"Make Tools" and User Experience

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Elizabeth Sanders (2002) believes there is a shift happening in design that generated an attitude to think about designing with users instead of designing for users (Sanders, 2002). Everyone has something to add on top of the main idea in a design process, so why should they be ignored? She also stated If they can have appropriate toolkits to express their ideas, they can share their thoughts and ideas in a creative process. However, it should be considered that these participants are not part of the team, but they speak for the research and share their insights.

It is also believed that, it is hard to design experience, because it is a step-by-step creative activity and users will produce it. This process has two sides, communicator and communicate, it is important to see how these two are interacting in a certain moment. The question here is how this communication can be understood and how they can be collected in a sort of valuable conversation, which can create positive effects during the design process in order to design a meaningful experience? To summarize, how do we access experience?

Access to Experience

Elizabeth Sanders (2002) in her all encompassing research about user-centered process and co-design has proposed sort of rules in order to collect users’ current experience and their preferred experience. She believes designers can listen to what people say, and catch what they think. Designers also can watch what people do and see how users use a product and understand what people know about a context. Regarding this understanding, they can realize what users’ feel and value their dreams. Then, these actions from users can be categorized into three main actions: say (say, think), do (do, use), make (know, feel, dream). The important point here, in regard to users’ feelings, dreams, and knowledge, is that specialty tools are needed (Sanders, 2002).

What People Say, Do, And Make (Sanders, 2002)
Elizabeth Sanders (2002) argues designers must provide ‘make tools’ for users to make a language in common between users and designers (Sanders, 2002). These ‘make tools’ should be projective. They also need to have potentials to show people’s creativity. So they need to be easy to use and they should not have complicated features for people, how are using the toolkit to show their thought.

Regarding my last article about empathic design, if we can have a tool in our empathic relationship with users, we can let them talk more and make what they belive in, then we could realize what is their preferred experience. This can be argued that, these say, do, and make actions bring empathy in the design process, if they could be done in the ‘connection’ phase of the empathetic framework in order to make a connection with stakeholders of a design project.

An example of a make tool that we can use in user experience design process, is paper prototyping. In this technique our make tools are paper pieces , we can ask users to put pieces to gether and make a wireframe of the page layout for our project. For example, in Experts Exchnage, we can ask our users to create a design for our "Ask" page, using papers and markers to write down on those papers. So the process is like creating puzzles, my study in this fields shows that using these kinds of tangible tools enables user to talk more about the feature that they like to see in a specific component of a page, for example when they are picking a small size of paper to use that as a submit button, they do not need to be nervous about drawing a rectangle, they just need to put that piece of paper in a place that they prefer, then by probing techniques they will be asked to tell us why the decided to put that in a specific location, then easily they can move it and play with that to find an appropriate place for that.

There are a lot more example of "make tools" that can be found in Sanders' make tools website: http://www.maketools.com/
There is also some interesting videos by Li sanders that talks more and more about make tools and their effects in design process. http://www.maketools.com/videos-0.html


Sanders, E. B. N. (2002). From user-centered to participatory design approaches. Design and the social sciences: Making connections, 1-8.
Eslamifar, A. (2014). A Tool for Empathetic User Experience Design (Doctoral dissertation, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY).


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