Andi Lozano

Blog Gift-Giving Project

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The's Gift-Giving Project is a 90-minute exercise that cycles through an entire design thinking process. 

In one of my User Experience classes, we were asked to engage in this process through a fun and fast-paced challenge. We paired up with one of our classmates to attempt to "design" a solution for their gift-giving experience. The process included interviews, point-of-view statements, ideation, and the making of a prototype.

I paired up with a man named Chip, an older gentleman who, I discovered through my interview, had a heart of gold and a deeply rooted love for his family.

Step One: Interview

As I interviewed Chip, I asked what the last gift he gave was. "A book for my sister," he said nonchalantly. He said the book had been traveling through the family; it was a memento from their mother's house growing up.

As we chatted more, I needed to empathize further and wanted to understand his family. His sister was a historian, and he thought she would appreciate the book. His mother passed a few years back, and it had ultimately caused distance between himself and his siblings. Pretty deep in the first five minutes, am I right?

Step Two: Dig Deeper

Chip has 5 SIBLINGS. Yes... 5. They are all spread out into different parts of the country. All of them were piano players growing up, and they all enjoyed the theatre. Everyone was about one and a half years apart, and they were all very close growin up.

In the present day, Chip loves the tangible experience of reading letters his mother had written while she was alive. It was something he took for granted in her lifetime. He longed for a way to have this connection with his siblings, so he started writing letters to them. Sadly, his family didn't quite feel the same, and he only got one letter in return.

Step Three: Capture Findings

Okay, time to diverge. Based on my discussions with Chip, I came up with a few statements to get my brain going. 

  • Chip needs a way to create tangible memories with his family.
  • Chip enjoys hand written letters.
  • Chip values family and needs a way to capture that.
  • Chip needs a way to feel close to his siblings through geographical distance.
  • Chip has five siblings.
  • Chip is sort of old-fashioned in the sense that he enjoys hand written letters over emails and phone calls over text messages.

Step Four: Define Problem Statement

After some digging, I came up with this statement:

Chip needs a tangible way to feel close to his family because they all live in different parts of the country.

Step Five: Sketch Radical Ways to Meet Your User's Needs

I found this step to be incredibly difficult. In most other design thinking exercises I've completed, I generally created some type of app or digital design. But in order to effectively achieve human-centered design, I needed to put my user at the heart of this process, and a digital product is not what my user wanted. He specifically said he was "old-fashioned", so a digital application would not be meeting the needs of my user.

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Step Six: Share your solutions & capture feedback.

I shared my five ideas, and "The Dolan Book of Letters" resonated most with Chip. The book of letters was essentially a traveling journal, and could include memorabilia from daily life like movie tickets, old family photos that were discovered, current photos and, most importantly, hand written letters.

Step Seven: Reflect & generate a new solution.

So I got to thinking, Why don't I send more letters? More often than not, it's because I don't keep stamps on hand. So I added a front pocket in the journal where stamps could be held. The family member to use the last stamp would need to replenish.

Step Eight: Prototype Time!

Break out the stapler, sharpies and construction paper! I love rapid prototyping. It helps you to get a general idea of how a product is going to function and feel before you go out and spend a ton of money. Here is the solution I came up with.

click the image to see different views of the prototype

Step Nine: Share Your Solution and get feedback

When the time came to share our prototypes with our partners, I was so excited and nervous, hoping that Chip would love it. As I spoke about my prototype, Chip revealed a gentle smile with a few small laughs and said, "I love it."

I didn't capture great photos of my prototype because Chip asked if he could keep it, and how could I say no? Later on in the semester, he said his family started to implement the Dolan Book of Letters with a basic journal and a few stamps. It without a doubt made my heart melt, and was one of those moments where I truly felt and saw that human-centered design is the most impeccable way to achieve solutions.

Andi Lozano1 Comment