Sharifa’s Workstation, Phase 2 – 5

Our team has been visiting Sharifa weekly to user test, gather feedback, make adjustments, and take measurements. We’ve been using the human-centered design methodology which I will break down into phases below:

Phase 2: Ideation

After meeting with Sharifa and observing her using her laptop and blanket setup, we began brainstorming ideas for what to incorporate into her workstation.

  • Lap desk style
  • Side table style
  • Table on wheels that rolls over her bed on either sides
  • Adjustable height
  • Adjustable armrest length
  • Thin
  • Collapsible for travel
  • 180 work space
  • No electricity because of the heat
  • Perfect size is size of too laptops next to each other
  • Something soft, no fabric allergies
  • Something washable, wipeable
  • No pressure on lap or belly, doesn’t rest on lap
  • Support and pressure should be on her sides

Phase 3: Rapid Prototyping

We began using scrap cardboard to ensure the measurements we took will work for Sharifa.

Optimal elbow height: 18.5 cm
Elbow to wrist: 24 cm
Shoulder to elbow: 32 cm
Outer elbow to outer elbow (over torso): 70 cm
Inner elbow to inner elbow (over torso): 52.5 cm
The depth from torso to leg: 40 cm
Hip to hip: 52.5 cm
Hip height: 15 cm

We attended an E-Lab prototyping session and left with some best practices:

“A prototype is a question, embodied” – Diego Rodriguez, IDEO

Prototype: an expression of an idea that tests or explores assumptions

  1. Physical prototypes
  2. “Work-like” prototypes
  3.  “Look-like” prototypes

Why prototype?
Fail safely (and early)
Get user feedback
To collaborate and co-design
To learn what we don’t know
Test assumptions

How to do it?

  • Rough

– Inspire

        • Embrace fail
        • Build to think
        • Low fidelity


        • Expect changes
        • Experiment
        • Targeted models


        • Manage changes
        • Build to spec
        • Integrated models

Go from prototype driven specs –> spec driven prototypes

Don’t get married to your prototype, so test fast and test early

Phase 4: User Feedback

We tested on Nov 2, 2018.

Here is the user test script we used.

Sharifa using the cardboard prototype in bed with smartphone Sharifa with hands resting on cardboard workstation in bed Bird's eye view of Sharifa with workstation made of cardboard in bed Sharifa with her laptop using the cardboard workstation in bed

The feedback centered mainly around measurements and how they desk would fit her arms and her laptop. When the thought of a higher table to allow her to eat more independently came up, it was clear that it need to be explored.

We also got some fabrication advice/notes from Ben Light:

  • Door slides
    Drawer slides
    Various weights, stop, slow release non slam
    Online or Home Depot
  • Solid connection
  • Plastic
  • Not wipeable yet
  • Laminate or Formica finish
  • Plywood for next prototype
    Rounding all corners
  • Sliding tray should be cafeteria tray or plastic or is a tray that slots in. A moving platform and the computer snaps in and the meal tray snaps in
  • Leg to holder to slider is one robust piece but the table tops are lighter
  • Triangles are strong
  • Cardboard one more time- durable, everything for the next prototype, get all the shapes right and height

We sketched up what the new prototype would look like after reviewing the consolidated feedback.

Sketch of the desk and measurements

Phase 5: Iteration

The team, now, just needs to continue the iterative process of user testing, getting feedback, and making adjustments to the prototype. We user tested again on Nov 18, 2018.

Ariel holding up the raised table above the workstation Sharifa in bed using her laptop on a foam prototype of the workstation Holding the raised platform used for eating above Sharifa's laptop Sharifa showing her laptop on the workstation with how she might arrange her pencil and paper

We recorded audio of the test, which you can check out here.

Sharifa’s feedback from this iteration:

  1. We need a stopper on the outside of each arm to keep her elbows from slipping off the sides and hold them in place
  2. The legs broke off so we need a stronger material that can take some weight to user test next time, maybe wood and screws
  3. She prefers her laptop, she’s nixing the new keyboard and trackpad
  4. She likes it at the level she usually uses it at
  5. The elevated tray would be for food only
    1. Maybe something that snaps on when the computer is removed for eating
    2. No cup holder
  6. Grippy material on desk AND tray to hold pencil, notepad, plates, forks, etc.

Phase 5 continues as the next user test will be on Nov 30, 2018!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *