Category Archives: Readings

DR2008_09_Presentation: Thoughtful Interaction Design

Presentation: Thoughtful Interaction Design
Group: Arinjit Das, Rebecca Yilma, Natasya Adistana
Date: 17 October 2019 (Week 9)
Slides: PDF or Google Slides

Insights & Reflections: Being a thoughtful designer is a very important thing in our modern context and we should not underestimate the power of a design. It has been a method to not only change aesthetic but also to shape one’s mindset and way of think.

DR2008_Recess Week_Reading: Goal-Directed Product and Service Design

Designing for the Digital Age (2009) by Kim Goodwin, Chapter 1: Goal-Directed Product and Service Design
Designing for the Digital Age

Design is the craft of visualizing concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constraints. These solutions could be tangible products, such as buildings, software, consumer electronics, or advertisements, or they could be services that are intended to provide a specific sort of experience. Design must serve human needs and goals, accomplish something in an efficient, effective, safe and enjoyable way. Interaction design is a discipline focused on defining the form and behaviour of interactive products, services and systems.

One of the method is Goal-Directed Design which assumes the best way to design a successful product is to focus on achieving goals. It incorporates the goals of the customers and the business creating the product or service while encompasses the design of a product’s behaviour, visual form and physical form. The method provides a framework within which skilled designers can generate great solutions with the confidence that the method will help them get it right. The method consists of four components: principles, patterns, process, and practices. Principles are guidelines for creating good solutions under specific circumstances. Patterns are types of solutions that tend to be useful for certain classes of problems. process: the steps and techniques involved in planning and conducting design research, using it to develop personas, scenarios, and requirements, then using those to develop and iterate a design solution. Process depends in large part upon the project management practices that support it.

An effective design method supports designers in doing what they do best: visualizing concrete solutions to human problems. Goal-Directed Design helps skilled designers ensure thoroughness, timely execution, and consistently high quality of output. It also helps ensure that the design effort is not in vain by making the thought process transparent to the rest of the product team.

Personally, I believe that this method is a really effective way to shape and plan a team culture in creating a product. Especially, if it is to be applied in a team with a large number of people. I realised that it has the big categories, it also has its own small elements that are very practical as well. It is indeed not a one-time method but a skill that will definitely be developed over time. Thus, practicing is the best way to familiarise and make best use of the method as it is a long term implementation.

[1] Goodwin, Kim. Designing for the Digital Age:  How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services. 1st edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

DR2008_05_Reading: Introduction to Thoughtful Interaction Design

Thoughtful Interaction Design (2004) by Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman, Chapter 1: Introduction

Every design proposal is formulated in a close relationship with a changing and growing understanding of the situation. Since this is an ongoing process, it is never possible to determine whether a design proposal is right or wrong. The design process begins when the initial ideas concerning a possible future take shape then goes on all the way to a complete and final specification that can function as a basis for construction or production. Every design process is unique with the preconditions for design work change from one occasion to the next. Every design process is affected by the people responsible for carrying out the work and existing conditions, such as available staff, tools, and time. The process is also a consequence of the specifics of the design situation at hand.

Also, design is about uncertainty, ethical activity that is deeply influenced by values and ideals. Design is also an aesthetic activity that influence our lives not only on their functionality but also from their form and the way we experience them in use situations. Design is a political and ideological activity since every design affects our possibilities for actions and our way of being in the world. These views of design, leads to a realization that design includes responsibility. In order to handle the complexity of interaction design, there is a need for a reflective mind, labelled as a thoughtful designer.

The responsibility for what is created is fully in the hands of the designer. As the design of digital artifacts is largely open and unbounded, this leaves us with a situation where the designer wields significant power, and with such power comes responsibility. It becomes important to ask questions about what is good and what is bad design, and about the goals to which an interaction designer should lend her skills.

I could not agree more on the importance of thoughtful designers in the world. It is not easy but really important approach to design with consideration of other aspects in mind, not only fulfilling one’s goal but how it will impact others. Currently, it might be seem as just a small insignificant task but actually those ‘small’ decisions are part of shaping our present and future, no matter how small it seems to be. We never know what kind of influence and impact we can bring to the society. Therefore, let’s be thoughtful! 🙂

[1] Löwgren, Jonas., and Stolterman, Erik. Thoughtful Interaction Design a Design Perspective on Information Technology Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2004.

DR2008_04_Reading: You Are What You Carry

Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers (2013) by Jan Chipchase, Chapter 4: You Are What You Carry
Hidden in Plain Sight

In carrying our stuff, some decision based on today decision and some based on habit. There are factors that affect our carrying habit such as survival as well as status, self-esteem, addiction and relationships. Fundamentally, carrying behaviour is about knowing where our belongings are, being able to access them at the right time and feeling secure in their safekeeping.  It depends on security, convenience, reliable solutions and peace of mind.

There is phenomenon the range of distribution which is the distance that people are willing to let physical objects stray when they’re out and bout. It was based on the perceived risk of danger, the actual risk of danger and the perceived and actual need to keep items close at hand for convenience. It provides perspective on the perception of risk of both the environment and the individuals in it. There is also idea of centers of gravity which is the place where we aim to set an object down and the first place we look to retrieve it, our spatial mnemonic devices. It also serves a signs that mental convenience van be just as important as physical convenience. Afterwards, there is point of reflection, the moment when a person pauses in order to run through a mental checklist of what they are carrying and what they may be forgetting. But as more and more of our possessions become digitized, we have to reexamine these fundamentals of carrying behaviour as with change comes opportunity.

Server-based storage systems like the cloud offer the promise of revolutionising how we transport our own digital belongings as it comes with challenges of providing security, convenience, reliability and peace of mind. When things become digital, the range of distribution equation changes as the physical distance, time distance and distance from consciousness can be much longer. it also means that we can juggle many more thins at once, crisscross them in myriad way as well as create collaborative networks between multiple users. Possibilities of technological advancement could create a new kind of marketplace for predictive products.Yet, it still keep the essence of carrying behaviour: having things at hand when we need them, where we need them and using memory and proximity to keep track of them.

People carry more than the bare minimum because they feel most comfortable when provisioning for contingencies. With the combination of risk probability and consequence cost creates contingency provisioning, an aspect of life where behaviour changes when a threshold is reached. Tremendously powerful tools for communication and information that fit inside our pockets and bags are our tools for survival but what “survival” means are constantly evolving. The more we come to understand it, the better equipped we’ll be to harness technology and create tools that really matter.

It really opened my eyes  that all this is insightful and not only based on what the user wants at a time, more than that it is shaped by the environment, culture and trust the person has on his environment. It seems like a trivial matter but it says a lot of the unsaid and how small changes can really affect them as well. Especially in the advancing mobility and technology, more products will utilise such information but more importantly is for the designer to be thoughtful in using this insight as well. Personally, I feel secured when I am with the people I’m familiar with and the idea of a device can indicate that thus prevent it from being stolen by strangers is a really interesting idea that will indeed give a peace in mind for owners.

[1]  Chipchase, Jan., and Steinhardt, Simon. Hidden in Plain Sight : How to Create Extraordinary Products for Tomorrow’s Customers First edition. New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2013.

DR2008_03_Reading: Calibrating Your Cultural Compass

Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers (2013) by Jan Chipchase, Chapter 5: Calibrating Your Cultural Compass
Hidden in Plain Sight

The chapter talks about rapid cultural calibration, which is an observation method that does not only put ourselves in the local mindset but also putting local phenomena into global perspective. The method is used in conjunction with more structured techniques such as in-depth interviews, surveys and home visits to help deepen the understanding of a new cultures and compare it with others.

Some tips are given as well, firstly is to ‘wake up with the city’ at the beginning of the day as it tends to be more consistent and more regimented than the day’s end as the city finds its rhythm to the tune of the morning commute. In residential areas, we’ll find locals engaged in their pre-work activities of choice while in the hours before retail businesses open, we notice how people and businesses in the community protect themselves overnight. These simple rituals offer a sense of the strength of social and commercial relationships thus say a lot about levels of trust in a neighbourhood or city. Next is to ride local transportation to understand the stresses and pains a city inhabitants at the worst of its commute as an important aspect to understand the participants’ lives. Another way is to observe the travel-hub such as airports, train stations and intercity bus stations for the diverse crowds that pass through the halls. The observation tend to reveal norms and expectations about security and the level of government suspicion to ward its population. Another place to observe is the local hairdresser that allow social hub for people to come together and have conversations to figure out any topic we would like to know in the local context.

Other than the places, another aspect to observe is the breaching behaviours of the people to conform the perceptions and social norms. It is to explore and try out the line between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” to test the malleability of the social norm in question. Then, it is about observing the international fast-food chain MacDonalds that tailored its offerings to particular setting and culture among the global hallmarks. Another aspect to observe is to read the signs, it will tell about social behaviour and value conflicts in public spaces. The existence of a sign reveals that the issue is important enough for someone to even produce it. The sign language also vary for multilingual countries, and it reveals the aspiration of its creator. On another hand, the lack of signage can just be as revealing to indicate the regulatory environment and assumption on the social fabric of society. Lastly, it is to capture the zeitgeist “time spirit” which is the mood, essence of a culture that help us to gain intuition if the design is congruous. It can be done through macro tours to capture the sensory experience within a setting.

Overall, the method encourage us to go and explore, find out the formal and informal rules of the environment to help us understand how the consumers live, daily challenges, as well as a balance between convenience, cost and comfort to augment our understanding of the things shared with us. So the tips is to find balance between formal and informal data collection in order to justify activities that feel like work and more like having fun. It is a method to help understand which of those experience can be applied to the task at hand to spot what’s hidden in plain sight.

Personally, I feel this is a very interesting way to observe the unseen. It makes me feel like there is so much more aspect in the city that actually shape a society. It is to capture  the lives a s a whole, not only on specific aspect of it and how they are interrelated to one another. It is a great method to consider especially when the observer is not local. It will really help to put point of view from local context in considering the different aspect before starting a design. While reading it, I unconsciously imagining the situation at my hometown instead of Singapore context which I have been living for the past 8 years. I realised that I personally haven’t really understand the ‘fabric’ of Singapore as I have never intentionally observing the mentioned aspect of it. I feel that it should be a method that everyone used in the start of their research context.

[1]  Chipchase, Jan., and Steinhardt, Simon. Hidden in Plain Sight : How to Create Extraordinary Products for Tomorrow’s Customers First edition. New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2013.

DR2008_02_Reading: Seen and unseen: Ho Chi Minh City’s sidewalk life

Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City (2015) by Annette Kim , Chapter 1: Seen and unseen: Ho Chi Minh City’s sidewalk life
Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City

The reading talks about a very interesting issue of sidewalk of Ho Chi Minh City. Comparing to the past, new paradigm seems to be that people on the sidewalk need to keep moving. This occurs with policy documents rationales about modernity, efficient and safe transportation, improved public health and food safety, and attracting international tourism in order to be a modern, world-class city. It was also mentioned that sidewalks are particularly important for economy due to the presence of sidewalk vending. It is  even said that in many cities the main public space is the street and when people stopped walking in the street, the sidewalk.

Therefore, it’s been questioned on how sidewalks serve its function as public space with all its existing problems. Yet, at the same time the solution proposed often homogenous which often end up demolishing what is valuable and unique to each city. Sidewalks has been the communicator of tale of human condition, it does not impact the city only in physical space but also social space. In response to that, urban planning require understanding of the design problem that also pre-suppose a heterogeneous public that can be done by going out to the site and interviewing and observing people. Therefore, since the meaning and use of space is not necessarily revealed in the built form itself, the  roles and rules about those spaces need to be observed as well. It includes system of claims to sidewalk space: the parties involved, the terms of use, under what conditions, enforcement institutions, etc. which depend upon factors such as history, culture, demographics, etc.

Sidewalks as public space where public space is often initially thought of as a commons, where there is open access to a space. However, because of land’s physical boundedness, there is a limit to how many people can enjoy the space at any given time where at a certain point, the value of the space declines with overuse. This returns us to the discussion about the advantages and disadvantages between local discretion and standardization. It is about physical environment created by these regimes in terms of functionality and livability for the broader public, both the social and physical dimensions of their sidewalk practices, how they are socially negotiated, and the city they construct.

This reading has actually remind me of my hometown where it is very common for vending to be on the sidewalks. I grew up spending money and time on those stalls and I honestly feel safe there, not only because of the relatively cheap stuff but also the friendliness of the vendors. It has been a part of my childhood memory and imagining the culture might be gone in the future has actually saddened me. I personally believe that such activities plays important role in shaping the culture of a city, thus its existence  need to be supported rather than opposed, even for the sake of economic development. I wouldn’t want to imagine the future time when I could only tell stories about what used to exist without being able to visit them in person anymore. I feel that, to lose a culture is part of losing a part of everyone who has memory about it as well.

[1] Kim, Annette Miae. Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015.

DR2008_01_Reading: The Psychopathology of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things Revised and Expanded Edition (2013) by Don Norman, Chapter 1: The Psychopathology of Everyday Things
The Design of Everyday Things Revised and Expanded Edition

After reading the first chapter about The Psychopathology of Everyday Things, my understanding as designer widened. I used to think that a good design is a design that is able to cater to the needs of its targeted market. However, after reading it I learnt that even when a product or service is specifically targeted at one type of user, throughout the process it will have interaction with different stakeholders and their point of view need to be considered as well. Take an example a chair for a toddler. I used to think that a designer should design with consideration of the child as the direct user in mind. Some examples are on how the material will be comfortable for the child, how the height will fit as the child grows up and how the finishing will be safe for the child. But after reflecting more, I am know thinking the parent’s point of view as well, such as how easy it is to assemble the chair and how convenient to store and take care for the chair’s durability.

I realise that designing an experience should not focus only on the end point but also the holistic experience of the product. And interestingly, there are many factors and elements that can be used to help in improving those experience. It’s such a complex thing that require the designer to prioritise the different needs of different users.

[1] Norman, Donald A. The Design of Everyday Things Revised and expanded edition. New York: Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2013.