What I Learned in CS247B

Designing for Behavior Change

Before this class…

True story: I walked into a design internship interview last spring without knowing what a design system was. As you can imagine, I fumbled that one… It turns out I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about visual design! In my previous HCI coursework, I had never taken a class that really explained the fundamentals there.

I also didn’t know a lot about the history of persuasive technology. I’d never had a dedicated class space at Stanford to talk about design justice, accessibility, rotisserie chicken being an instrument for manipulation at Costco, and more.

But in this class…

Most importantly , we made a lot of stuff, we shared a lot of the stuff we made, and we iterated on it.

Hands-on experience and iteration were crucial to learning in this class. Even my sketchnotes got better over time:

Left: First Sketchnote. Right: Midquarter Sketchnote.

Here are a couple highlights of what I learned through all the hands-on practice:

  1. brand identity and design systems.
Source: Christina Wodtke

I learned that you can use moodboards and style tiles to capture the design language of your product. You could define “design language” narrowly as the icons, colors, fonts, and buttons, but you could also define this as your brand’s promises and experiences; it is an assessment of character.

2. new user research tools: journey maps and prototypes.

Left: Nielsen Norman Group. Right: Houde & Hill, 1997.

I know that journey maps and prototypes are very different, but I consider them both new tools in my user research toolkit. I appreciate journey maps as a way to visualize user’s needs and feelings over time. I also loved the “What do Prototypes Prototype?” reading, and I think about the ways a brick can be a prototype all the time now.

3. an industry perspective on the design process.

Source: Christina Wodtke

I appreciated Christina’s insights about design IRL. The perfectly modeled design thinking cycle in CS147 never did make sense to me. Instead, I experienced the constant tension between diverging vs. converging on a concept, and testing (it *should* be unpolished) vs. pitching an idea (put your best designed foot forward!).

4. frameworks for ethical design.

We came away with more questions than answers during ethics time, but I see a lot of value in that now: asking the right questions can help you examine an issue with more clarity. Having real-life case studies was particularly helpful here too. For that reason, I appreciate how we went through the different types of privacy, manipulation, well-being, and design frameworks (value-sensitive design, universal design, inclusive design, design justice, and many world design).

After this class, I plan on…

Designing more with the intent of sharing. I was really inspired by all of my classmates’ work and the way they went the extra mile to make their work more polished and shareable. And even if it isn’t polished, I’ve learned this quarter that my work can always at least be shareable. Publishing articles on Medium for a whole quarter definitely emboldened me in this regard, and it pushes me to design for an actual audience.

Defining my own bright lines. I appreciated the bright lines exercise we did at the end of the class; even though design ethics can be murky, we ended on something definitive and urgent, given how much happened this quarter with Google and Facebook ethics. I’m in the process of making my own list of non-negotiables.

There were a lot more nuggets along the way, but that’s all for now. Thank you to the teaching team for the ride. :)

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Jenny Han

Jenny Han

getting schooled @ stanford hci