In Bill Moggridge’s piece, “People”, he discusses the four methods of the human factor being integrated into design and interaction. These four methods – Learn, Look, Ask, Try – are actually the categories for a larger group of methods.
The four methods do best when used in tandem with one another, but one must be attempted to be done alone, I would suggest it be “Try”. Try takes the factors of Learn, Look, and Ask and has the creator of design hypothesize what results Learn, Look, and Ask would bring about. To quote Bill Moggridge, when one does the Try method, they “create simulations and prototypes to help empathize with people and to evaluate proposed designs.”
He proceeds to list submethods with examples to emphasize what possibilities could exist. Three of these four submethods listed are ones I’ve already utilized in the past: Empathy Tools, Scenarios, and Informance.
Empathy Tools emphasizes adapting yourself with props in order to offer a new perspective that you may normally lack. The example given is about wearing weighted gloves to simulate having limited dexterity and tactile sensation. When I was in high school, I was wondering what it was like for the deaf students in my school. It was an arts school, and these students were unable to hear any of the singers or musicians. I couldn’t begin to fathom what it was like as someone with extremely sensitive hearing. Knowing that I had few days off coming, the day before I had off I went to school with earplugs and sound-reducing headphones. I experienced what it was like that day in school, and over my vacation, to interact and live life without sound. And it changed my perspective on the deaf community and on how being deaf should be viewed. Whenever I’ve had thoughts of things I could create, I always take the deaf community in mind now – how could whatever I might make, whatever ideas I come up with, be effective to those with and without hearing? I think back to those days where I sat through a concert recital unable to hear a thing, or how shows that lacked closed captioning that had people talking without facing the screen or talking off screen made watching a show impossible.
When one illustrates a character-rich storyline describing the context of use for a product of service, Bill Moggridge would say they are using the Scenarios submethod. This is one I use often. I think of the possible paths a decision may take, and then write out small stories with people involved in my life to determine what would happen. It leads me to have four or five vignettes or short stories from one decision. It’s a very useful practice that can also be applied to the design world, as is described in the example from “People” with the designing of a community website.
Acting out an “informative performance” scenario by role-playing insights or behaviors that you have witnessed or researched is what one does when using the Informance submethod. Again, this is one I use frequently, both with my relatives and my significant other. I’ve also used this with my two younger relatives with disabilities so that they can show me how they see me acting with them, or how others are interacting with them, so I can teach them what to do or how to respond in the future.
Using the Try method is acceptable in pretty much every project one can think of, so long as there is a human that will be interacting with the finished project.