Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pigford: Extra credit

Andrew Zahn

Pigford: Installation

            I found her installations smart and informed, as well as simple and fun. The first piece consisted of one computer hard drive triggered by a motion sensor. When I approached the piece, the HD started to spin. I felt the wind produced by it on my face. I feel this installation as about humans interacting and using information. It could have been improved if it sensed how long you stood in front of it and maybe spun faster the longer you stand in front of it.

            The second piece consisted of several dozen computer HD’s, all spinning at different rates and times. This was also triggered by a low cost motion sensor. When no one is in the gallery space, the piece goes silent. The clacking sounds begin as you step into the space, and more and more HD’s are triggered as you walk near the piece. This piece could be improved with more specific sensing through a more sophisticated motion sensor (maybe an ultrasonic sensor). This piece was also about the information age, but it better conveyed the idea of multiple layers of information and large numbers of users in society using high tech memory and storage.

            The final piece was a sound piece. It consisted of about a dozen wooden mallets triggered by a single push button. A single press triggered a short sequence of mallets playing. The longer I pressed the button, the long the sequence, and more complicated the pattern. I felt that the user would be better served if they were to press the button once and only one mallet triggered. This way the user could discover the patterns more slowly. Or if the user was able program their own sequence with a record function, it would improve the interactivity of the piece.




Final: See DVD

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Learning log 6:B Future of Design

They speak about "SPIME" objects, they define them as, "Networked, context aware, self monitoring, and self documenting." Wearables - sensor heavy technology that we bring with us wherever we are. Soon, this type of technology is be so integrated into our society that we will  no longer notice them. This is part of what they define as "UBICOMP" - Ubiquitous computing that is EVERYWHERE. Everything (almost) will have this feature, a networked society that is self-aware and intelligent. 
I hope to live long enough to see they day that a computer is almost a clone of the human brain... This time is coming - Ray Kurzweil calls this "The Singularity" - the moment that machines become self-aware. 

Learning log 6:A Future of Design

I found interesting how they speak about computer moving from behind monitors to all around us. I have always been fascinated with future technology and the way our society is adapting with it. The reading talks about robots preforming tasks that humans preform normally. Also about artificial intelligence. I am a big fan of Ray Kurzweil, and the inevitable merger of humans and robots. As he predicts, we will eventually merge into one, indistinguishable entity. This is what they are getting at in the reading. 
All areas of our lives are changing at a rapid, accelerating rate, due to technology. The IPHONE, and other portable, wireless technology is proof that this is coming faster than we previously thought. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LEARNING LOG 5:2. Situated Types

I loved this reading, connecting a global community with technology has always fascinated me. Here they talk about digital communications being used to share ideas through a global network. Touch screen technology,  surveillance, etc.. are elements that bring the word together in a kind of global cafe. 
But non-digital forms of meeting is also a topic. Weather it be in a cafe, bar, mall, at home, or in a workspace, we can gather and share ideas. 
Overall this reading talks about where we gather and what the space in used for. For example, right now, I am typing this blog entry in a cafe off Rittenhouse square. There are other people working on laptops, reading, talking, or writing. This is a type of space for information sharing a meeting.


As I sit here and read and write - it directly relates to the reading. Overall, this is about how humans function in different space, and how we use those spaces, either real or virtual.

LEARNING LOG 5: Service Design

I found that all of the variables of service design interesting. I don't normally think about how many factors go into a "Service". All of the intangible elements and time related fluctuations that account for a service are things that one would not normally think about. 
How the environment itself also creates affordances is interesting. This seems to me to be a crucial element that is often overlooked. The easier, more simple, and using less thinking to navigate through the environment all play a part in how we view and use that space. Research and analyzing the space before deciding on the final design is important:

Taking photographs, video, mapping all play a role in this research. Looking at all of these elements as a whole are good indicators of what can be done with that service space.
Designers must look at all the "Touchpoints" to make informed decisions: 

. Physical locations

. Specific parts of locations

. Signage

. Objects

. Web sites

. Mailings (e-mail and regular)

. Spoken communication

. Printed communications (receipts, maps, tickets, and so on)

. Applications

. Machinery

. Customer service

. Partners

All of these elments can come into play - It seems that service design can be more varied and in depth than one might think off the bat.

Also, something else that stuck out to me was the role-playing that goes into designing a service; ie, acting out and putting yourself into the role of a customer can be very important in making decisions about how that service will function.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 7 Log: Refinement

This refinement refers to the constraints of time, money, and resources. As well as knowledge. This chapter gets more in depth with how the process of design works. It starts with an idea a research. Then the work flow comes into play. The physical constrains, ie; materials, etc.. affect the process as well as the end product. Speaking in terms of physical controls, we deal with buttons, dials, switches, latches, and motors, ect... Digitally, we speak in terms of scroll bars, drop down menus, check boxes, ect... More advanced interfaces include, Voice, gesture, and presence. 
It can be very fun to design products or interfaces that use many or all of these elements. This chapter really got me thinking about project that I might want to work on in the future. 
Choosing the right elements to give the user the right feedback and affordance can be the creative part. But this can also give new uses for a product when a mistake is made during the design process. A mental model is great, but if a product does not do what we want it to do than the process can be a waste of time. Using research as well as storyboards, and web charts can be a clear way to get the process started. Once we decide to go in a certain direction, the design process starts. Employing all these design factors can make the process much faster and cleaner.

Week 7 Log: Design Research

Research is always a tool that I employ when I design something. It is important to see first what has been successful from past designs first, to make decisions on what I am designing. If I choose to design a web site, I first look at similar sites. While at Pratt Institute, I took a class called "Directed Research." This was exactly what we did in the class. Interviewing, shadowing, and looking, BEFORE designing. But also brainstorming and ideation were important factors that we used to come up with the final design. As it says in the reading, it is rare to find someone that does not have to do research on a subject before delving into it. 
When designing a product for a client, we would first follow them around for an entire day. The assignment was to design something that would improve their life. To do that, we would follow them in their daily activities and document this with photos, video, text ect.. As well as interviewing them and asking many questions. 
I often would think that I would know right off the bat what I wanted to design, but with just a little research, the design would only grow in its success and power. By immersing oneself in subject matter, we only learn more of what is needed and what is not.
Here is an example of a product I designed for a "Client": It was called "Fruity Pillow".  A series of biomorphic pillows that I actually designed and built myslelf. But before doing this, I also had to research HOW to build it. Employing the fashion department and a friend of mine to shwo me the process of sewing and designing a stuffed pillow:

The pillows in action

The pillows by themselves. 
My client was a painter that would do most of her work in her living space and would hang out with friends in the process. The idea was to make portable, modular, functional, and beautiful surfaces that she could use to accommodate herself and her friends while collaborating. 

Week 6 Log: Example of Color

The following are two examples of color. One is a very good use, the other is a failure:

This first site uses color in two very good ways. For one, it choose to use good organic contrasting colors that relate directly to the "Natural" or "organic" aspect of the site. Using a deep red and a vegetable green were good choices for the main image. As well as incorporating well photographed images overlaid over the woody background. It give a natural feel, while not making all of the colors the same, boring tone. This design can be seen as well thought out as well as making good use of contrasting and organic tones.

The second site dubs itself as the "Worst site in the world". It succeeds in doing this, with its horrible use of clashing colors and terrible layout:

The most terrible site in the world. The coral green against the puke orange background can only be described as atrocious. The dotted background and unclear use of colored links makes it very worse. 
SO, as we can see color can be used to both make a site beautiful and functional.

Week 6 Log: Uses of Color

Color can be used in both a design sense and as a means to show importance. It is more complicated than first thought. It can affect both phycological and physical areas of design. But as the reading say, the main problem is that it is UNDERUSED. I believe that people tend to underuse color because they DO NOT KNOW HOW. It can be complicated and requirer MUCH TRAINING and TALENT. Though, it CAN be taught. Deciding what colors go well with each other and what emotional impact they have is not a random act. It takes high levels of skill and time. I will show two examples of color in my next post. 
Color can be a universal object, but also a culturally specific one. As the web grows through every culture and aspect of the world, we will see cultural lines broken down, and a more universal one forming. Globalization and interconnectivity will help bridge the gap. For example, in some cultures RED mean stop. In others, it means GO! Nature tends to be a jumoing off point. Green can be though of a a universal color for the earth, but in some areas, brown might be what is thought of - for exmaple in desert regions. Blue can be though of a the sky- but for cultures living by the sea, it can be seen as the land itself.

Week 5 Log 2: Designing a better billboard

When looking at how we can make a site more usable, we can think of it for several different areas; Standardizing, grouping, feedback, and minimal-ization (My own made up word). When making something standard, we think of other sites that work and make sense for the user. Conventions that we see over a wide range of successful web sites. In grouping, we talk about breaking up a page into areas that have a similar subject matter. Users can then think less about where everything is, and more about what the material that they are looking at is saying. Furthermore, using feedback is making the site interactive, or making it easy for the user to navigate through the site. Finally, minimizing the noise, is to make the site minimal and clean. Getting rid of superfluous information. Using color, sound, and movment can be good ways to help the user navigate through a site. This can give the user feedback as to the flow of information.
I will show a good example of what is meant by this: is a good example of a well thought out design. The hierarchy is clear and the design is minimal. What is clickable is animated and changes when the mouse is moved over it. Also, the noise level is almost at zero, only what needs to be shown is shown.

Week 5 Log 1: How we really use the web

What I find interesting about this reading is how our brain only sees what we want to see. Seeking out the information that we are looking for is a process of fast elimination. Scanning through a web page for what we are seeking can be done much faster and more easily when the hierarchy is clear and the noise level is low. It tends to be a problem of both design and what the designer thinks the user is actually looking at the page for. People tend to scan and only see what they want to. 
Having a clear hierarchy can help; ie, when a page is designed to have the most general and important information large, and on the top of the page. Also, the noise level is all the superfluous design elements and text that need not be placed all on the same page. To quote for the reading, "I think the answer is simple: If your audience is going to act like you're designing billboards, then design great billboards." - I think that the author is basically saying to dumb it down for web users. But I don't believe that the web is a place for that. The web is much deeper than that, and to say that one must dumb down design is to lower expectations for the web, the designer and the user. Maybe this means a new type of design thought process - To re-think how we design for the web. New technologies and interface will make this possible, as we move forward to the future of technology as a means of communication. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Web SIte RE- Design

I decided to redesign "Project Rescue" a non profit site. Here are screen shots of before and after. As well as "Mana Food Bank", a site that I though was designed well. 
The main problem with the Project Rescue site was that it seemed cluttered and not clean. I decided to redesign it using a minimal and easy to read format.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week 4 Log 2

Designers are often fussy and do not take kindly to criticism. As in Frank Lloyd Wright- "...called Wright to say that his roof was leaking all over a dinner guest, the architect is said to have responded, 'Tell him to move his chair.'"  The problem is often that they are more interested in making something look good rather than function. I am very aware of this problem, as I used to be an Industrial Design major. But I remember that when people would design something that would function properly that in itself was beautiful. It seems that in design, often less is more. 
The three main reasons that designer often fail are, they put aesthetics first, they are not the typical user of the object, and the client that they are designing for may not be the actual user of the product. While the look of an object is very important, the function is just as important. When designing for someone, they often don't exactly know what they want themselves. Designers are not mind readers. Communication is the most important aspect of any design collaboration. 

Week 4 Log 1

I found the structure levels very interesting- IE - Wide structure, shallow, and narrow. I play chess and never thought of all the possible combinations that could be imagined. Deep structure is a vast decision tree of possibilities. The counter move of one player always alters the next possible number of combinations, and so on... DOET describes this as, "... a vast, spreading network of possibilities..." It is true that everyday activities don't require this kind of complex decision making.
 This is where a menu at a restaurant comes in. It can be described as a shallow structure. This is because the possible number of decisions is much smaller. I sometimes find myself looking at a menu for a long time - I have trouble making decisions. But in chess - it seems that I make the next move fairly quickly, almost on instinct. 
The lowest on the levels is a narrow structure, like a recipe in a cookbook. Though there may be many steps, the possible deviation from the recipe is very small. 
It is as if the brain needs to work faster when engaged in deep or wide structure decision making. I believe this is why the creative process often uses deep structure - This is why it can be described as "creative" and is usually not boring. 

Week 4 Log 1

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 3 Learning Log: WHAT?

Constraints are the main point here in chapter four. Physical, semantic, cultural and logical. Physical are just a given - will this object fit through this hole? Semantic are conventions that should be followed by the user - in order to use the object. Cultural are dependent on the region or area where you might be. These can be the root of many problems. Misinterpretations and confusion are associated with cultural constraints. Logical constraints are the understood conventions for an object, etc... It depends on the layout or mapping of the object. It should be easily understood. 
Switches and controls on an audio mixing board can be easily understood but must be labeled for the user to control the surface accurately. There are bad examples of switch design also. The feedback of an object is important to understand also. The visibility has also to do with this. TBC... See next post

Week 3 Learning Log:

The last post was from week 3 not 2

Week 2 Learning Log: In the head

Knowledge and adaptability are two different things. In "The Design of Everyday Things" in chapter three, Norman talks about typing on a keyboard- I was not taught formally to type on a keyboard - I was a "hunt and peck" typist. I learned over time, though to type faster and faster. I can almost type fully without looking at the keyboard. I only learned this through a process of learning and almost through a process of elimination. This is know as procedural knowledge. - It hard or impossible to teach - it must be learned.
Its also funny to look at the diagram of all the possible combinations of pennies - You would assume that you would know which one is correct intuitively - Because we use them in our everyday lives. When I look at the diagram with a friend, neither of us could guess the correct penny design. 
Short term memory and long term memory are what have been classified as the the two types. STM is more fragile and is used in everyday tasks, etc... There are billions of units that make up our LTM - They are memories of the past. Looking at the three main areas of memory is interesting - I had never thought about it before. - for arbitrary things, for meaningful relationships, and for explanation. I had never thought about memory this way, but putting it in these terms makes sense.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Week 2 Learning Log: Bad Design, Continued

I thought of finding a couple of things around my apartment building that represented bad design. Then I remembered something that happened to me a couple of week prior: I was doing laundry as usual - The machines take quarters, so I bring what I need down the stair ever time I go back to change a load - But this time I did something different. I had excess quarters in my pocket and proceeded down the stairs - The washing cycle was not done but I thought I would just prepare the dryer for when I went back down (So I would not have to waste a minute loading each individual quarter while the wash was all ready to by dried). So, I loaded the quarters in the dryer and pushed the metal quarter loader into the machine. I came back down the stairs about a half hour later thinking the wash MUST be done by now! I then loaded the wet clothes into the dryer and pushed the "ON" button - nothing happened. I tryed again, pushing even harder on the on button, again nothing happened - It turned out that there must be a limit of time between when the quarters are loaded into the machine and the time when you press the on button on the dryer. There was nothing to indicate this on the machine - And I just lost my $ 2.00 ! Oh well now I felt stupid - But after reading chapter two of DOET I didn't feel so stupid. I can't blame myself for poor design.

Week 2 Learning Log: Bad Design

As I read the "Design of Everyday Things" it mentioned a projector design that was flawed. I immediately remembered an event that had happened earlier in the week in one of my other classes; Human adaptability. The teacher was showing a very old film on an old projector - We should have seen what was later to happen coming from a mile away. First the projector had to be loaded up with the real by a film tech - not a task that any laymen could accomplish. As the film played it made its usual noisy clicking sound that most projector make. Everything was going fine - but as the reel was three quarters of the way through playing - the empty real that the film wound into was filling up fast - soon the film was overlaping the new reel that it was unloading into - it seemed to be shifting out of line with the rest of the film - but the movie played on with no problem - As the reel finally ran out, the last frame came out of the reel and proceded to unravel - film all over the place - on the floor! - This is a prime example of bad design - way could there have been some mechenism that could stop this from happening? I don't have any idea! The user and even an expert did not anticipate this from happening. I am sure that some projectors have a fail safe that could prevent this from happening, but not in this case!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Common interfaces in my work space


I find what Gibson has concluded fascinating. He states; “…the affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. [5, p.127]” In this case WE are the animals and the natural environment that we are given is the computer interface (speaking in terms of the most common interface that we are using in our daily lives or at lease in this instance.) The natural boundaries that we are given are that of the lines, buttons and boundaries of the screen we look at. 
He goes on to say that, "The affordance does not change as the needs and goals of the actor change." In this case I (or we) am the actor. But the difference is that as an "actor" using the computer interface we are constantly changing the look, shape, and direction of the screen. This does not happen without work - that is moving our hands to control the mouse or keyboard to manipulate the screen. Gibson defines this as "environment mutuality." 
Norman's approach to affordances is slightly different. He does to believe that there is an inherent trait or use for the affordance he states, "...that perception by an individual may be involved in characterizing the existence of the affordance." that is that a chair may be picked up and that sitting in the chair may be this most obvious trait but not necessarily the only one. Norman does not believe that there is an importance of an "actor" That the affordances come only from the object. An important point relating to interface design; Norman believes, "that when designers take advantage of affordances, the user knows what to do just by looking." Gibson's ideas seem to be more black and white whereas Norman can identify the shades of grey. 
Other more contemporary theorists such as Gaver and Johnson give more varying definitions of affordance, but the more simple and direct approach to this seems to be the best. It seems like Norman agrees; “Sloppy thinking about the concepts and tactics often leads to sloppiness in design. And sloppiness in design translates into confusion for users. [18, p. 41]”
Speaking about nested affordances ; they are the layers or possible uses of an object or interface . When making shortcuts on a computer interface for example - adding a key command such as (control V) on a MAC to paste - this makes the affordance faster, therefore easier. 
Because the definition of affordances has such a wide meaning, it has almost become lost. Getting back to the most basic definition can help us in designing better interfaces. It seems like Gibson's can be the best because it has the most direct and minimal meaning.

Excerpts from Affordances: Clarifying and Evolving a Concept

Joanna McGrenere

Department of Computer Science

University of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario

Canada M5S 3G4

Wayne Ho

User-Centered Design

IBM Software Solutions Toronto Laboratory

1150 Eglinton Ave. East, Toronto, Ontario

Canada M3C 1H7

Test post

Introduction to interface design : Katherine Bennett. Kittie test post # 1