in case of emergencies.
'Complexity is good but confusion is undesirable'- this is what we need to remember. With the number of possible solutions, innovative ideas and detailed research, our end product would be a complex one but definitely confusion free and 100% accessible to our users.