April 19th, 2011
Reframing the Question
As a UX/IA Strategist, I recently had the good fortune to be a part of the second annual Design for Impact bootcamp at the Austin Center for Design.
The day-long session was intense and collaborative, a great opportunity for everyone involved to learn more about guerrilla ethnography, research synthesis, rapid ideation and prototyping. The main focus of the bootcamp was on better health initiatives and as we broke into small groups, each focused on a different aspect of nutrition, ranging from food preparation to fitness and exercise.
One idea among many that resonated with me is the process of “reframing” during the ideation process for any project. Reframing takes existing objects that have assumed purposes and challenges you to re-imagine them through new perspectives – potentially in entirely new environments or even physical embodiments.
Jon Kolko of AC4D/Thinktiv had the great example of a toothbrush. Reframed, a toothbrush can be seen as a service (dentist cleaning) or even a plant (chew on that mint!). But what happens when we reframe not just objects, but people or social situations? By taking a broader look at the people that may use the toothbrush (a child, a hotel housekeeper, a blind date) and the potential environments in which it could be used (in a public bathroom, in the kitchen, in an airplane), suddenly what seemed like a simple product carries with it totally new insights and implications.
While this endless “What if?” process does result in illogical contexts for a concept (intentionally so), it also forces us to take a broad, open-minded look at things that can easily be assumed to be one dimensional – and is a great exercise in suspending criticism to see all possible vantage points.
At Big Spaceship, we’re always trying to look at the bigger picture of how brands can fit into people’s lives in meaningful ways, not solely as products. By approaching challenges this way, were able to gain a better understanding of the behavior that influences the decisions people make in their daily lives.
How does reframing change your view on the products you use every day?