My seven months long master thesis project investigated how to use design to create thoughtful experiences of the user, when the user is triggered to reflect on her life or the activity she is doing.
Considering how quickly mobile devices are taking over all the time of our life, there is surprisingly little focus on utilizing technology to attend our thoughts, be mindful and “slow”, in a positive meaning.
I wanted to tackle this “wicked problem”, by creating tools for designers to help them creating thoughtful experiences, to help them design for reflection.
The project went through four different stages of development: the beginning was spent digging deep into the psychological, philosophical, cognitive aspects of reflection and was concluded in a living prototype of a framework, which combines all the literature learnings into a single system.
At the second phase, participatory design research started, by collecting qualitative data from designers: I investigated what kind of product properties do designers find reflective, and characterized patterns of situations when people find themselves reflective.
The output of the theoretical and practical investigation was outputted into a design method and a set of pattern cards, which stood as a prototype for further refinement. This prototypical design method and cards were iterated through two workshops with educators and designers, whose feedback were constantly incorporated in the incrementally improving versions.
In the end, an expert review was conducted to refine the details of the design tool, establishing its final form. Currently a scientific article is under development about the project and the outcomes.
By its length and by its depth, this project was both challenging and be a massive learning opportunity as a designer. Tackling such an abstract problem as “How to design to evoke reflection”, in the end I managed to break down this problem into pragmatical outcomes, which should help any designer to create (more) thoughtful experiences for the users of her products.