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Kolko Chapters 5, 6, and Section 3 Essay June 4, 2009

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Chapter5

In the beginning of chapter 5, Kolko offers some of his thoughts about how some technology has gotten its aesthetics.  One way is that technology relies on nature to give it its feel.  For example, not many things in nature are perfectly symmetrical, so some designers purposefully have minor flaws in their shape and feel. Another way is to personify inanimate objects.  This gives the aesthetics of the technology or a product that “begs to be handled.”  The third way to style technology is industrialization, where the aesthesis of the objects feel advanced than they actually are.  An example of this that comes to my mind is body kits that some people choose to put on their cars.  They usually don’t add anything to the performance of the car but they do make the aesthetics of the car look better.  A contrasting view of how to enhance the aesthetics of a technology is the “less is more approach.”  This is where the less styling the better which will allow for a stronger connection between the designer and the customer.

An interesting point for me is the product families.  This is where all the products of a similar brand resemble one another.  Some examples of this that I can think of are the adobe products. Each of them has the same basic feel and style even thought they all do different things.  Kolko then describe how stores like Starbucks and even Apple have started to design their stores in such a way that the customers will first enjoy being at the store and the experience of being in the store and secondly the customer will want to buy the products.  By doing this brand loyalty is created.  One thing that really stood out to me in this chapter is the fact that designers can no longer focus solely on the product, but on the user, the product, and the context of use.

Chapter 6

Products have a dialog with the customers?  That is what Kolko is saying.  The designer designs their product in such a way that it will convince and persuade a customer to not only buy it but also to use it.  At first this did not make sense to me.  The example of how a tape player and a CD player were difficult for to design because the form followed the function because both the players had to be the shape of the tape or CD.  But with the MP3 player, it could look like anything and the design must convince you that it is the correct design for an MP3 player.  Apple succeeded in convincing the customers that the IPod is how an MP3 player is supposed to look, and that is why they dominate in that market.

Another thing that caught my attention is the roller coaster story and how it basically forces the user to be thriller or scared.  This relates to design because you want the audience of your product to be more than a user or viewer of the product, you want them to be actively engaged.  A good example of this is how Nintendo changed the video games so that you don’t always sit and move your fingers.  The Wii made it so you can stand and swing your arms to pitch a baseball or roll a bowling ball.  These games are getting the user to be actively engaged while using the product.

The next few section talk about how it is important to encourage a poetic and resonate interaction design. There are three parts that are necessary to encourage a poetic and resonate design.  They include honesty, mindfulness, and a vivid and refined attention to sensory detail.  So, when designing something, it is good to come up with a product that is engaging, appropriately complicated to the given task in order to encourage a mindful state, and highly sensory.

Contributed essay by Uday Gajendar, Cisco

In his essay, Gajendar describes his experiences with creating products that need to speak to the user.  He tries to create a dialog between the user and the design to understand its meaning and consequence, supporting the user’s expectations and goals. He then mentions some of the core elements that his designs try to achieve with regards to interactions.  They are control, feedback, productivity, co-creativity, communication, and adaptivity.  I believe these are important because as chapter 6 described it is important to have the user actively engaged.  This list allows people to check to make sure that their design is truly interactive.

Gajendar then brings up something that was talked about in the book for week 1’s reading.  This is using metaphors for design.  I remember taking an interest to these metaphors and blogging about them in week 1.  The metaphor that Gajendar mentions is the desktop interface as well as a dashboard interface that has real time performance metrics.  In today’s design activity, our group tried to make a metaphor of a book for an e reader.   The e reader had the exact two page layout of a book, and would feel like a book in that you have to actually flip or turn the page.  So far in my limited design experience I have always returned to metaphors of real life actions to help me design things.

Week 3 Reading May 27, 2009

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In Chapter 3, memory and metaphors were the main topic of discussion. As defined in this chapter, memory “involves recalling various kinds of knowledge that allow us to act appropriately”. This is an vital concept to understand as designers, because it emphasizes the importance of understanding our users and spending a lot of time in the early stages of development to best understand what our clients need to accomplish.

When thinking about the design process, the book listed some things we need to keep in mind in order to consider better how people store and recall memories, and how they put them to use when interacting with our designs. Such examples are to keep the length of speech-based menus to a minimum. It can be very difficult for people to remember verbal instructions for an extended period of time. I experienced this when my grandmother bought her first computer. She bought a new printer that came with special photo editing software, and the informational disc that came along with it to teach her how to use it, used mainly voice instruction. She found this very fast-paced and confusing and therefore I ended up having to teach her how to use the software. Another example the book listed to assist with creating the most human-friendly designs was to provide the option of larger text on a screen. This is another example I have experienced with my father. He recently purchased an iPhone, and I don’t think there has been a page yet that he has looked at where he hasn’t had to use the zoom feature. Thankfully, the iPhone’s zoom feature is very easy for him to use, and therefore browsing on his phone has not yet been a problem. But other people like him who have impaired vision could be in trouble if they try to utilize the same browsing capabilities with a device that doesn’t allow for such easy zooming.

The other major concept in this chapter was the use of metaphors and analogies. Especially in this time period, when technology is constantly evolving and there are still many people who aren’t familiar with computing devices, using terms and ideas that the user is already familiar with can ease the use and understanding of these concepts. As the author says, “Information is thought to enter and exit the mind through a series of ordered processing stages”. Using ideas that the user already knows and can easily recall in their memory can help them step-by-step to learn and understand these new tools that can be essential to their every day living.

In the Harper reading, the main focus seemed to be the development of ubiquitous computing as we move towards the year 2020. He began by making us as readers consider how developments in technology will affect us. While all this new technology provides us with great tools and innovative capabilities for accomplishing every day tasks, these powers can be used for evil just as easily as for good.

As we move towards the year 2020, there continues to be a growing diversity of interaction types. Harper refers to the idea of paper as becoming practically obsolete. One example of this in my own life is registering for college courses and viewing test grades. My parents went to IU, and they tell me stories of how they remember standing in long lines to register for classes every semester, and having to return to the site of their tests to view their scores. Today, I don’t even have to leave my room to do either of those things. Everything is becoming digital, and this trend will continue to grow in the years to come.

Another point that Harper wrote about that I found interesting was when he referred to mobile phones as “Handsets to the World”. This is so true, as the invention of the iPhone has shown us, there isn’t much on a technological level that our phones can’t get in touch with. We can accomplish almost any internet task in the palm of our hands, and can also communicate with others faster and in more ways than ever. Harper emphasized the importance humans place on communication. With the growing popularity of Twitter and Facebook, it is obvious to see that we demand the ability to stay in touch with others and remain in constant communication with the world. As we move towards 2020, the demands will grow and more information will be demanded at ever-accelerating speeds.

Harper’s reading made me think a great deal about the endless possibilities of technology, and the good and bad it could bring us in the future. It is definitely an idea that needs to be introduced to everyone, and can be considered as a great achievement as long as we take precautions and use it as safely as possible.