Observation Study


The first and easiest step to identifying problems (opportunities!) for sinks seemed to be making a bug list. Obviously, the easiest way is not always the best way, and a bug list is limited to problems relevant to me, but I thought I'd let loose with Occam's Razor and hopefully find a few good points to branch off from.

Sinks Bug List

Okay, so the bug list does its job. Lots of simple, irritating little things that happen often - mainly with bathroom or kitchen sinks. What I didn't really get out of it are: things that happen with less frequent situations (laundry tub, hand-washing clothes, pools, dish basins like they have at restaurants, industrial dishwashers), things that are perhaps more fun than functional (LED water faucets), and technical details (materials, assemblies, water pressure).

Since the assignment was to focus on one area, I stuck with the direction my bug list took: household sinks (kitchen and bathroom) and related tasks. I think fun things can fit into that category, as it relates to how kids approach mundane household activities.

Since I'm not a kid, I needed to figure out what kids might want or need in their daily routine. Time to create a persona. I asked a few friends who study or work in early childhood education for tips on what kids are into these days. Although I think solutions in this area might lean towards younger kids just learning good hygiene habits, I included a larger age range (3-13) at the "problems and opportunities" stage in case some other ideas come from it (a line of sink-related prank products for older kids?).

Persona: Kid

Again, this persona board is more broad than it would be if I were working on a solution, and basically gives an overview of what kids within the age range are into, as well as some products that have been marketed towards those ages.

For my third method of investigation, I thought I'd revisit the more refined concept of daily routine, and storyboard how some of the bug list items fit into the bigger picture.

Sinks Storyboard

I have photos to go with the storyboard that I'll upload as soon as I can get this stupid borrowed digital camera working (i.e., find a card reader because this adapter cord is shot).


I like your visual documentation process in your journal - it is clear, appealing and fun to read, and easy to follow. (I am a little envious - when I do handwritten journal assignments they are much less organized, partly because my handwriting is nowhere near as nice!) The sink-specific bug list was a good idea for a tool, I think.

I am wondering how the kid persona and the "adult" issues you encounter tie together. This isn't necessarily a criticism - most kids use the same sink that their parents and siblings do, and a lot of the same products, so there might be an opportunity for innovation in finding something that works for everybody and is therefore more efficient, money-saving, cheaper to produce since you don't have to make different products for kids and adults, etc.

I also really like your use of illustrations. They are very clear and add a lot to your description that isn't communicated well through words (also a little envious of your sketching ability). Using a bug list specifically for sinks worked well in this situation because it covers using products; in this case on a regular basis which is where bugs are going to be noticed the most.

Your choice of a market segment helped narrow the scope of the problem, but I am curious if kids have the same issues at the bathroom sink as someone our age. I suspect the younger ones have to stand on a stool, tippy toes, or just hang on to the sink with their chin in order to do anything. I myself could use a stool sometimes (not really; just poking fun at my height). I'm sure they have problems getting to things at the back of the sink. Maybe there is an opportunity for creating a kid cabinet that is lower than the sink that can store products frequently used by them or products their parents would like them to frequently use; however, not under the sink with cleaning supplies.

I think utilizing your pinterest account for your kid persona was pretty effective, but I'd like to see a description of the kid. However, Patrick Douglas at Target had a good point about personas not being real people. I do agree with him, but personas still seem to be a pretty important tool for a lot (maybe most, I'm not sure) of companies.

This isn't really any sort of criticism, but I just wanted to point out that some of those LED faucets actually change from red to blue depending on whether the water is hot or cold. I would argue that they are mostly a novelty item except for maybe someone who has no feeling in their hands and can't tell the hot control from the cold or the position of the control. Still, being red or blue is low resolution and it can't represent the difference between hot and warm. I have never used one so I could be totally wrong.

Good job!

You've got a good start at identifying a lot of issues surrounding home sinks. And I'll agree with the above comments that your sketches are very clear and well done. I like the background on the kid persona; collages tend to give a better impression than just listing generic facts, "Billy, six years old, likes Hello Kitty..etc" I don't know. But the next step would be to come back and relate how the persona uses the sink, and the issues they would have. I think it would be helpful to arbitrarily constrain yourself to a very specific topic, such as Billy is too short to brush his teeth in the sink. This is mainly just playing off of the 'design for one' inspiration we got at Target. Just a thought, I'm struggling at narrowing my range as well.

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This page contains a single entry by Taylor Hill published on September 26, 2011 9:03 AM.

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