Step 3) Create the user task matrix – PART 1

“I don’t know who I am!” screams Jason Bourne in the first installment of the Bourne series, who is struggling to recall his memories, forgotten his name and forgotten his identity.

We don’t go through the same circumstances as Bourne does :). Strange but true, we can have opinions about our friends and family members. But when it comes to defining your self, it is not an easy thing to do. There might be an inherent feeling about your abilities, your emotions and your actions, but we often rely on others to define our persona.

When I was at NID (National Institute of Design), the first semester involved many exercises centered around discovering me as a person – what I like & dislike, what are things I cherish the most, what are my escape routes, what do I value and don’t value, etc. Most of my student friends had given up these kinds of exercises – their argument was that they already know how they are as a person and there was little delight they were deriving from the exercises.

The faculty member presented us this rationale– unless you don’t know who you are, you will find it difficult to understand who / what/ why / how the other person is. The objective of those exercises was to probe deeper into yourself and understand the person you are – your background, your value system, your aspirations and perhaps your fears too.

If someone told you that are emotional person, take it in your stride. Perhaps that’s a compliment someone paid you, free of cost :).Being a designer you need that skill, to imbibe the world around you and come out with the best possible design.

As you may recall in our older posts, you can understand another person (i.e. a user of any product or service) by employing various techniques – observing the user, talking to the user, doing desk research, seeking opinions of the experts, etc. There are always different schools of thought – is it user-centered design or is it user-inspired design or is it user-assisted design or is it business-centered design? Very rarely will be products designed in a genius-driven mode, as Dan Saffer explains in his book “Designing For Interaction”.

Without getting into the debate – let’s stick to a stand: every product that is designed has users’ needs reference. Let’s not worry over the semantics.

Having a keen eye to capture context data (where the user works, how he works, what time he/she has lunch, etc.) will help you a lot. Examples of keen eye: Hope you recall the chase sequence in the movie ‘The Dark Knight’ where the Joker is aiming for Harvey Dent’s bulletproof car with a bazooka gun – the Joker is riding a trailer and he slides the trailer door to reveal something written in big typo on the door. It says “Slaughter is the best medicine” :). One who understands the psyche of the Joker has done a great job – the production designer.

One more example: The last minutes of the movie ‘Despicable Me’- the Minions are arranging the dance performance of Margo, Edith and Agnes. In a very short frame of time, you might notice the Blu ray player to be named as “Gru-ray player” :). An animator / designer who has imbibed the ‘ecosystem’ around him/her can only create this kind of work.

So you might have found out who you are, for some it’s still work-in-progress.

Ultimately, it is all about the discovery.

One thought on “Step 3) Create the user task matrix – PART 1

  1. Pingback: Step 3) Create the user task matrix – PART 4 | Paper prototypes for everyday design

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