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Idea Generation Through Empathy: Reimagining the "Cognitive Walkthrough"

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Engineering and design students are often required to evaluate their products against user requirements, but frequently, these requirements are abstracted from the user or context of use rather than coming from actual user and context data. Abstraction of user requirements makes it difficult for students to empathize with the eventual user of the product or system they are designing. In previous research, Design Heuristics have been shown to encourage exploration of design solutions spaces at the initial stages of design processes. This study combines use of Design Heuristics in an engineering classroom context with a method designed to connect students with an understanding the context of the user, product use setting, and sociocultural milieu. We adapted an existing method, the cognitive walkthrough, for use in an engineering education context, renaming it the empathic walkthrough. In this study, this method was revised and extended to maximize empathy with the end user and context, using these insights to promote a more situated form of idea development using the Design Heuristics cards. We present several case studies of students using this method to expand their notion of situated use, demonstrating how this method may have utility for importation into engineering contexts. Our early testing has indicated that this method stimulates empathy on the part of the student for the design context within which they are working, resulting in a richer narrative that foregrounds problems that a user might encounter.

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Idea Generation Through Empathy: Reimagining the "Cognitive Walkthrough"

  1. 1. COLIN M. GRAY 1 , SEDA YILMAZ 1 , SHANNA R. DALY 2 , 
 COLLEEN M. SEIFERT 2 , & RICHARD GONZALEZ 2 1 Iowa State University; 2 University of Michigan IDEA GENERATION THROUGH EMPATHY REIMAGINING THE “COGNITIVE WALKTHROUGH”
  2. 2. TECHNICAL COMPETENCIES + HUMAN-CENTERED COMPETENCIES
  3. 3. HUMAN-CENTERED COMPETENCIES [Zowghi & Paryani, 2003; Mohedas et al., 2014; Lande & Leifer, 2010; Walther et al., 2012; Strobel et al., 2013] limited examples of methods to systematically encourage the development of empathy
  4. 4. EMPATHY
  5. 5. the cognitive knowing of what another person is feeling the emotional feeling what another individual is feeling the act of responding to another’s experience with compassion [Levenson and Ruef, 1992; Walther et al. 2012] EMPATHY
  6. 6. COGNITIVE WALKTHROUGH CHI 2000 • 1-6 APRIL 2000 Papers 1. Define inputs to the walkthrough a. Identification of users b. Sample tasks for evaluation c. Action sequences for completing the tasks d. Description or implementation of interface 2. Convene the walkthrough a. Describe the goals of the walkthrough b. Describe what will be done during the CW c. Describe what will not be done during the walkthrough d. Explicitly defuse defensiveness e. Post ground rules in a visible place f. Assign roles g. Appeal for submission to leadership 3. Walkthrough the action sequences for each task a. Tell a credible story for these two questions: - Will the user know what to do at this step? - If the user does the right thing, will they know that they did the right thing, and are making progress towards their goal? b. Maintain control of the CW, enforce the ground rules 4. Record critical information a. Possible learnability problems b. Design ideas c. Design gaps d. Problems in the Task Analysis 5. Revise the interface to fix the problems DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE STREAMLINED WALKTHROUGH PROCEDURE 1. Define inputs to walkthrough Before the CW session, the usability professional is responsible for defining the important user task scenario or scenarios and producing a task analysis of those scenarios by explicating the action sequences necessary for accomplishing the tasks in the scenarios. Wharton et al. should be used as a resource for determining how to decide on the scenarios and how to describe the task sequence. 2. Convene the walkthrough The first step is to describe the goals of performing the walkthrough. Namely, the walkthrough is an opportunity to evaluate the user interface in terms of learnability. This is the first opportunity to address SC 3 - Design defensiveness, by defusing defensiveness on the part of any team members. It is important that the usability professional points out that learnability is only one aspect of usability, and that the team recognizes that learnability may have been traded off for other aspects of usability. Nonetheless, there is inherent value in knowing when users may encounter problems learning an interface as the issue could be explicitly addressed elsewhere, for example, though marketing or the help system. A CW session is analytical in nature, and therefore lacks the definitiveness of an empirical usability tests. In light of the CW method's tentative nature, specification owners may resent absolute proclamations that "this is a problem". The usability specialist should, therefore, take care to use softer language, like "this is a potential problem, we need to think about it". Constant reference to the tentative nature of the finding should help defuse defensiveness. The usability professional then points out for the first time that the CW is an evaluation session, not a design session, and goes on to describe the process of walking through the task sequence and answering the two questions for each step (See table 4). The usability professional then gives an example of an action sequence from software not currently under consideration and that has plausible answers to the two questions, and the team is encouraged to produce those answers. Then the usability professional gives another example, one without plausible answers, and the team is prompted to try to provide answers. For each example, the usability professional should model the format that the data is captured in before proceeding with preparing the team for the CW. Table 4 2 questions from the streamlined CW 1. Will the user know what to do at this step? 2. If the user does the right thing, will they know that they did the right thing, and are making progress towards their goal? After describing what the team will do during the walkthrough, describe what the team will not do during the walkthrough. This is the first opportunity to directly address SC 2 - Lengthy design discussions, and indirectly address SC 3 - Design defensiveness. In particular, the usability professional explains that if the team finds a step with possible learnability issues, they will note the possible problem and move on to the next step, but they won't redesign the interface. Furthermore, the usability professional should explain that if the team encounters a gap in the design (for example when it is not clear from the specification what action sequence the user is supposed to perform), the team will note the gap and move on, but they won't stop and design the missing actions. Also, if a design idea is suggested, the team may briefly discuss the design idea, note it, and then move on, but the team will not flesh it out. Lastly, if the task analysis appears to be faulty, or only describes one of multiple possible paths towards achieving 355 [Spencer, 2000 from Wharton et al., 1994]
  7. 7. COGNITIVE WALKTHROUGH CHI 2000 • 1-6 APRIL 2000 Papers 1. Define inputs to the walkthrough a. Identification of users b. Sample tasks for evaluation c. Action sequences for completing the tasks d. Description or implementation of interface 2. Convene the walkthrough a. Describe the goals of the walkthrough b. Describe what will be done during the CW c. Describe what will not be done during the walkthrough d. Explicitly defuse defensiveness e. Post ground rules in a visible place f. Assign roles g. Appeal for submission to leadership 3. Walkthrough the action sequences for each task a. Tell a credible story for these two questions: - Will the user know what to do at this step? - If the user does the right thing, will they know that they did the right thing, and are making progress towards their goal? b. Maintain control of the CW, enforce the ground rules 4. Record critical information a. Possible learnability problems b. Design ideas c. Design gaps d. Problems in the Task Analysis 5. Revise the interface to fix the problems DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE STREAMLINED WALKTHROUGH PROCEDURE 1. Define inputs to walkthrough Before the CW session, the usability professional is responsible for defining the important user task scenario or scenarios and producing a task analysis of those scenarios by explicating the action sequences necessary for accomplishing the tasks in the scenarios. Wharton et al. should be used as a resource for determining how to decide on the scenarios and how to describe the task sequence. 2. Convene the walkthrough The first step is to describe the goals of performing the walkthrough. Namely, the walkthrough is an opportunity to evaluate the user interface in terms of learnability. This is the first opportunity to address SC 3 - Design defensiveness, by defusing defensiveness on the part of any team members. It is important that the usability professional points out that learnability is only one aspect of usability, and that the team recognizes that learnability may have been traded off for other aspects of usability. Nonetheless, there is inherent value in knowing when users may encounter problems learning an interface as the issue could be explicitly addressed elsewhere, for example, though marketing or the help system. A CW session is analytical in nature, and therefore lacks the definitiveness of an empirical usability tests. In light of the CW method's tentative nature, specification owners may resent absolute proclamations that "this is a problem". The usability specialist should, therefore, take care to use softer language, like "this is a potential problem, we need to think about it". Constant reference to the tentative nature of the finding should help defuse defensiveness. The usability professional then points out for the first time that the CW is an evaluation session, not a design session, and goes on to describe the process of walking through the task sequence and answering the two questions for each step (See table 4). The usability professional then gives an example of an action sequence from software not currently under consideration and that has plausible answers to the two questions, and the team is encouraged to produce those answers. Then the usability professional gives another example, one without plausible answers, and the team is prompted to try to provide answers. For each example, the usability professional should model the format that the data is captured in before proceeding with preparing the team for the CW. Table 4 2 questions from the streamlined CW 1. Will the user know what to do at this step? 2. If the user does the right thing, will they know that they did the right thing, and are making progress towards their goal? After describing what the team will do during the walkthrough, describe what the team will not do during the walkthrough. This is the first opportunity to directly address SC 2 - Lengthy design discussions, and indirectly address SC 3 - Design defensiveness. In particular, the usability professional explains that if the team finds a step with possible learnability issues, they will note the possible problem and move on to the next step, but they won't redesign the interface. Furthermore, the usability professional should explain that if the team encounters a gap in the design (for example when it is not clear from the specification what action sequence the user is supposed to perform), the team will note the gap and move on, but they won't stop and design the missing actions. Also, if a design idea is suggested, the team may briefly discuss the design idea, note it, and then move on, but the team will not flesh it out. Lastly, if the task analysis appears to be faulty, or only describes one of multiple possible paths towards achieving 355 [Spencer, 2000 from Wharton et al., 1994] 1. Define inputs to the walkthrough 2. Convene the walkthrough 3. Walkthrough the action sequences for each task 4. Record critical information 5. Revise the interface to fix the problems
  8. 8. DESIGN HEURISTICS
  9. 9. DESIGN HEURISTICS • Provide prompts to help designers generate alternatives that vary in nature, discouraging fixation and encouraging divergent patterns of thinking [Yilmaz, Daly, Seifert, & Gonzalez, 2011; Yilmaz, Seifert, & Gonzalez, 2010] • Derived from empirical evidence of industrial and engineering designs [Daly et al., 2012; Yilmaz, Christian, Daly, Seifert, & Gonzalez, 2012; Yilmaz & Seifert, 2010] • Validated through a range of product analysis, case studies, and protocol analyses, in both educational and professional contexts [e.g., Yilmaz & Seifert, 2009; Yilmaz et al., 2011; Yilmaz et al., 2010; Yilmaz et al., 2013; Yilmaz, Daly, Christian, Seifert, & Gonzalez, 2014]
  10. 10. Property Definition Design Heuristics cards Form Form of the product #32: Expand or collapse #38: Impose hierarchy on functions #55: Repurpose packaging Function Functions embedded in the product #5: Adjust function through movement #16: Bend #50: Provide sensory feedback Temporal Use/function of the product over time Relation to sociocultural environment #13: Apply existing mechanism in new way #21: Change product lifetime #46: Mimic natural mechanisms Use/User Situated use of the product User interactions with the product #9: Allow user to customize #10: Allow user to rearrange #40: Incorporate user input System Context in which the product is used Systems/services the product relies on #24: Contextualize #28: Create service #29: Create system HEURISTICS BY CATEGORY
  11. 11. EMPATHIC WALKTHROUGH 5-10 MINUTES PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY 5 MINUTES LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System 10 MINUTES TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012
  12. 12. EMPATHIC
 WALKTHROUGH 1 Define inputs to the walkthrough Identification of users, problem definition, and concept sketch 2 Convene the walkthrough Paired students 3 Walkthrough the 
 action sequences 
 for each task Role-play or “talk through” each other’s concept with a user story 4 Record critical information Record parts of the design that are confusing or strange, that don’t appear to work correctly, or otherwise seem inappropriate for the user 5 Revise the interface 
 to fix the problems Generate alternatives or additional concepts that address user concerns
  13. 13. Dyad Classification Concept Initiator Initial Concept 
 (Target Population) # Generated Concepts # Concepts using Design Heuristics Industrial Design Junior P1 Herb garden in fridge 
 (millennial) 8 (P1=5; P2=3) 8 P2 Mechanical Engineering Sophomore P3 Hand-cranked generator 
 (rural India) 11 (P3=6; P4=5) 5 P4 Latrine shovel/toilet
 (nomadic areas of South Africa) 10 (P3=3; P4=7) 2 Mechanical/ Aeronautical Engineering Graduate P5 Latching galley curtain
 (flight attendant) 9 (P5=3; P6=6) 2 P6 Rubber stopper to reduce galley curtain noise
 (flight attendant) 6 (P5=2; P6=4) 2 Industrial Design Graduate P7 Silly Putty as fire starter
 (20s male survivalist) 9 (P7=4; P8=5) 1 P8 Tetley tea “lilypods”
 (college-aged girl) 14 (P7=6; P8=8) 2
  14. 14. Dyad Classification Concept Initiator Initial Concept 
 (Target Population) # Generated Concepts # Concepts using Design Heuristics Industrial Design Junior P1 Herb garden in fridge 
 (millennial) 8 (P1=5; P2=3) 8 P2 Mechanical Engineering Sophomore P3 Hand-cranked generator 
 (rural India) 11 (P3=6; P4=5) 5 P4 Latrine shovel/toilet
 (nomadic areas of South Africa) 10 (P3=3; P4=7) 2 Mechanical/ Aeronautical Engineering Graduate P5 Latching galley curtain
 (flight attendant) 9 (P5=3; P6=6) 2 P6 Rubber stopper to reduce galley curtain noise
 (flight attendant) 6 (P5=2; P6=4) 2 Industrial Design Graduate P7 Silly Putty as fire starter
 (20s male survivalist) 9 (P7=4; P8=5) 1 P8 Tetley tea “lilypods”
 (college-aged girl) 14 (P7=6; P8=8) 2
  15. 15. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 CASE BUILDING A FLIGHT 
 ATTENDANT-FRIENDLY 
 AIRLINE CURTAIN
  16. 16. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012
  17. 17. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 “After entering the airplane, the catering is already done. So—hopefully the curtain is stored away so I can pass through the area, you know 20 to 50 times as the passengers are starting to boarding. And I have to look through to my other flight attendants that are working in other areas on the aircraft; we are talking huge distances like a few yards.”
  18. 18. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 “After having takeoff, I would really appreciate to have my privacy during working inside the galley, preparing food; the new galley design gives me the opportunity—there are not so many passengers hanging around where I am working, because it is more separated than before. Furthermore, the two—the Lycra curtain which were introduced now offers us the opportunity to reduce the noise incredibly.”
  19. 19. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 “On the other hand, there are a few like—I don’t like that I always have to pass two curtains to get to the galley. Just imagine how often I have to pass through—50 times a day —I guess even more per flight. And especially with the damn cart [steering with hands]—it’s always stuck as a car, and it’s not really fixed, so even with the magnetic fixation, it’s—it doesn’t offer me the flexibility that I would really like to have.”
  20. 20. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 “Well, different part which is bad on the new curtain—it separates you for the passenger area from the area where you are working. And the plane doesn’t have ECS outcomes… so that means as we have chiller in our area, our area gets colder and colder, and it’s freezing cold so it’s around 40. And the work environment is getting worse and worse, even if it’s not as loud. Maybe more secure.”
  21. 21. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Form Function Use/User System Would a transparent curtain help w/ not knowing what’s happening Is the curtain staying closed easily? Did the more open environment help keep the cold air dispersing to the cabin? How do they decide when the curtain is open/closed Is it loud when opening/ closing?
  22. 22. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Is the curtain staying closed easily? How do they decide when the curtain is open/ closed Adjust function through movement 5 Allow the user to adjust stages or degrees of function by moving the product or its parts. Consider applying different types of motion (e.g., rotating, sliding, rolling) and control mechanisms.This can give flexibility to the user through the transitions created between stages. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012
  23. 23. PERSONA TASK TASK + WALK THROUGH THE USER STORY Is the curtain staying closed easily? How do they decide when the curtain is open/ closed Adjust function through movement 5 Allow the user to adjust stages or degrees of function by moving the product or its parts. Consider applying different types of motion (e.g., rotating, sliding, rolling) and control mechanisms.This can give flexibility to the user through the transitions created between stages. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 LIST & GROUP INFORMATION Form Function Use/User Temporal System TARGETED IDEA GENERATION Flatten 35 Compress the product to a flat surface by removing connections or deflating it, or using flexible materials or joints.This can improve portability,durability,and © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Create service 28 Develop a service related to the product by defining interaction between the user and a service provider. This can improve user experience, or make the product easier to acquire, install, or use. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012
  24. 24. DISCUSSION • Even without prompting or explicit training, all participants were able to tell a credible user story • Students were generally not able to exhaust their ideas in the 10-15 minute period provided • Design Heuristics were primarily used when the students got “stuck” on a piece of critical information • Categorization of critical information was generative, promoting conversation about concerns or issues
  25. 25. SO WHAT ABOUT EMPATHY? • Our goal was to foster an empathic connection between the designer, their solution, and ultimately the end user • The empathic walkthrough pointed out areas where their knowledge of the user or use context was deficient • Empathy displayed was most often cognitive knowledge about what the user was feeling, with occasion articulations of the emotional feeling itself • No instances of participants responding with compassion 
 (i.e., product-centric, not user-centric)
  26. 26. the empathic walkthrough stimulates empathy strengthening existing human- centered approaches to idea generation and development
  27. 27. COLINGRAY.ME
 DESIGNHEURISTICS.COM THANK YOU This research is funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education, Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES Type II) Grants # 1323251 and #1322552.

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