How do you empathise with users? Brainstorming and Bodystorming

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Everyone knows the concept of brainstorming for ideas. It’s a simple method which most people are taught at a young age, even if incorrectly or not optimally.

But when it comes to bodystorming, this was a completely new concept to me. To understand Bodystorming, we first have to define what it is to brainstorm. According to the Cambridge Dictionary:

(of a group of people) to suggest a lot of ideas for a future activity very quickly before considering some of them more carefully – Source:

So, Brainstorming is the method of coming up with as many ideas as we can before discussing them in depth in order to select one or a few of them to develop into something more.

To successfully brainstorm there are a few elements we need to consider as described by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn in 6 elements of the perfect Brainstorm:

  1. Pick a question or a problem to solve, make sure the prompts are clear and simple
  2. Pick a time and a place to discuss the problem
  3. Encourage discussions and ideas; and do not criticise any ideas no matter how silly they might sound to you.
  4. Set a time limit on how long you should brainstorm for.
  5. Write the ideas down and organise them
  6. Get rid of bad ideas after the session.

So what is bodystorming then?

Bodystorming is slightly different in that is asks you to look at a problem a customer is facing through their shoes. In class we looked at the problem wheelchair users have with getting around the university campus. We found that many of the doors are quite heavy if you are sitting in a chair, and you would often need to get help from someone else in order to complete a task which is otherwise quite easy to complete for most people.

The interesting part of this is that although the task in class was to move to get some water from the water fountain, the hardest tasks were opening doors and getting through them. This showed what a useful tool bodystorming will be in the process of designing our product.

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