Let me just start off by saying if you’ve never participated in an empathy workshop, I urge you to try one. I remember the first time I did (at an AIGA workshop) and not to be dramatic, but it changed my life not just as a designer, but as a human. You hear the term all the time “you’ll never understand until you step into their shoes”, but here you get to and in a positive environment and in a way that gets the creative brain juices flowing.
Within this specific workshop we were to redesign the gift giving/receiving experience, tailored to our partner’s needs. Talking to my peer Karen really allowed me to step into her shoes and see problems outside my own and think about solutions to things I hadn’t even pin pointed as issues; views that we also had in common. During our discussions it became clear that Karen’s biggest struggle was needing a way to know if the gifts she gives are meaningful and useful, so that they will be appreciated, but without taking away the element of surprise.
I ended up coming up with a system that could be an app or website, where she or anyone would fill out a questionnaire about the person receiving the gift. There would be questions that would gather information based on the persons zodiac sign, hobbies, interests, what they do for work, likes, wants, and even experiences they would have on their wish list. Based off of the information provided several “gift-kit” options would be available. All gift kits would have some element of build it yourself/DIY and surprise. Karen could choose a gift-kit that would allow her to make the gift or a kit where the special someone could make it themselves. Allowing the gift to remain personalized to the gift-receiver, making it meaningful, appreciated and allowing there to be an element of surprise. To be honest I struggled in the prototype phase, I ended up creating a prototype of the gift-kit rather than the system that would result in the gift-kit.
Though the great thing about this process is that you have chances to go back get more feedback and even consolidate ideas that your partner would really benefit from.