Response – Kim Goodwin: Designing for the Digital Age

This chapter talks about how design is meant to serve human needs and goals. One of her quotes in the chapter: ” design is the craft of visualizing concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constraints.” This quote gave me a clearer picture as to how we should design.

Being a good designer does not just mean making our products aesthetically pleasing but going back to the basics and identifying the problems and try to solve them before diving straight into designing upon receiving the brief.

At Cooper, it is believed that the best way to successfully design a product is to focus on achieving goals, which is also Goal- Directed Design. Goal directed design consists of design principles, patterns, process and practices. As a starting point, I personally believe that we designers should sit down with a clear state of mind, and evaluate the problem and solve them before we start to design. This very start-off point, to me, would be the most important part of the whole design process as it would dictate the direction of the project. Without a clear vision of the problem and solution, the end product might not solve the problem which also means that the project will fail. We often tend to get too carried away while designing our product, forgetting what and who we are designing. Therefore I feel that having a good starting point for any design project is essential for us in order to solve any problems in our projects.

Another point to reflect on would be a different take on the design process which includes research, planning, modelling, together with various requirements and frameworks. I strongly agree to this design process in terms of the research part as I feel that during the research part, it is where we uncover many different problems, even some problems which come unexpected. It is also the research part where we are also able to identify specific problem(s) and from there on carrying on with the subsequent design processes.

Design is a very broad word. It goes from emotions to visuals. It is certainly important to identify specific problems and adopt the most suitable design process in order to successfully design a problem which truly fulfills the brief. Having good and adequate knowledge about the problems through prior research would also help to identify design requirements and needs. These small and minute details might not seem important, but they would certainly make a difference along the way in the whole design process.

Response: Thoughtful Interaction Design

This chapter discussed about the different challenges a designer face in the design process. One would be them being bounded by material qualities, tactile or digital. However, I feel that with the existence of such challenges, it should be a form of motivation for the designers to look at things in a wider perspective so that there would be a breakthrough in their design. Having a library of material characteristics is certainly a plus, but when it comes to working with more than one material, the real challenges come. The use/ combination of materials can make or break a product, in both aesthetics and user experience.

To me, good design is definitely not just being highly aesthetic but also considering a positive overall experience when using the product itself. That, to me will then be considered as a well-thought design. As designers, we have full control over how we want a product to work, technically as well as physically in terms of human-machine interaction. Hence, we should be constantly aware of what we are designing and always going back to the brief  whenever we are lost.

“The devil is in the details”

Speaking of thoughtful interaction design, I would wish to highlight one design detail which is very prominent in this digital age, yet people are still oblivious to its existence. That would be the indication on the earphone itself. I have often used the trial-and-error method to find out which is the left and right side of the earphone. However, in recent years, I was enlightened to the fact that there is usually a small indication on the right side of the earphone. This detail, is in fact I believe, designed for the visually-impaired to allow them to distinguish between the different sides. Upon discovering this minute neglected detail, I have since used the indication to confidently identify the right side of the earphone with a small dialogue in my mind: “Right, there’s the bump, this is for the right ear.” This is one thoughtful design which I feel that deserves more credit than it should.

Another thoughtful interaction design would be leaning towards a more cognitive design detail, which is the signal lever. Imagine lifting the lever upwards would signal left instead of right, it would totally be out of sync with the human anthropology (because it feels “correct” for us to steer right after completing the action of lifting up the lever and vice versa).

I am not sure of the exact reason why signal levers are designed in the way it is today but I do feel that if this interaction was designed to function the opposite way from today, we might be used to it and neglect the fact that it might feel weird.

Above are the two examples which I feel that are thoughtful interaction design and I feel that when one design is being “thoughtful”, they are usually the ones that are there when you need them, which often leads to being neglected of their value and taken granted of. On the other hand, such design, should be what we as designers should always strive for, incorporating thoughtful design details in our products so that these details can function unknowingly (to the user) when the need arises.


Diary Of Behaviour

Day 1 (Friday) :

Like everybody else in this digital age, I would use my phone every single day without fail, it has basically become part of my life.

In the morning, before I am awake, my phone would have already woken me up  put it to snooze. After which I would proceed to check my messages to see if there are any important messages that are important or require any immediate reply.

Throughout the day, as I am commuting on the train, I would play multiple mobile games with my earpiece plugged into both my ears to cut myself off from the mad rush hour. After games, I would then look into social media applications to catch myself up with the latest news and trends.

While I am at home, I tend to use more of my computer instead of my mobile phone as I could basically accomplish every task I can on phone, on my computer itself. I would say that I actually spend the most time on my mobile phone while I am not at home, commuting alone on public transport.

As addicted as I might sound, there are also times when I actually put away my phone after a period of heavy usage and I start to look around me in the train cabin. I would say, 4 out of 5 commuters actually have their heads bent down, swiping through endless feeds on social media, if not on mobile games or watching serial dramas.

Day 2 (Saturday):

It was not an easy day for me. I have lost all my rewards in most of my mobile games. It was the start of the weekend and I have to put away my phone entirely. It wasn’t easy for me, but it was certainly bearable for me as I have an outing which also means I can be easily distracted from using my phone.

After leaving house, I texted my friend to let him know that I am actually on the way to meet him already I kept my phone away and proceed to meet my friend. It felt uneasy for me not to reach my pocket to some regular swiping on my screen, but I got over it quite quickly.

And so I reached the destination where I am supposed to meet my friend. He was nowhere to be seen. So i panicked. Fear started to build up as I am worried that he might have notified me of sudden changes.

To distract myself from being worried and to resist the temptation to use my phone, I went to have a walk in the vicinity so that I could window-shop as well as to keep a lookout for him. Usually when the other party is late for the meeting, the first thing I would do would be to play games on my phone to kill off some time until we meet. Now that I am not on my phone, as I window-shopped, I found out that it was actually better to look at physical things as compared to the things I see on the digital screen, virtually.

Besides being more aware of real-world things, I also begin to feel and see that the takeover of technology is very serious. At least in Singapore. Even children in prams, are having a smartphone in their hands, and for some, tablets. Having said this, I find myself being more observant to my surroundings, such as happenings and people. Street performers, street displays, new architectural buildings can actually be way more interesting than anything else inside a smartphone.

After the outing, I couldn’t resist the temptation, and pulled out my phone from my pocket and loaded my games. However, I find that leaving out the phone in our daily lives could sound very difficult in today’s context, but I still feel that being offline digitally can sometimes, do us good too.


Response: Interactive Environment and Experience Design

Timothy Nohe’s presentation on Interactive Environment and Experience Design was unlike any other guest speakers’. It was interesting to listen to him share his experiences in his works and installations. His experiences also made me understand that to make an installation successful, you need more than just a designer, but a team of people from different fields of expertise.

Besides the usual slides that were presented, Timothy also brought along his interactive project to class and allowed us to interact with it. There was a mixer-like equipment connected to a screen and to activate the screen, it was through the means of connecting different jacks to different ports. Every different port connected, it will then produce a one-off pattern on the screen as well as to me, a very ‘sci-fi’ tone. I was very intrigued by the infinite possibilities one could have with this set up and I was actually very interested by the technicalities behind the project.

The project that he showed us in class made me know how advanced technology really is, similar to the Future World field trip. Another take away from his presentation was the minute factors that we tend to overlook when we work on our projects, such as weather-proofing our projects, maintenance issues, and also to ensure that our work does not fail under the heavy interaction from the public.

Trip To Future World @ ArtScience Museum

The trip to Future World by TeamLab at the ArtScience Museum was certainly enriching as it was my first time going for the exhibition. Upon entering the exhibition, I was greeted with an immersive experience through 4D projections and it was definitely eye-opening. I felt like I was being brought into another dimension with the combinations of light and sound.

Moving on to other exhibits, what fascinated me the most would be Sketch Town. TeamLab made use of several technologies which I was really interested in. There were paper with outlines of a car and a house printed on it and the public could use the crayons provided to express their creativity on it. Its just like childhood all over again for me. After which, we could actually scan our drawings and it will be brought in to the huge display of a town, almost in an instant.

Just when I thought that was the end of the experience of this section, I was told that I can use the same drawing I created, scan it, and it would be printed out as a cut-out template and be formed into a 3D model. From 2D to digital and to 3D, this process is to me, the freshest and the most interesting interaction I had in the exhibition.

This trip to the exhibition was an eye-opening experience for me, and through this experience, it would aid me in conceptualizing for the iLight project with a wider perspective as I am aware of the technologies that could actually be implemented into the project, such as incorporating sounds and converting intangible pieces to memorable souvenirs.