Designing Experience Part 2

Goal: To add market value of the selected product (Fage yogurt) by exaggerating positive product perceptions that will strategically differentiate the product from competitors.

Strategy: Original product perceptions had to do with the high quality, simplicity, and authenticity of the product. Taking these ideas and matching them with current food product trends, I decided to envision Fage as an artisanal, small-batch product.

food 1

This category of packaged food has become a marketing trend, appealing to a growing number of consumers that are interested in homemade, whole ingredient foods. These are the same middle class customers shopping at farmer’s markets, seeking out food truck vendors, and eating at farm to table restaurants. This customer seeks the hand-crafted, the authentic, and is willing to pay slightly higher prices.

The new Fage yogurt will be the exact same product, with packaging that will appeal to this customer base.

The final product will have a clear glass jam jar, brown paper label, iconic style logo, with Greek-referential font.

Designing Experience


Product: Fage yogurt


 mind map

Container: old fashioned shape (reminds me of European groceries); foil top & wax paper – freshness and quality to product properties; smoothness – relates to product itself

Aesthetics: negative space – clean, simple, & white – product itself; logo – looks “foreign” and therefore authentic; font for “total 0%” also looks like imported item; only text besides nutrition & ingredients is rBGH denouncement (healthy & quality) and simple “All natural, nonfat and greek strained yogurt” (again noting simplicity); pronunciation guide lends authenticity

Company Branding Message: Fage WebsiteMarketing message aligns with my own perceptions – Greek product, artisanal, and simple.  The website has lots of white space; product page is very minimal; Marketing message focuses on freshness and simple ingredients.  Surprised by heavy focus on recipes.
Opportunities – About me page could be homepage – really sells the cultural authenticity and natural product. Container color splash is lost for meaning.

Repurposing Objects Assignment

For this assignment, we repurposed a commonly used item from our own activities of daily living.  Once we selected an item, we needed to mindmap to two levels: primary ideas based on the material properties of the object & secondary ideas based on three primary levels alone.

My object was a pair of TOMS tortoise shell sunglasses.

mindmapmindmap detail

My goal was to write as quickly as possible, then I wrote some notes on what was working/not working, ideas to explore, and possible selections for the next phase. This next phase referenced the d school method of storytelling – creating different types of POV: madlibs, analogies, and want ads. These types were explained in the d school readings, and consisted of created storyboards using three different approaches.  Each one should be generated from a separate object/primary/secondary relationship.

POV Madlib: sunglasses – protection – armor


POV Analogy: sunglasses – fashion – avant garde


POV Want Ad: sunglasses – tortoise shell – exotic


The process of mindmapping was fun and a comfortable technique.  I think mindmapping should be a quick exercise.  Once I had ideas that appealed to me, I stopped. Mistake! It would have been valuable to keep going and exhaust my thinking.

Storyboarding was much more difficult for me. I found I needed to step away from the assignment frequently – it took several days to complete.  Part of the challenge was allowing myself to ideate without a direction in mind, and to select which image would best represent the concept per panel.  I approached the assignment from an advertising campaign domain, which made the assignment make more sense to me.  The process ended with being satisfying, but challenging in an unexpected way.

Superglue Workshop

The Superglue Workshop was an in-class activity meant to get all of us students actively engaged with ideation & communication techniques used in design thinking.  I love these kinds of classes, where we get up, get active, and really push ourselves creatively.

Ashley provided prompts, without too much information about the final destination.  For me, this was key in that I stayed present in the process.  I tend to overthink, overanalyze and think about ideal outcomes before I have even allowed myself to dig deep in the ideation phase.

The class was organized into random teams.  I was grouped with Alex & Aaron.  Teams were tasked with writing down common scenarios in which communication is challenging.  We went to the white board and each wrote down our own ideas, based on personal experience, in a column on a shared board.

Next, we looked at our columns and identified shared themes.  Our team selected people having miscommunication over money, and this became the context we used for the remaining activities.

Ashley asked each team to create “How might we_____?”  questions related to our context, that posed a direction towards a solution. The questions were to be written on post-its and quantity was the focus.

Our team did well with quantity, and no idea was too silly or mundane to include.





Next, each team was asked to connect ideas into a short narrative.  By grouping three post-its and adding words between, a potential solution appears.  We grouped as many ideas as possible, again without judging the process.

20160224_120357 20160224_120402

Each team selected three groupings to used for storyboarding, and here is where superglue came into play.  Each story required superglue as the product placement that led to improved communication.  Each member of our team selected one story and quickly drew a three panel board.  We consulted with one another about the focus, superglue placement, and how best to capture the concept.

20160224_121449Aaron’s story (top): A couple is fighting over money. How about we…use sex to replace the fighting? The couple is “superglued” by increased intimacy.

My story (bottom): A couple fights over money because the wife makes more money than the husband.  The husband gets mocked by friends, turns to booze and crashes his car. The husband is sentenced to counseling, which “superglues” the couple together.

Alex’s story (right): A rich & selfish man watches Slumdog Millionaire. He is moved by the extreme poverty of the characters. He has an epiphany and sells all his belongings.  He moves to India and starts a charitable foundation to help the indigenous people.

The final part of the workshop was to see the other teams’ work. We walked around and looked at storyboards.  It was interesting to see the variety and how each team responded to the challenge.  It was obvious that each team had different results, and different strengths during the workshop process: some had few ideas, some had detailed storyboards, some were funny, some more serious.

For me, the workshop was really instructive, mainly because it was challenging.  As mentioned, I struggle with “letting go” during the ideation phase of design thinking.  This workshop topic was somewhat odd and that combined with the pace, but me in a vulnerable place.  I wasn’t researched or brainstorming topics that are my area of expertise – far from it! Being put in that position, especially in a group dynamic, forces me to be in the moment and just go for it!  This exercise really demonstrated how fun and productive one can be if you allow yourself the freedom to explore, the freedom to not overthink, and the freedom to push against constraints.



Social Gaming

For this assignment, we needed to design a game for a local business.  The goal of the game was to engage both customers & employees in a mutual satisfying way.  The choice of business was fairly open, but we could select the store from assignment #1.  I chose to select the store from the previous assignment, as well as to create a game that would address some of what I perceived as the store’s current business challenges.

The store is Switch Skate & Snow, otherwise know as Switch.  It is a local skate shop profiled in assignment #1 (persona).  The following images are from the class presentation:

I worked with a partner for this assignment, and I am really pleased with how we worked together and our final concept.  We came to our meeting prepared with initial thoughts & ideas about the assignment.  However, we used these ideas not as definite concepts, rather as a platform for building engagement as a team.  We played off one another easily, and the flow of ideas followed.  We used pictures and sketches to communicate and build the game, with each of us having complimentary skills.  I sketched and created the visual narrative, while he captured the story through text.

As I mentioned, I was really happy with the final concept. I think we should have prepared how we wanting to present our ideas to the class.  Our presentation ran long and we overlapped each other with explaining the game and providing the context.  I discovered later that there is an app simulator, which would have been a nice touch for the presentation.  We could have role-played a real scenario with the simulated app.

Overall, the assignment was interesting and challenging.  As a customer, I prefer either zero engagement with store staff or the exact opposite. It depends on the store.  Stores I am visiting out of necessity or for errands, I am most interested in convenience and quick customer service.  For stores that I am recreationally shopping in (fashion and beauty), I am much more open to engaging with employees, especially if they are sharing information relative to the shopping experience.  This concept of creating a game for store engagement was challenging, and I needed to think in a different mindset, to think given the persona I had created for assignment #1: how would this customer feel engaged? To me this was key for this social gaming assignment.

Bad!User!Bad! Assignment

This short assignment documented the design thinking process, from selecting a design problem to research, solution & testing.  We were to select a product or service with commonly reported poor performance or user experience.  For this assignment, I outlined my research findings, initial ideas, refined design solution, and prototype testing.  I follow with the inherent challenges from the selected solution.

Research: I brainstormed my own ideas for products & services, and explored online forums, articles, & blog posts for broader results.  I narrowed down five choices commonly reported:

  1. Cheese graters – hard to clean, can injury hand, & always left with “cheese nub”
  2. OBGYN appointments – psychologically & physically uncomfortable, unappealing environment, & uncomfortable gown
  3. Women’s apparel sizing – no standardization
  4. Computer keyboards – non-intuitive layout & hard to clean
  5. Department of Motor Vehicles – poor service, long wait, & unappealing environment

Selected Problem: The Department of Motor Vehicles.
I identified all the common complaints & identified the user.  Part of the challenge with this problem is that almost everyone in the US is a “user.”  The user is heterogeneous and consists of everyone over 16 yrs old who needs a state id or license.

Initial Ideas: My first concept was based on my own ideas on the ideal DMV experience – basically a beautiful environment with amazing service, punctual user-centered appointment programs and hassle-free online component.

Refining the Problem: The first solution was completely self-centered. The DMV serves many people with many different ideas of an ideal experience. I shared my concept with a friend and her reaction highlighted the need for further ideation.  She didn’t like my ideal DMV at all, which highlighted the need to think about serving a broad user base.
I conducted interviews with friends, family, and coworkers and felt like I got a more holistic view of the user’s needs.

Design Solution: Based on all the feedback, I envision a DMV that is first an attractive and community-oriented space. The building is “cradle-to-cradle,” meaning the building and landscape are the highest level of an environmentally friendly space.  The prevalence of glass, open floor plan and green space will feel more like a park than a government building.
The service is user-centered: you can bring your own ID photo, most services are available online, and inspection appointments are timed & monitored by an app.
To minimize frustration from wait time, there will be a Starbucks, or other similar food & beverage cafe area.  The green space will promote calm feelings and opportunity for pleasant outdoor “waiting areas.”

Prototype Testing: This posed a challenge for modelling, but I created a makeshift building, cars, & green space to simulate the traffic flow and accessibility.

Challenges: Despite what I consider to be a great solution, there is still the issue of heterogeneous user needs.  I polled a small sample, so my solution is inevitably biased by the input I received.  It is nearly impossible to serve everyone’s needs.  However, I feel that the proposed design solution is a significant improvement over the current system.

What if Main Street? Assignment

Our first assignment for Design Thinking, a class focused on design process & methods. Each team was given a local store and tasked with compiling a buyer persona based on user-centered research methods.

My team was given Switch Skate & Snow:

Our team brainstormed strategies to zero in on Switch customers: who are they? why do they shop at this store? What are their buying motivations?  Tricia interviewed the owner and talked with her skateboarding teenage son. Amira interviewed undergrads and friends who longboard, and a professor who shops at Switch. I “mined the web & social media” collecting photos and reviews.

persona review

persona instagram
We then met to synthesize our findings. We found four customer types from our research: (1) the teenage boy, aged 10-15, (2) the college age guy, aged 18-20, (3) the college age girl, age 18-22, and (4) adult skateboarders, age 28+.  The first two categories were evinced from interviews. The college girl category felt like an aspirational customer, one desired by the store owners and visible mainly in Switch’s Twitter feed.  Young women may be fashion & trend conscious and spend their discretionary income on clothing & accessories, but Switch does not seem to attract this market as a core customer base. The last category are adult skateboarders – this category reflects skateboarders that were a part of this subculture in their youth or have continued to skate as adults.  This category reflects the owners and staff of Switch, their friends and peers.

persona notes

Our synthesis – visual brainstorming and storytelling

Based on our research, the core customer of Switch and the one to which Switch is most directly appealing is teenage boys. This customer, once hooked, is hopefully a customer for life – through high school, college, and again with their kids.  This is our persona composite:


ENTR 617 What If Main St

Move 2 Learn Lab

What is Move 2 Learn?

This is my research lab at the University of Delaware. My advisor, Dr. Michele Lobo, is the principal investigator and director of the lab.  We are located in the STAR Health Sciences Complex.

What is our mission?

We design and test novel interventions and technologies aimed at improving mobility, function, learning, socializing, independence, and quality of life for people with disabilities.

Who are the M2L Team Members?

I am very lucky in that I get to work with an interdisciplinary team of scholars.  Dr. Lobo is a pediatric physical therapist and assistant professor at UD. Dr. Iryna Babik is a post-doc and her background is in developmental psychology.  Ben Greenspan is a grad student in biomechanics, with a BS from Mechanical Engineering.  And I am a PhD student in biomechanics with a BS and MS in fashion.

We also count all of our families and therapists as key team members as well. We could not do what we do without their feedback.  Each family I work with is truly a “co-designer”, helping me to create devices that suit their needs…and their style!

3D Puzzle Concept

For ENTR 601 “Methods, Modeling, and Prototyping” our next project was to create a concept piece based on a wooden puzzle cube:

(1) Design a 5 part puzzle cube using any configuration of 3/4″ wooden blocks


(2) Draft the individual puzzle pieces in CAD software

(3) Develop a concept for a commercial product for the puzzle cube:

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Digital Pet Project 2.0

Update on the Digital Pet Project! As we learn more about coding and the various components in our Inventor’s Kit, we are tasked with continual upgrades.  Well, upgrade number 1 is afoot:

digital pet 2b

Adding a servo motor! This motor will function as “wag” and will move when the soft potentiometer is touched near the top – creating a high pitched “happy” noise from the peizo buzzer.  It does not move at all when the sensor is touched at the bottom and the low (growl) tone occurs.

Now to add a tail!