Stanford’s Crash Course in Design

Stanford’s Crash Course in Design It is a 90-minute full design cycle that takes participation in The Gift-Giving Project. It is a fast-paced project where participants pair up to interview each other, identify real needs, and develop a solution to “redesign the gift-giving experience” for their partner. NO PREVIOUS DESIGN EXPERIENCE REQUIRED.

It has been exactly one week since I took part of Stanford’s Crash Course in Design. And I can honestly say that it was eye-opening, regarding my perspective over what “design” meant. Although brief and a bit overwhelming, the course covered the process of design from a single thought to an actual product (or solution).

First, I was paired off with one of my classmates. Indiana, or Indi, had already taken the course. So she was able to direct me into the right train of thought when questioning  each other. I felt like I was somewhat cheating for knowing beforehand what the task was about. But looking back, it didn’t matter if you knew the process of creating a prototype. It only matter if the design you created was satisfying your initial purpose.
My classmates issue was that she had trouble decorating her presents with a personal touch. My solution was an online company that can be partnered up with an online retailer, such as Amazon, and redirect the presents to my company for personal decorations. For instance, Indi ordered something from Amazon but when it arrived to her boyfriends doorstep, it was blunt and there wasn’t any message or card attach to it. So, by using the SCCD I was able to ‘theoretically’ improve her gift giving experience through easy online customizing option.


How did engaging with a real person, testing with a real person, change the direction your prototype took?

Engaging with Indi was like taking a refreshing gulp of cold water (room temperature actually because I just don’t like cold water). Personally I don’t have the problem of adding a personal touch to my gifts so I naturally don’t think of it as a problem, much less to others. But for Indi this problem was recurring and it bother her how much she struggled to personalize her gifts. So the “inspiration” for my solution was present and it served as a reminder of what I am trying to accomplish. I can imagine why creating solutions/prototypes can be hard as the initial adrenaline wears off, and the designers are left off an inspiration to create a solution.

Talking and testing my prototype was also an interesting and demanding experience. First off, I’ve never designed anything with demanding critical thinking. So, having to thoroughly think of a solution to create a prototype on a 90 minute period, was definitely a challenge.

I was also receiving on the spot feedback. For instance, if I didn’t understand what type of gift she was giving I had the advantage of asking her to explain more. Being there facilitate my methods of creating a prototype as well. I had the advantage of personalizing the prototype for her, rather to an entire audience. I think engaging with a real person, a SINGLE person was easier to focus on to create a solution. By doing so, creating a prototype was easier when receiving immediate feedback.  


What was it like showing unfinished work to another person?

I’m not going to lie. Showing unfinished work to another person was intimidating. It is specially intimidating to show my unfinished work to Indi because the focus of this course is on an individual’s problem. So when showing it to her, I basically showing her half the problem solved composed with half the effort. I was basically saying “Here you go! It’s a rushed, half-a$$ed prototype to improve your gifting experience! Hope you like it!”

But at the same time it was comforting to know my classmates, Indi, and I where going through the same struggles when coming up with ideas. We were all struggling to come up with an original functional prototype that improved the other’s gifting experience.

So in the end, showing my unfinished work to another person was somewhat less embarrassing as I was conscious that this was a “drill” and not an actual job. I now understand the importance of preparation through the course of creating a prototype.


Design thinking is ITERATIVE: Based on what you learned – what would you go back and do next or do over again?

As I said in the beginning, this 90-minute course was eye-opening. I’ve never tried to design something with such thinking and thought to it, that going through the steps of the course tested my focus and patience. It was hard to main focus throughout the course, at least for myself, because I kept wanting to jump to the next step out of impulse. I hadn’t even finished the 3 step, when my mind was already thinking of how to construct a prototype.

I would NOT go back and re-do this “small” outcome, or even changed a few things. I learned how to get an idea and put into practice (prototype). I learned to think outside the box, which is something that any designer should astride for. I learned that along the way, you might not get the results you want and that’s OK. Thinking about this in-depth, was a glimpse of the process that designers go through to get their designs out there.

If I had the chance to push this small project forward, I would first reasearch…. I think this idea has been thought out and put into practice… Oh well! If that is not the case, I would push this online company to become a reality and improve people’s online gifting experience.


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