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Kolko Ch. 5 and 6 and Section 3 Essay June 4, 2009

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Chapter 5

This chapter talks about using aesthetics to inform experience.  It lists specific trends that Interaction Designers tend to follow.  However, the chapter begins and ends with the phrase, “Interaction design should be desirable … regardless of the medium chosen to visualize a solution.”  It’s interesting that the chapter begins and ends with this statements, but it also makes sense based on the overall topic of the chapter.  This chapter discusses trends that Interaction Designers follow, and they are as follows:  aesthetic relationships between nature and technology, where the example is of burrs and Velcro.  They look at nature and try to imitate it.   The second trend is visual form language creates product families, which is a way of thinking about groups of products in a static setting.  Interaction Designers work with graphic designers to establish consistent sizes, placement, shapes, colors, etc.   The third trend is the role of brand in visual families.   Brand experience is a vital component of product development.  Money is spent on raising brand awareness and not just focused on the sale of the product, which is interesting because one would think that the company would want to spend their money on selling the product, but if that brand is not out there and people don’t know about it, it is difficult to sell that product.  The fourth and final trend is moving from artifacts to experiences.  Aesthetic and experience closely because it is important to understand the structures of experience with artifacts.  Experience itself occurs during consciousness and has a beginning, middle, and end, while experience as a story is used to transmit, condense, and reflect on an experience.

Chapter 6

This chapter is about interaction design and communication.  Design can be thought of as a form of communication, according to the chapter.  A product attempts to convince.  The idea is to make the product come alive through communication of the product.  Product form language is the basis for how people generate and interpret their surroundings.   When viewed under the cover of language, these products become the fabric of society, and allow people to express themselves, communicate with others, and shape their environment in some way.    Some designers find the emphasis on styling and visual aesthetics to be superficial.   They believe that the designers offer intellectual contribution and the aesthetics and styling are only what captures the audience.

Section 3 Essay

This essay describes the relationship between the user and the “other”: a device, service, system, or even possibly a desginer.  If something is labeled interactive, it is modern and very marketable.  This is based on public perception because it’s not something that existed before.  Language is about meaning, the creation, and the delivery of linguistic value.  It is used to identify, qualify, characterize.  Metaphors are “ways of interpreting our daily world with previously experienced and known relationships/associations to enhance the meaning, and acheive a shared understaning,” according to Lakoff and Johnson.   For interaction to make sense, it needs language to communicate.  The meaning behind language lies in communication.

All of these readings talk about aesthetics of design.  Based on what I’ve heard in class or what I’ve read outside of class, aesthetics is a key component to design.  People are going to buy something that is physically appealing to them instead of something they don’t like.  However, when a designer is considering a design, they have to consider usability as well.  Aesthetics has to somewhat take a backseat to the technology itself, in terms of usability, etc, because if the product looks pretty but doesn’t work, that does not constitute a well thought out design and people will return it or spread the word aboutthat product and it won’t sell.  Aesthetics are important, but not the most important thing when designing a product.


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

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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.

Kolko and Buxton Readings May 21, 2009

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The Kolko reading dealt more with interaction design, while the Buxton readings were about sketching, the role of design, and the creation of products that are similar to other products on the market.  Kolko explains interaction design as being the center of several worlds including industrial design, engineering, psychology, art, and business strategy, which are all crucial to the design process.  Interaction designers must speak many different languages because of the diversity within organizations and the fact that design is outsourcing because of cost.   One thing that interaction designers ahve to take into account is that there are real people using the products they are designing and creating.  However, engineers designed the software for the functionality of the business, not for the users of the software.  But that creates a proble because many people probably did not actually know how to use the software.

The point of the IPod part of the Buxton reading was that a company wanted to design a product similar to the IPod, but the person who was asked was not sure how to do that, so he asked a friend for help.  The people creating or designing a product need to be on the same page with each other for the product to turn out the way they thought it up.

The role of design section talks about thinking up a new product and sending it to the engineering team to start building it.  In the prototype phase, some models are indistinguishable from the real things.  If the project does get the green light, it takes about a year of engineering before it will even begin the production phase.  The fastest most efficient path is never a straight line because that’s when the product become average.  If the designers only look at one design idea and follow that the whole way, it might not turn out to be the best design because they didn’t pull anything from outside the design idea.  One thing that caught my eye was that Buxton said that if you build what you set out to build, if it’s the wrong product, it’s still a failure.  It might be csidered a failure, but whoever set the constraints for the project, either didn’t understand what they should have been building or something else went wrong in the process.

The final part was about sketches.  Sketches do not need to be super detailed, rather they need to be raw.  They need to get the point across with as little detail as possible, so as to not take too much time, but so that someone else can interpret it the way it is supposed to be interpretted.  Sketches, however, are not just about the phsycial aspects, but about the fundamental aspects as well.