From a banker to a six year old

Complexity of interaction design

When carrying out contextual inquiry for interpretive planning, doing fact findings and analysis, one can focus on literature about previous research and use other people’s findings in order to create an interactive design explaining these insights. When talking about human behavious and topics which are subject to many opinions, one might easily get lost in scientifically written explanations of emotional and attitudinal perspectives.

As a creator of interactive experiences explaining these matters one must fully understand the emotional and subjective context of the topic. In order to gain this insight we perform qualitative design research with a selected group of people who are passionate about the topic because of personal interest or experience; experts from a variety of perspectives.

Gagarin has taken on a project to increase the financial literacy of Icelandic people, a topic that involves all things concerning personal finance as well as the mechanics of economy at large, a topic that might seem almost insurmountable in its vastness.

These cases are the ones we have to turn to these experts to gain clarity, direction and understanding. However sometimes, as in the case of financial literacy, there are truths. It occurred to us that we need to expose ourselves to a portfolio of perspectives to be able to grasp the wide range of the field.

We employed workshop techniques that are designed to capture the plentiful texture of the object of design but also to nudge experts out of their comfort zone to get them to re-examine their perspectives.

Central to our task was to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and actions of people in general. We chose to work with the topic of metaphors to create a common ground. Gathering a variety of points of view that then were to be negotiated, diverged and transformed, turned out to be an innovative way to present their individual efficacy back to the group.


To be able to gauge, and see the efficacy of the metaphor each participant was asked to build a model of it. This was modeled upon an invention from the future, thereby releasing it from being bound to current technologies

It was the tool with which financial literacy could be achieved and the global problems deriving from its absence decreased.The result was striking because it very effectively illustrated what the participants thought was the problem and where they thought solutions might lie.

This approach was preferred over mere discussions of the problems and its solutions. When asking people a theoretical question they will answer it with abstractions. But when asking people to create something as an answer to a question, the outcome or the solution that will be created and then explained, can give answers to questions that you could never really have asked.
The overall objective of this whole process is of course to create an exhibition that is accessible to everyone, with different sensitivities to the subjects at hand.

It is important in the process of interpretation to be humble towards this point to not alienate people on the basis of for example prior knowledge. This is something we always strive for at Gagarin and a central part of our design approach.

Created 02 March 2016