Michelle Chen.
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The Wallet Project

This fast-paced project from Stanford University d.School takes the participant through the entire design process in one hour. The project encourages the participant to practice empathy and user research techniques to rapidly design something “useful and meaningful” for a specific user. Below is an abbreviated version of my Wallet Project.  
Draw: 3 minutes

The project starts with making rough sketches of the ideal wallet thinking of each possible use case of this wallet to address. At this point, you can see that there are so many different user needs and goals to address. Without any context or research, it is hard to design the “ideal” wallet.

Step 1
Interview: 5 minutes

Find someone nearby and interview them about their own wallet. During the interview, my interviewee, Cindy mentioned that she never has cash so she only carries a cardholder. Therefore, she relies mainly on credit, debit, or gift card transactions. I also had Cindy take me through some daily transactions she makes where she uses her wallet.

Step 2
Dig Deeper: 3 minutes

Spend 3 minutes conducting a second interview. In this interview, Cindy mentioned that she does keep an extra wallet at home if she happens to take out cash. However, most of the time she is on-the-go because she works at a bakery every day. When she’s not at work, she’s out hanging out with her friends; in all these activities all she needs is her debit/credit card and/or her phone. Therefore, she finds her cardholder and packing light the most convenient.

Step 3
Sketch: 5 minutes

Try to come up with at least 5 solutions for the person you’ve interviewed.

In these designs, I focused on the information and stories that Cindy had shared with me. As someone that wants to travel light, I wanted to see how minimalistic she would feel comfortable with. Would she be willing to use laminated pouches on a ring to carry her cards? Another route I wanted to go was focusing on something that would allow her to eliminate the need for a cardholder at all. Would a phone wallet still fulfill her needs? Or is there a reason she wants her wallet and phone separate from each other?

With the many solutions I came up with, I was looking forward to hearing her feedback on my ideas.

Step 4
Share your solutions & gain feedback: 5 minutes

My notes:
-Cindy likes transparent material to distinguish the differences between her ID, credit/debit card, and gift cards
-Concerns with putting all cards in a stack because she has to flip through to see which card is which
-Wants cards to be secure and not fall out

Cindy thought the zip loc bag and laminated pouches on a ring ideas were interesting but didn’t feel comfortable with storing her cards this way. However, she did like how ziploc bags sealers are more sturdy versus how zippers can easily break. Additionally, she liked that the laminated pourches were see through. Out of the different solutions, Cindy was most interested in the phone wallet that can be attached to the back of the phone.

Step 5 Reflect and generate a new solution: 3 minutes

With Cindy’s feedback, I was able to have a better idea of how to make a wallet more suited to her needs. I set out to mix the laminated pouches, ziploc seal, and phone wallet all into one idea. The main goals of the design were: transparent, thin/light, ability to carry multiple cards, and option to carry cash.

Note: in the orginal exercise, the next step involves building a prototype. However, I skipped this step due to time and material constraints. 

Step 6 Share your solution and get feedback: 4 minutes

I loved that the Wallet Project was able to show how easy and fast you can go from sketching out general ideas to limiting down to a couple of solutions to focus on designing for the user’s needs. This exercise also taught me the importance of empathizing and how designing a product with insights from user observation is so much more productive than starting from scratch. Overall, this was a great exercise in understanding using a human-centered design process to design a product.

Michelle Chen ✌️             
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