Designing for Specific Users
The project of Module 7 focuses on trying to solve a problem for a specific user. At the start of the project, a co-designer was assigned to the group that the members would have to collaborate with throughout the project. The assigned co-designer was a female with autism. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of conditions that are characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication.
The co-designer is a psychologist and a coach who helps people on the spectrum, especially women living with ASD. She has an Instagram page with over ten thousand followers where she spreads advice and experiences to her followers that deal with the daily struggles associated with ASD. Besides her own company she also works at the GGZ where she also specializes in ASD, her background in psychology combined with her own experience gives her a good vision and expertise on the subject of Autism.
When starting the project a meeting was quickly scheduled with the co-designer. During this first meeting, the term overstimulation came up often. Overstimulation, or sensory overload, is when the senses are completely overloaded with information. This can make it difficult or impossible to fully process the information received. Overstimulation is often seen in people with ASD.
Overstimulation is very subjective, meaning that it depends on the person how to cope and prevent it. The co-designer stated that planning helps her with preventing overstimulation. That is how the KrachtPlanner was made (a physical planner made by the co-designer herself), on which the group has based the project.
ASD was further researched by the group to more thoroughly understand how it affects the co-designer. Resulting of this and also the meetings with the co-designer, the design challenge was set up:
“Reduce overstimulation through an iterative process, using a digital planner”
For this a web application was made, together with applications for a phone and a smartwatch, in which a planning can be made and customized by the user. This planner reminds the person with ASD to take a break from time to time to prevent overstimulation from happening and also gives tips on how to cope with it.
During one of the co-design sessions, the co-designer indicated that current smartwatches can overwhelm her, which can contribute to overstimulation. With this in mind, the group decided to make a simplistic, autism friendly watch which can be used together with the application. The watch is designed specifically for users with autism and can feature as a platform specifically for applications assisting people on the spectrum.
Finally, a goal was made to make people with autism aware of the positive effects that planning can have on their life. For this, a website was designed, on which the client can order a (physical) KrachtPlanner. With the website, people with autism can become aware of the positive effects of planning, which assists them in the gap to the web application. This means that first the user will buy a digital planner, and after using it they might consider trying the watch together with the application to finally assist them in the best way to prevent overstimulation.
Industrial Design Engineering Bachelor Program
Project Designing For Specific Users
University of Twente, 2022
Project coordinators: Jelle van Dijk, Eva Blokhuis and Niels van Huizen
Karsten van Pruissen
Katinka van der Spek