Interactive Media II Blog Post III

IKEA

ikea

What I love most about Ikea products is that they are so easy to assemble. The pieces are very simple and are designed as a series of geometric shapes, so that it is almost like using Legos or building blocks like we used as kids.

I think it’s genius how the designers of Ikea products have been able to tap into this child-like intuition regarding basic skill and concept. Their products require no tools, and each product comes as a complete system. This makes Ikea products extremely user friendly.

In addition, Ikea products are also very simple in color. They do not overwhelm consumers with elaborate and intricate patterns, but use a basic color palette, usually in neutral hues. This also contributes to making their products accessible to a larger market.

UBER

uber

Uber has great visual aesthetics. It feels rich and trendy, and makes a customer feel cool if they have this app. Even the name sounds hip. However, I have found a few complications when using Uber. First of all, it has an extremely slow server response time. I’m not sure if this is due to my Internet connection, but every time I attempt to load Uber, it takes like a minute of staring at this growing circle. At first I wasn’t’ sure if I was supposed to touch it, and kept poking at the growing circle on my phone. Finally, I was taken to the home page, but I wasn’t sure if it was due to my poking the circle, or the page had finally loaded. (I realized the second time I went to open the app, the circle is just indicating the application is in the process of loading…).

Another problem I had when using Uber was that I couldn’t figure out how to change my location once the “pin” dropped. Because of this I ended up having to find a way to get a hold of my driver directly to let him know of my actual location. This ended up costing me an extra five dollars. I wish there was an option to manually input the pick up location so that I could ensure the correct address.

Overall though, I find this application to be very straight forward and easy to use. I like that Uber shows a photo of the driver, along with their name and vehicle. This makes the user feel a lot safer, and the ride a lot more personal. I also like that there are not a lot of screens to click through to get a ride. Once you open the application it goes directly to the request screen.

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Interactive Media II Blog Post II

THE MICROWAVE

microwave

I find the most difficult appliance to understand is the microwave. All microwaves have different command sequences to achieve a required result, and unless you read the manual, the sequences are not always obvious. The first microwave I owned, you had to press “1”, “start”, cooking time, “start”, to get the microwave to work. The next microwave I had you could just press “1”, for a cooking time of one minute.

Microwave buttons are not universal and make operating them difficult, especially if you are accustomed to a specific microwave sequence. There should be a standard operation sequence for microwaves that eliminates complicated and unnecessary button presses. However, like most people, I solve this problem by simply pressing buttons until I can at least get the microwave to start.

WORDBRAIN

WordBrain

I am obsessed with this game on my phone called WordBrain. It is kind of like a word search, but for specific words previously decided for you. The game is set up as a series of lettered blocks, and the combination of blocks get larger as you complete each level.

The format of this game is very well done. The first thing the game does is explain how to play, with a short demo, then leads you into the first level. The screen with the levels shows up, and allows you to see how many levels are there, and which ones you have already completed, or are currently working on. You then select which level you want to play and begin the game. Each level has an animal name, and a cute icon associated with it.

Everything is very clear and concise, and there are no pop-ups or ads you have to click out of. The color palette is consistent throughout, and does a good job of highlighting what is available for clicking, and what is important for the user to click to achieve a desired result.

Just A Thought About Choices

What is it about what we choose, and why do we choose it? Why are we so afraid of squares, but open to circles? Think about getting a package in the mail. We are so frightened that it means bad things. Think about fish in a tank. They are happiest in a round place. We are afraid of areas that have multiple openings. Multiple places of escape and entry. In a circular place there are two openings. The top and bottom. The rest is free. We only have to worry about two locations. In a square we have to worry about every corner. Each vertex is an arena of entry; a location where water can leak, an opening where outside forces can penetrate. Vertices create tension. Think about how the world is a sphere. It is endless. We are only free above and below, heaven or hell. There is no other sides or corners of life to fear. Just the end or the beginning. Just two. Not more.

When objects are rounded they comfort us. Apps on a phone have rounded edges, not sharp points. Pillows, doorknobs, fingertips, facial features, bones…these rounded objects don’t indicate fear. A witches pointed nose, a knife, a blade, an edge, a cliff, pointed teeth…these signal fear. We are preconditioned to feel comforted by rounded objects, intrigued and feared by sharpers ones, and confused by the combination of the two. How does this information figure into our day-to-day decisions? How does this factor into our choice about products?

Unsuccessful Branding

Unfortunately, the company I am choosing to write about for my blog entry on poor branding, is the company I work for; Fitness 19. Fitness 19 is an affordable chain of gyms and their branding is stale and outdated. Their gym name is their logo, and their branding colors are red, black, white and grey. The logo does not do anything aesthetically to draw in the viewer or entice potential customer. It has an uppercase initial letter, and then the rest of the name is in small caps. There is also a 19 in a circle at the end, which does not seem to have any relevance to the gym itself, or fitness, and underneath the word fitness is a strange stretched rectangle-like shape.

There does not seem to be a clear brand identity, and there is nothing inventive or unique to their logo. However, I do think it was smart of the company to choose red for their signature brand color. Red signifies power, physical activity, and energy; all adjectives which describe fitness and going to the gym.

fitness19_logo

Interactive Media II Post I

One device I have always had a unique user experience with is the Xfinity remote control. The remote control is color coordinated, using red for the most commonly used controls, white for the second most used controls, dark grey for the next most used controls, and black for the least used controls. However, the icons on the remote are not intuitive to a first time user. In order to activate the controls for the correct device, the user has to first select at the top of the remote the device they are using. Then the controls, but only the ones that are specifically for said device, will activate. When in a specified device mode, other controls will not work on the device. For example, the arrow keys in the middle of the remote, which you would think would be used for directional purposes in any mode, are only for the “TV” mode, and are not active in “AUX” mode. In addition, controls such as volume, cannot be used in “AUX” mode. One thing that the design of the remote does do to accommodate this though, is have the mode button light up to indicate which mode you need to be in, in order to use that control.

remote

On my phone, I have always struggled with the application Instagram. For the longest time, I didn’t understand how to upload a picture, and what it meant to create a “filter.” There is no “homepage,” that provides an anchor point for the user, and if you are not familiar with Twitter, the #words, would be unclear as to why they are a different color and what the purpose of the link is. The icons located at the base of the page are extremely simple, and yet not self-explanatory to a first time user. The site itself is very easy to navigate and provides direct click-through, but there is nothing aesthetically innovative about its design.

instagram

Branding Across Multiple Platforms

One of my favorite new companies is Krista’s Baking Company. She is a Seattle based entrepreneur that sells pre-packaged, artisan, DIY baked goods. Her products can be found at: http://www.kristasbakingco.com. What I love most about her company is the way she has branded her goods. I like the simplicity of the design, and that she has a clear color pallet that shows through even in the photographs she chooses to use. Her company feels fresh, due to the simple design aesthetic that emphasizes the use of white space, yet there is a complexity in her choice of design concepts. She combines both serif and san-serif fonts in her companies name, and uses an overlapping a symbol that makes her companies entire name a logo in itself.

There are a few things I think she could improve, such as overuse of centered type, and several orphans I found while exploring her website. However, knowing that she has no formal design training, overall, I think the design aesthetic of the brand she has developed is very appealing to a large audience, and she has done a good job of honing in on her target audience; a more high-end, trendy, environmentally conscientious consumer.

Here are some photographs from her website of her brand used several ways: in packaging, on clothing, and in photographs of herself baking.

krista Krista_1 Krista_3 Krista_4 Krista_5

Web and Interactivity

Summary

The Internet has forever changed the way information is consumed and shared. In today’s world, everyone has access to the Internet and it is a place where anything from shopping to education can be done. This new realm of connectivity and interaction has therefor ushered in a new arena for designing. No longer are audiences restricted to the limitations of print, but can have a multidimensional experience by connecting with a companies website.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the foundation of a good website is still a good design. While the Internet provides a way for audience interaction, the functionality and overall structure has to be based on the principles of design. A website with all the bells and whistles but that is not graphically appealing, will not elicit a positive viewer response.

Besides sticking to fundamental design principles, research has also been done on the kind of visuals that are applicable for the different kinds of websites. For example, an editorial structure needs to be easily read, so the layout usually echo’s styles common to printed publication design. Whatever the target audience is, it is important to keep web design as simple as possible, and to make clear how the viewer can operate the site with limited instruction.

With all of the information that needs to be translated into the virtual world, the best way to begin designing a website is to do flow charts and comps of the different website pages. Wireframes are the most useful way to start developing a layout.

Article

http://www.uxbooth.com/articles/where-ux-comes-from/

User Experience dates all the back to the early 19th and 20th centuries. Although it is a term used in modern vernacular to refer to a field of design, its origins can actually be traced back to the machine age.

The machine age was a time of pioneering new ways to make human labor more efficient, productive and routine. People like Frederick Winslow Taylor, and Henry Ford, sought to increase the efficiency of interactions between workers and their tools. Then, with the eruption up WWI and WWII, a new body of research emerged that focused on how to best design equipment and devices to align with human capabilities.

As science and industry gained momentum, more focus was paid to the purpose of interactions between product and audience. Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss wrote Designing for People, a classic design text that put people first. In his book, Dreyfuss described successful design as one that made people “safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient—or just plain happier—“ At the same time cognitive science was emerging as a field of study that combined human cognition with concepts such as artificial and machine intelligence. These cognitive scientists were interested in the potential of computers to serve as a tool to augment human mental capacities.

However, it wasn’t until 1990 that the term UX was actually used by a design professional to describe his profession. This man was Donald Norman. Norman was a cognitive psychologist that joined Apple and described his position there as a User Experience Architect. According to Norman, he chose that title because he thought Human Interface and usability were too narrow. He wanted to cover all aspects of a person’s experience with a system; this included industrial design, graphics, the interface, and the physical interaction.

Images