No right answers, only options.
It seems to us that the design process is one of coming up with any number of possible solutions to one problem. None of these solutions is ‘right’ – they are all just options that may or may not be worth pursuing. Take for example, a recent problem we were having a look at: never having enough time for ourselves in our busy modern lifestyles.
To start with, we tried to get to the bottom on the problem, and find a question we could design an answer for... to do that, we asked ourselves ‘Why’ the problem existed until we got to a position where we had a question we were comfortable with:
Once we got to this point, we were free to explore solutions that answered this question: not solutions that seemed immediately viable mind you, just fun, exciting ways to solve the problem. Some of the ideas we came up with included:
A ‘Wellness Calculator’, where you could input how you spent your day and it would convert this information into a Wellness rating, which tells you how ‘good’ your day has been for you. So you could input how long you worked for, how much time you spent exercising and doing what, what you ate, how much time you slept, what you did for entertainment, and so on. By seeing a concrete value for the effect our choices have on our wellness, we might be encouraged to give more priority to those things that are good for us.
A ‘Reminder App’, that empowers you to keep your commitments by articulating the choices you make when you choose how you spend your time. Every time you prioritise another task over taking care of yourself, you make a choice – this app articulates the consequence of these choices in terms of what they mean to you, and expresses them through the use of messages that are read to you when the alarm sounds and you make your choice. Here is our preliminary visualisation:
We have developed this idea a little further: have a look here, and if you have time, fill in the short survey letting us know what you think.
We all probably spend a lot more time on Facebook than we really need to, at the expense of other things in our life. So what about a ‘Facebook App’, that posts reminders and encouragements on your wall, giving you the motivation to make time for the important things, as well as allowing your friends to participate in the conversation and keep you accountable. You can enter your schedule of commitments, and it would post automated friendly reminders and responses to see if you met these commitments. For example:
Lastly, it’s much easier to notice the phone ringing, our family or friends asking for attention, or the email that just landed in our inbox that needs an urgent response, than to notice what our own mind/body/soul needs. So what about a ‘Mini Me’ device, which takes all our internalised needs and expresses them for us – a physical manifestation of our inner selves, that could be just as visible and able to compete with the other demands in our life? This could take any number of shapes... one could be a mobile device that we carry with us to schedule in our commitments, perhaps even recording our own voice memos. This device will then send us emails, sms’, phone calls or alarms when it’s time to attend to these needs. We can make time to answer the phone when other people call– what if we could answer the phone to find ourselves on the line, telling us to make time for the task we have scheduled? Another version of this could perhaps be a bracelet that can measures our biorhythms, and give us reminders when we need to relax, rest, eat or sleep.
As you can see, none of these ideas is perfect, and none is ‘right’... given the right people working on it and the right processes, maybe they could all come to fruition.
What do you think though – which one appeals to you, and how come?
The ideas expressed in this post, and the manifestations, representations, images and text related to these ideas is copyright by Twenty Six Letters; all rights reserved, including no unauthorised usage of images or concept. February 2013.