Yvonne’s Final Reflection

“Hey, now you can tell yourselves, if your teacher draws that badly, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about your drawing”, said Christina jokingly during the first drawing exercise demonstration on Zoom. Smiling at the joke, I told myself, this class is going to be fun. I enrolled for fun and walked away with tons of learning and experience.

Before 247B, I was at a very confusing point in my Stanford career. I recently dropped Computer Science from my major – the major I studied for over two years – because I realized I crave for the space for creativity and agency in my professional work. I think I like the product design process, but I never did an end-to-end product so there was always a doubt in my mind. CS 247B was my first time designing a digital product from start to finish. I learned so much about product design and HCI steps, such as mapping techniques, study designs, and useability testing. More importantly, I enjoyed every step of the process, both the struggles and the achievements – and my constant sense of satisfaction and growth during the project is the reason why I can say confidently now, that I want to be a product designer.

There are many tools I would take away from this class, including the mapping techniques and evidence-based thinking in design. I particularly enjoyed working on system path diagram because I loved putting myself in the shoes of different users to imagine how they would/should experience the product. I have the tendency to make designs on what I personally think is important or necessary, and the system path diagram pushed me to think outside of my circumstances. In my future designs, the system path diagram could definitely help our group anticipate user needs before user testing could take place, which would save our resources. I also really enjoyed the two studies we ran, as they made me realize experiments and studies do not have to come from scientific research and papers. As a designer, now I feel like I now have the skills and mindset to run my own mini studies to test my theories and designs. I used to think that what people call “evidenced-based” designs are just designs based on boring and uncreative theories published in papers from decades ago. Now I realized that “evidence-based” designs can be equally or even more creative and unique. In my previous design works, it happened multiple times that I thought I had a great idea, but there was no existing evidence to show the idea would work, and the team went on to pick some other more reliable idea. Next time when that occurs, I will have the toolbox and willingness to test my ideas and push for evidence-based innovations.

This class also made me reflect on my ideas of product design as an industry in general. Thinking product design is such a young and creative discipline, I was surprised to find that Stanford Product Design department and d.school in general mostly consists of white and male faculties. 247B taught us the importance of being inclusive in our designs, but what kind of environment do designers need to be in to feel comfortable to promote inclusivity when that is not yet status quo? In the capstone presentations by PD seniors merely three years ago, the panel of judges was formed solely of white men. A girl that was working on a fashion design project for queer women felt so uncomfortable with the judging panel that she ended up requesting to invite more diverse judges herself. In 247B, although our final project did not end up implementing any crazy ideas, I felt encouraged and comfortable to explore new and inclusive ideas, like the plant-watering therapy. I realized my willingness to try these new ideas is largely thanks to how Christina is always so positive and relaxed in class, and the frequent ethical discussions made the environment more inducive for creative or inclusive designs. These thoughts made me more aware of the importance of the environment, and maybe through “soft resistance” or choosing my environment more carefully, I hope to be able to be in an inclusive and comfortable environment more in the future, and create such an environment for others.

I am very proud of what our team came up within ten weeks, and I enjoyed working with my teammates. However, the project was so fast-paced that by the end of the quarter, we were not able to fully discuss and integrate the learnings from previous stages. I wonder if it would be beneficial for students to start doing prototypes earlier in the quarter. Additionally, I wished we could have more time in “designing a solution and assumption mapping”. I felt like there were still so many things we did not feel sure about in the solution after the intervention study, and many of them went beyond assumptions. I felt like I rushed in coming up with an idea and testing the basic assumptions, which resulted in us having many unanswered questions.

I especially appreciated the ethical focus of the class, and particularly because many topics of discussion, such as privacy and the balance between universality and specificity of a project, are relevant to companies even at the earliest starting stage. Diversity and inclusivity are two of the most important values to me personally, but in a startup, we often have to pick a narrower user group to start off, which is the reasonable and probably right thing to do. However, at what stage of the company growth should inclusivity be brought to a higher priority? Additionally, in terms of the three theories of well-being, our app focuses on well-being in the objective list theory. However, I wonder if designers should try harder to make designs integrating multiple definitions of well-being, especially since well-being under the objective list theory does not promote true internal happiness, and is rather a result of the capitalistic society.


About the author