Reading Response Week 10

In this article, Woletz first traces the history of immersive media, as early as the1700s. She gives examples of Villa dei Misteri’s 360-degree vision of surrounding walls, Barker’s panorama, the Holmes Card Viewer, cinema, and etc. However, not until 1956, Morton Heilig built a “reality machines” called Sensorama, breaking the optical illusions as the early works did. Following his idea, in 1968, MIT built the first completely functional Head Mounted Display. These works/machines provide a rough idea for people to be immersed by the world/scene these designers try to describe beyond the oculomotor cues and motion. Later, the invention of Videoplace further explores the immersive effects, and leaps to another level-the body returned. Today, we have “force feedback device”, which allows users to be immersed through the manipulation of optical effects as well as kinesthetic action.

The history of immersive media reminds me of the development of film experience. As I grow up, the movie theaters around me gradually discard the traditional 2D screen. The screen gets bigger and bigger(from boarder screen to imax), the images transform from 2D to 3D, and my friends tell me that recently they even experience a 4D version of Fantastic Beasts 2. It is fun and such experience enhances the darkness and mysteriousness of the film. As they mention, they feel more realistic about the cinematic world and when they watch the films and they could really “experience” the magic world, even feeling the wind when Zouwu flies.

“The broad range of examples from antiquity to current media shows that immersion in artificial space, while certainly influenced by technology, is not dependent on technology alone” (Wolez, 101). Here, she mentions that the immersive experience of the audiences should not rely on technological progress alone but cultures, perception, and even how the audience use these tools to be immersed influence the effects of” immersive media”. Thus, she mentions that for designers, interplay is also important in considering creating immersive media. Her opinion makes me think about my own project in this class. My purpose of the design is to remind people to read and reply the important messages. Therefore, besides giving visual cues as I did for these messages, maybe I should also consider creating more experience to make my users feel immersed, such as adding sound effects or vibration when they receive emergency messages. Also, I should add more user tests since the difference in cultures and usage may influence their experience in my software. Some logical interactions for me may not work for my users.

Reading Responses Week 8

Moggridge. “Designing Interactions”

Moggridge’s article introduces what is design, explains the hierarchy of complexity, and talks about design discipline in both narrow and broader view. His article first reiterates the repentance of the design process. “The process does not look like a linear system diagram, nor even a revolving wheel of iterations, but is more like playing with a pinball machine, where one bounces rapidly in unexpected directions” (650). Therefore, he reminds us that designing is not a linear process, and designers may discover and refine their design problems and solutions several times.

I am impressed by his section regarding a hierarchy of complexity, where he gives suggestions for designing different kinds of systems of objects. In fact, I found inspiration from his discussion of the importance of sociology in the design of connected systems, since it highly relates to my design. As he states, “when we are designing connected systems of products, services, and spaces, which are used in real time, the brain of any designer who tries to absorb all of the constraints is like to explode” (655). His words remind me that how helpful the critic in the class is. Actually, I am constrained in designing an application merely solving the difference in time zones at first. I am exploded since I can not come up with better solutions with my limited experience. However, the whole class reminds me that I could focus on the reminder function in order to cater to more users. The whole class, (the team) helps me to better understand the constraints in this problem and helps me design a more useful product.

His introduction to design discipline is also helpful in reminding me to discover the users rather than imagining them. He states that “operating at a subjective level, it is difficult to tell whether we are synthesizing the right set of constraints or whether the information is accurate” (659). After all, it is the designer who overviews and has the vision to the whole project. If the designer replaces the targeted users’ view with his or her own view, even the most excellent engineer could not help the product to earn the favor from the users. The whole project may fail then. Thus, learning about the users and using design discipline contribute to the success of a product.

The Case Study of Wii U

This case study provides an example of the prototype. Since THE Wii U GamePad controller did not come together, this Motoyama made a mockup (I guess it could be considered as a prototype), to check the feeling when people use it. In this mockup, the team members could insert pieces of paper in the top to change the display, to see how it looks like when users hold the controller. Thus, the prototype visualizes the products and help designers better understand what their products look like and make adjustments on whether the logic or the appearance of them.

In the second part, Kurisu says that “when we could use MII characters of ourselves, it suddenly felt like service that I myself could use.” I think it is a great strategy for them to use MII characters of themselves, since then they could are excited to use the product they design. As a result, these designers could at least try to understand what the feelings of the users, and then find and fix the parts that they feel uncomfortable or inconvenient. This part also emphasizes the importance of teamwork. Kato admits that the term helped him to make adjustments and “devised a way to make it faster and more smoothly”. 

I found the empathy part is the most interesting since I found out that even the professional team like Wii’s also face the problems of trying to overthrow the designers’ own imagination. Kato mentions that during the debugging, many customers “use Milverse in more ways than we ever imagined”. Therefore, the customers may provide insights for the designers that beyond the designers’ limitation. I then realize that besides empathy also involves really observing the users’ reactions and then makes changes to break the limitations of designers themselves.

Reading Response Week 6

Personas — a Simple Introduction

Dam and Siang’s article emphasizes the roles of personas in design, which help designers to know their users’ need. First, they point out 4 perspectives of personas, which are goal-directed persona, role-based persona, engaging persona, and fictional persona. Except the last one, all of them are based on the result of user research because it helps to avoid making assumptions on stereotypes and increases its credibility. Then they give 10 steps of creating personas, from the early stage of collecting data to the last of creating scenarios and making adjustments.

As Dam and Siang suggest, I agree that the engaging persona is the most helpful since it cooperates both goal and role-directed personas with other traditional ways. As a result, it could avoid some stereotypes formed by designers and at the same time allows designers to engage with users. As a result, the designers could better understand the users’ emotions and backgrounds, which make them “real”. Therefore, users could know how useful their products are in real life. 

After reading the article, I realize that no matter what method the designers use to create personas, details of personas should always be emphasized and prioritize. The personas should include the backgrounds, personalities, and the situations when they use the product, since assigning a specific situation to the persona will help the designers to think about what the purpose of the users and what are the highlights of their products compared with others. Thus, the designers could better cater to the needs of their users.

A Closer Look At Personas: What They Are And How They Work

Goltz’s article explains why personas are useful and effective in designing a product and provides steps for designers to build personas. When identifying users, designers could think about 4 perspectives, which hare geographical, demographic, psychographic and behavioral, to be as “real” a possible. He also mentions the importance of user research in building personas. As he suggests, usually, designers need to take interviews with their potential users and takes notes on their roles, tasks, and their expectations to the product, which is intended to improve their efficiency of finishing their tasks. With the result gotten from interviews, designers could synthesize a model of users and begin to produce a persona document, which includes key goals and “day in the life”. Then, designers disseminate the knowledge. 

As Goltz mentions, “personas help to prevent self-referential thinking, whereby a designer designs as if they are making the software only for themselves, when in fact the audience is quite unlike them.” Indeed, for me, sometimes it is too easy to fall into self-referential thinking and ignore some of the key problems that the users really hope to find solutions in the product. For example, when I share my scenarios with the class, someone suggests me that perhaps designing a product that could check the user’s status could be a more efficient solution for them. Thus, producing personas and sharing with the team is one efficient way to better understand the needs of my users.

The problem that I encountered above also reflects that the importance of collecting and analyzing data of potential users in the early stages producing personas. Without the support of data, it is hard to synthesize a model that could really reflect the needs of most of the users. Thus, in the future, I should also collect as many data as possible, to know my users better before synthesizing them to one model.

UX Storytelling For A Better User Experience

In this article, Inchauste introduces the storytelling in design and how it facilitates the designers to get closer to their users, knowing their needs. First, he argues that evoking empathy is one of the goals of the storytelling. “The stories we have seen on the silver screen or read about in novels have been able to captive us by continuing to use these patterns…All because we became emotionally invested in the characters and the story.” As he states, people (users) tend to be attracted by a story that could evoke their empathy so they could find some kind of similarities between the story and themselves. Thus, if the designers tell a story that their users could fit themselves in, they achieve the goal of learning about their users and their needs. 

Inchauste also teaches us how to tell become a good storyteller. He mentions that Norman discovers that design affects people’s experience of products in three levels, which are visceral, behavioral, and reflective design. Designers could think about the elements that could evoke empathy from the users in these levels, and then produce personas, which then become the bases of creating stories. In other words,  in the process of storytelling, designers gradually find the needs about their users, and then based on the users’ experience to build personas, which help the team to understand their goals of the products they produce.

One thing I am truly affected by the article is the roles of storytelling to the whole team. In the interview, Dorelle states that “stories help bridge understanding, so storytelling can help teams get on the same page and speak the same language.” From the readings and discussion in previous classes, I have already realized the critics or feedbacks that the team members give to the designers are useful since they provide perspectives that the designer never thinks about. However, sometimes the team member will also point out some questions out of a misunderstanding of the design. Dorellle’s words remind me that the storytelling could qualify and restrict the thoughts of designers and other team members in a positive way so that they could stay in the same page and then they could provide more useful suggestions specifically targets at the problem the designer has.

Reading Responses Week 5

Gestalt-Ideas at the Interface Between Theory and Practice

Gestalt points out that in today’s society where original ideas are much harder to be found due to the emergence of digital media, we need to seriously think about design and the consequences of “phantasmal media”. After all, Non-human perspective has rooted in our lives and deeply influence our decision in design.

One aspect that truly intrigues me is technological anarchism. “ethics can be algorithmically programmed as an alternative, or as an addition, to trying to get human beings to act or behave ethically” (Gestalt, 38). What he concerns are the trust between “intelligent algorithms of software technology” and human beings and the changes it brings to the society. He mentions that if the self-driving car dominates the market, people do not need to own cars anymore and each car regulates and manages itself, getting benefits from its self-control. For me, such a claim seems to benefits everyone (since no particular company or individual could get benefits) though, may still contain biases or injustice. For example, the government may still pass certain rules to regulate the AI system in the cars, in terms of safety reasons, for example. As a result, if those rules themselves discriminate certain groups and make certain groups access the cars harder than the others, the AI system will still be unfair even it does not intend to do so. Therefore, I think that unless the AI system could circumvent the discriminating rules in the society, benefiting everyone still remains utopian. 

As a result, Gestalt’s idea of the shift from “technological anarchism” to the  “non-human perspective” seems more important, when considering whether AI could truly bring benefits to the society or not. Just as the goal of “transdisciplinary design” breaks boundaries between the different fields of studies, the shift of regarding AI as a machine to a mentor breaks the rules where human beings in charge of everything, standing at the top of the chain in the world. Perhaps, if people allow the AI to make choices for themselves in certain conditions, some rules will be much fairer in the society and the experience of discrimination will decrease.

Chapter 5: Methods and Techniques

Stolterman first introduces three conceptualizations of the designers. The first is a black box, which contains creative solutions but lacks methods. The opposite one is a glass box, which is highly systemic and decomposes large problems into smaller ones. The third one is what designers prefer, which is called self-organizing system, where designers have “the ability to act and the ability to reflect in and on her actions” (64). Then he introduces five methods, which are inquiry, exploration, composition, assessment, and coordination.

One thing that I found interesting is the why-why-why chain. As the author illustrates, it takes places several times in the design process, inspiring the designers to reframe the design and make the goal clearer. I agree that setting up purposeful why-chain is important, since such a method does not always guarantee the ideal results. For example, when I do my homework in Week 2, I do ask questions for myself but not very purposeful. As a result, I could only come up with very few solutions for my design, and all of them are about how to deal with the difference in timezone. Later, I begin to ask more purposeful questions, like what leads to the inefficient of communication? Then I found that the difference in time zone is only one of the potential causes. Thus, the why-why-why method appears in the design process for several times, and asking more purposeful questions assist designers to design more purposeful staff.

Other techniques or methods that the author mentions are also useful for me. For example, the group work and the critique, like method 635 and the six thinking hats, help designers refresh their mind and find the problems of the solutions that they come up with. These methods also make the team-work more efficient by clarifying the roles of each member in the group. These specific roles allow members to focus on a small aspect of the project so each of them could provide sufficient opinions and feasible solutions.

Personas

Nielsen’s article introduces the steps to create a persona, which “uses the area of focus or domain you are working within as a lens to highlight the relevant attitudes and the specific context associated with the area of work.” Through building the personas, designers could get better understandings of their targeted users and evoke the empathy between the users and the designers. Thus, designers would not allow their own irrelevant desire or need to influence their design. 

I really like the 10 steps of building the personas because they help designers to clarify their targeted users. These steps include the collection of data, forming a hypothesis, everyone accepting the hypothesis, establishing the final number of persona, describing it, preparing situations, acceptance is obtained from the organization, disseminating the knowledge, preparing scenarios and made on-going adjustments. These steps allow designers to clarify their targeted users in the early data collection state, and then try to imagine their users’ need in the latter stage. 

Nielsen’s article makes me feel that finding targeted users is not that boring and hard since it is more like a process of making up a story. These basic story elements, such as characters, closure, voice, plot and etc. help designers to really take time in finding the needs of the targeted users through a systematic method. However, I think that as the scenario becomes more detailed, the risks of making mistakes in defining the users also escalate. Since the users do not really participate in the designing process, it is hard for designers to totally eliminate the false impression toward the targeted group. Nielsen also points out the drawbacks of scenario, which may lead to biases and thus the designers cannot clarify their users accurately. For me, I think that perhaps that group work is a solution to the drawbacks of scenario. For example, asking the opinions from a targeted user may make the design more suitable to the specific group. After all, if a design process does not involve the testing from the users that the designers targeted, how could they claim that it is suitable for the users? 

Reading Responses Week 4

The Design of Everyday Things—Chapter 4

In this article, Norman argues that physical, cultural, semantic, and logical constraints actually function as guides for people to create new, unfamiliar things. Norman takes the Lego motorcycle as an example, to illustrate that even though the players are not given any guide to install a motorcycle using the Lego pieces, all of them still successfully finish it. Due to the physical constraints of pieces, people figure out the structure of the motorcycle that they are expected to install. Similarly, due to their cultural, semantic and logical constraints, they successfully use all of the pieces and install the “light” in the proper position. 

However, Norman also points out that there are some resistance forces that impede people from innovating and even operating the designed things. For example, in the same case of installing Lego motorcycle,  due to the change of cultural conventions, some people have difficulties in install the yellow car light, which confuses them since their country usually use white light. Also, though the Destination Control Panel increases the efficiency of the using of elevators, especially in skyscrapers, some people still complain about it because it violates their conventions. Not to mention that the legacy problem impedes the prevail of the new design of batteries, which prevent people from damaging the machine by wrongly installing them in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, because of the concerns of the expense of massive changes, only a few machines use this new type of batteries.

Norman’s article not only gives inspiration in designing unfamiliar things but also reminds me to remember the design needs to be human-centered. First, the Lego case reminds me that designers could still figure out the design of unfamiliar things if they use those four constraints. Second, a popular design has to be human-centered, which means that the designers should not only consider the positive effects or changes that the design brings, but also needs to consider whether the public will accept it or not. For example, frustrated by figuring out which switch controls which light, I used to think that if the hotel could only have one switch to control the whole lighting system, it will be much convenient for the users. However, after reading that article, I realize that such a design also has drawbacks because it may violate the conventions. For example, if users are only given one switch, how should they do if they want to open the lamp or the light in the hallway only? Thus, fastidiously thinking about the potential results of the design and balancing the technical advancement with the conventions may be the key of a successful design.


Universal Principle of Design

These selected sections provide thoughts and reminders for designers. Among these sections, the balance is reiterated several times in different sections. For example, when talking about flexibility-usability tradeoff, the author indicates that designers need to make choices between the extent of flexibility and usability, and the key is reinforcing the most important part and sacrificing the other. In this case, clarification of the need of the users is essential since the designer needs to make choices based on that. 

In fact, as the author suggests, designers cannot avoid making choices. For example, Ockham’s Razor indicates that the designers should select the simplest design when the functions are the same because any unnecessary but complex design will decrease the design’s efficiency and increase the probabilities of errors and unexpected consequences. Based on my own observation, users seem to prefer the simplest design. For example, MUJI is popular among so many countries including Japan, the United States, and China, and the key to the success of MUJI is that it avoids as any unnecessary design as possible. Usually, the pattern in its cups is white and smoothy, yet it also decreases the weight of the products.

The Archetypes’ part reminds me Norman, who indicates that sometimes convention prevents the prevail of a new product, despite the fact that the new one truly contains improved traits. It is the same logic here: in order to design a successful product, the designers must consider archetypes, the cultural influence of the targeted group. For example, if white, yellow and black dominate the color of a product simultaneously, many older people in China may refuse to use it because the combination of the three colors represents the theme color of a funeral.

Reading Response Week 3

Löwgren’s article first explains the meaning of thoughtful design stance, which means that “designers need to be critical toward any description of the design process, and to appropriate aspects of it rather than adopt it completely” (15). His words warn the designers that in order to design a great product, they could not satisfy with their work easily and always keep critical. According to Löwgren, especially in the early stage of a design, when designers come up with a proposal, they need such a thoughtful design process to get a good start. He then summarizes some basic parts of the process, which are recurrent leaping between details and the whole, dilemma, and three levels of abstraction in early design work: the vision, the operative image, and the specification.

“So design should be seen as a conversation with the situation and as experimentation where we as designers have to be good “listeners” and “readers” of the situation” (24). As Löwgren describes, designers need to solve problems by creating surprising situations so they could learn something new. He also argues that it is important for designers to communicate with others, to absorb new ideas and then acquire the source to keep critical to their own work. Design is a social process.

Löwgren claims that keep critical to the design is one of the most important parts in the design process and I believe that it is also one of the hardest parts in design thinking. Just as he describes, I also find that design is a process of iterate. Sometimes, we stuck with an idea and may be forced to go back to the initial stage, considering new approaches or solutions and even refining the design problem, to find a more feasible design. Finally, I also believe that communication with others is important too since it helps designers to find problems that they never notice before and the communication could provide new ideas and solutions, to fresh the designer’s mind.

Drawing connections—how interfaces matter

Distelmeyer indicates that the advancement of technology in today’s world, such as mobile phones, GPS and Radio frequency identification blur the boundaries between the physical and visual realms. However, it does not mean that the process of connectivity and the interfaces vanish. Rather, people should notice the promoted ubiquity of computers. “The graphical user interfaces are so obviously omnipresent that this manifestation of software is still often mistaken in media studies for interface as a whole”(25). Thus, figuring out interfaces still remain important in today’s world.

Distelmeyer introduces four types of mutually connected operations, which are interface operations between hardware and software, between computers, between computers and non-commuter forms of interconnected materiality, and that allow humans to use computers consciously (28). As he claims, understanding these four facets, the operative images as representations of computer performance, facilitates people to think about how graphical user interfaces could help address the dicey character of computerization. As he claims, “dealing with an interface mise-en-scène built on changeable and depresenting operative images confronts us with programmability by involving us in it.”

For me,  I believe that interfaces play essential roles in design thinking. In order to make them work, designers should realize the changeable conditions of interfaces the regulation of the interfaces. After all, the meaning of interfaces is interacting with users/human beings and a successful interface should be capable of dealing with a complicated situation in which the response of the receiver change all the time at the same time guiding the receivers, to regulate the system. Thus, from the early stage of designing of the interfaces, designers should clarify the purpose of the design and how they guide the receivers, to guide them to follow the logic.

Reading Response Week 2

Design Thinking: New Innovative Thinking for New Problems

Siang’s article calls for a change in Design thinking by pointing out that as the society changes rapidly, designer should no longer focus only on the tame problems since they could not satisfy our need in today’s world anymore. Rather, designers should be human-centered, while keeping the scientific approach. He states that “Design Thinking is a large part of that new approach towards innovation, as it allows people, teams, and organisations to have a human-centred perspective, and yet a scientific approach, towards solving a problem.” Thus, designers should think beyond data and technical part,  considering how the innovation could improve our lives, making contributions in the relative fields such as education and medicine. 

His claim reminds me the update of social media applications. In the early 2000s, some companies, such as MSN, providing an online chatting platform, to help users communicate in distance. Without the high cost of a transnational phone call, people in different parts of the world could also communicate whenever they want and all they need is Internet. At that time, MSN nearly occupied the market and earned huge profits. However, as companies such as Skype and Tencent promote video call, which allows the users to catch the other’s facial expression, MSN suddenly loses the market. The failure of MSN does not mean that MSN designer fail to fix the bug. Rather, their failure could be ascribed to the failure of reading the current human needs. Thus, the failure of MSN illustrates the designers should not only fix bugs but consider how their products could truly change people’s lives.

According to Siang, the next step is to build an interdisciplinary team. “To facilitate Design Thinking and innovation, thus, organisations need to start thinking about truly cross-departmental, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and abandon the silo model of skills.” Because of globalization, which stimulates the much more rapid change in the society, a team filled with both programmers and designers is more likely to achieve success. Also, he mentions that working environment is equally important too, since it keeps the dynamic of the team, which stimulates the workers to be creative and productive. Thus, since the new designers should be human-centered and need to focus on improving human’s lives, they should no longer merely focus on technical issues, but trying to find ways to fit human’s need, designing things to improve their quality of life, and changing the working environment to stimulate designers to be creative and dynamic.


 There is No Interface (Without a User). A Cybernetic Perspective on Interaction

Scherffig traces the history of interactive design and argues that even as early as the emergence of Whirland, designers start to make the machine interactive. Thus, the “black art” emerges. They try to train the machines so that they could interact with people. Then Newell and Simon develop the idea of “an understanding of human thinking that was driven by the verdict that it is a form of the symbolic information processing exhibited by computers” (67). In this project, Newell believes that human should not only be operators but communicators who communicate with computers. Then, he proposes the project XEROX which is inspired by cognitive theory. After him, Norman points out the concept of concrete thinking and “direct manipulation”. 

The accounts of Scherffig reinforce the essential idea of interactive design, and some of his ideas resonate that of Siang. They both agree that the improvement in interactive products prioritizes the need of human beings. In these products, designers try to improve the experience of interaction of human beings who interact in front of a computer. The computer should not only function as a machine, which waits for the operator to utilize it. Rather, it could communicate with human beings, knowing their needs through the interaction, and then help people to finish their tasks. 

Their statements remind me of the design of “Help” Bottom in Mac OS system. For me, such design treats the user as a communicator, rather than an operator. It is different from traditional Windows System, which only gives instructions. Rather, in the OS system, if you click the “Help” button, the system will guide you to the possible button that you may want to click in order to finish your task. Such design is much more useful and easier for users, and reveal the concept of “interaction”.


Play as Research: The Iterative Design Process ”

Zimmerman uses three games as examples to illustrate the concept of iterative design.

He clarifies that these games emphasize structure and experience, and both the designers and users play equally important roles—Interaction— in these games. “In iterative design, there is a blending of designer and user, of creator and player. It is a process of design through the reinvention of play”. In other words, both the creator and the player contribute to the game. They continuously reinvent the play through interaction. Without the players, the game is meaningless since it only contains rules that designers design. However, once the players interact with it, the patter of “behavior, sensation, social exchange and meaning” emerges. Therefore, both of them are important in endorsing a meaning to the game.

However, I am not quite sure whether such a theory could be applied to RPG games or not, since the rules in RPG games seem more powerful than the result of interaction from the players. For example, many RPG games designers write the script and set several endings for the characters. Though different reaction from players may lead to different endings, the possible endings are limited after all. Thus, it seems that the designers give some meanings to the game, and the players could only “choose” the ending, whether intentionally or not, from the pool. 

In addition, I find what is particularly interesting in this article is Zimmerman’s comment to prototype. He explains that in the early stage of game design when the first prototype emerges, the game itself may not as interesting and attractive as its later versions. However, the core role that prototype plays is to eatable a core mechanic, which is the base for the further design and development of the project. He says that “Virtually all games have a core mechanic, an action or set of actions that players will repeat over and over as they move through the designed system of a game.” Such a core mechanic highlights the meaning of actions and explains why such actions are meaningful.

Biography

My name is Yudan Li. I come from Beijing, China. During my college year, I am a video editor and reporter for The Bottom Line. I am also interested in Journalism and Film History studies, and prepare to apply for graduate programs majoring Film and media Studies.

I do not have experience in interactive design, but I hope this course could be a good start for designing interfaces.