From UX to HX

A response to Humans, not Users: Why UX is a Problem by Johannes Ippen.

The use of mobile phones has been embedded in our lives that it has become apart of our identity. It plays a prominent role in shaping aspects of human behaviour. According to research at Penn State, we use a gadget for 10 hours and 39 minutes on average (Cimino, 2018). Based on Harvard stats, 73% of us have experienced anxiety over losing our phones (Hartley, 2019). This anxiety and fear is now a recognisable psychological disorder called Nomophobia. This highlights why the way we utilise and interact with technology is significant; hence the need to pay closer attention to user experience, also known as UX.

Design is more than a language. It is a powerful tool that can influence and manipulate people. It is not only about creating aesthetically pleasing visuals, but also a decision of making things accessible and functional. Additionally, designers also create interactions and experiences, eventually generating a routine for people. 

Many products in the market are continually developing to provide the best user experience to achieve high user engagement rate. The force driving behind successful products is a great user experience design. Applications such as Instagram or TikTok are dominant in their space because of great UX. They know how to create addictive and feel-good experiences for their users. But this is also a problem. These products are services that target the mass audience, and they monetise through advertisement. Product designers and business strategists have found the perfect ratio of content and ads to place on their interface to make users come back for more. The higher the retention rate, the more money they earn. Every click, like, comment or share, is a recorded data for programmers to calculate and form a probability to curate a preferable content for the user. The designers base their decision on these metrics to produce a greater experience.

In Johannes Ippen’s TEDtalk, he mentioned how Snapchat had created what may seem like a fun feature to a concern. Snapchat, a direct communication tool, made a feature where if you send a ‘snap’ back and forth for a few days, you get rewarded by having a streak which is represented by a fire icon. The number beside the icon will gradually increase, the longer you keep the streak going (the number represents the days the two users have been ‘snapping’). And users of Snapchat do take this very seriously. Johannes commented on how a feature that emphasises the building of relationships could result in something that drives anxiety and labour. Thus a designer’s job is upmost crucial in creating not only the experience but also to consider the aftermath. Designers tend to make these design decisions to optimise longer usage and underestimate the impact it may have on relationships, health and how people may enjoy life. Ever since the launch of social media, the majority seek the need to document and publicise on social media instead of genuinely enjoying the small moments. We have formed a habit of publishing the best of life on social media and photoshop reality. This links back to a post I wrote in response to Wittkower’s article, “A Reply to Facebook Critics”.(

Designers have created these products that cause the fear of missing out, also known as FOMO in the millennial language. Although, this may mean that designers have succeeded in creating great user experience or customer experience. However, with the rise of societal issues, designers lack broader thinking. Designers need to stop basing decisions on short-term goals upon longer usage and to start understanding the impact it may carry. Johannes explained that designers need to shift the way they are thinking about design and to move beyond the engagement metrics and users. He further added that designers need to start designing products when they are not being used. Johannes tells the audience to imagine the human being and to develop a product for their needs and purpose in life. The product is a part of their life without creating negative impacts. He then continues explaining how designers can design a product that waits for their human to come back, rather than spamming them with notifications and alerts. Johannes encourages designers to stop thinking about user experience and to start designing for humans, also known as the human experience (HX). This would help human beings fulfil their purpose and respect their off-screen time, diminishing an addictive system and routine. 

It made me reflect that UX design can create a positive impact if designers direct their attention to it and not solely focus on monetisation. Thus, a switch of perspective is what designers need. To create a product that guides and aids human through HX—and not set up rabbit holes in the application. 

HX provides a more holistic, human-centric approach than UX. Its purpose is more than designing for the users to engage in or consume the product; it is to give life more meaning with the support of the product. In HX, there are three key areas to consider: happiness, empathy and emotional well-being. It provides designers to be more mindful of what they are creating for society and the next generation. It will enable designers to understand the consumer’s emotional journey within the application and how we may improve it. Henceforth, with the approach of HX in designers, the design decisions we make can lead to a better impact on the relationship between technology and human.

I would like to end with this quote:

“ There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users’, one is of course IT, the other is the illegal drugs trade.”

— Edward Tufte

Cimino, A. (2018, February 21). IST 110: Introduction to Information Sciences and Technology. Retrieved November, 2020, from

Hartley, S. (2019, February 27). Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time. Retrieved November, 2020, from

TEDTalk by Johannes Ippen:


With the aftereffects of the Great Depression and war in the 1950-60s, American consumerism burst into the persona of art. Designers produce objects with psychological needs of the users where it is responsive and organic; as it was believed that happiness could be achieved through the purchase of goods and services. Artists made popular culture their subject matter by appropriating images and objects such as common household items, advertisements from consumer products, celebrity icons and mass-media imagery. Pop Art reflected the simplicity of graphics and the directness of consumer packaging and advertising. This indicated the rise of drive in art for consumerism. Artists had no choice to embrace the market and social culture in order to survive.

Till today, you may think that design may still be in the palms of consumerism. In the contrary, I think that consumerism is in the palms of design. Design plays a key role in society and is seen everywhere. It is an immaculate visual communication. It should be expressed freely and displayed for the better. Thus, design should hold the concept of beauty for the eye, for the mind, for the heart and soul. An embodiment and resonation with emotion, without a form. 

Finale of my Zine



Although I am not 100% satisfied with the final outcome, I  had enjoyed the process and experience in the creation of my zine. I have learnt a lot from this experience and to keep in mind to further push myself out of my boundaries for future projects. Even though I managed to capture the essence of an economical and banking concept I wanted to show in reflection of Shenton Way, many times along the way I had certain ideas but had no idea how to carefully well execute it. Things that I would like to improve in my Zine is how I curate my narration as well as the cover page. I feel like I can make it more alluring in a certain way without revealing the name of the location. I could also take the texts out of the 2-3 page as it was commented to be distracting and the graphics has shown this well enough. Upon completion, I had encountered some printing obstacles which led me to understand the importance of multiple test prints and the play with different types of paper. It was frustrating when the designs were not aligned or cut off during printing where u have to digitally readjust during this stage. My zine also came off with a white line across the middle where I was not sure how to get rid off… This tested my patience which made me visit the printing shop twice. For my final, I had to cut bits of the ends to create a proper alignment between the double spread graphic design. If I have a project similar to this in the future, I would like to break my comfort zone in trying different styles of graphic form. Nonetheless, it was an insightful and memorable experience where I would love to do again!


Thank you Mimi for all the guidance and push! I will try to take more risks in my future projects to expand my range of stylistic designs. I appreciate your patience and teachings in class. I enjoyed this class very much 🙂

Zine Your Way


Let the creation begin!

New Beginnings

Initially, I wanted to focus on the form, shapes and patterns of the buildings to represent Shenton Way by looking at cubism. This would also convey the movement of a fast-paced, growing atmosphere. I wanted to also capture the organised and steady rhythm Shenton Way gave off with the buzz of the workers. I first researched some graphic design that gave off a messy and hectic feeling. On the other hand, I went off to pinterest to collect some inspiration in creating a moodboard. However upon research, some of the graphics gave off an upbeat party vibe instead of a paced working vibe.

I first began looking into the architecture elements of the building, be it the use of lines, colours or shapes. I started looking at the photos I took in Shenton Way and started sketching and illustrating on Illustrator. I collaged my photos on Photoshop and morphed it into a 360 degree view to make it interesting- rather than a plain landscape vectorised illustration. I was inspired to do this when I saw an Instagram post similar to this:

Adding on, I created a building made with blocks of squares and rectangles to show the reflective-glass features on Shenton way buildings. Mimi commented that my overall design was inconsistent, separated and it looked more like an architectural zine. She advised me to bring out a narrative story on Shenton Way to make the zine more appealing. How do I balance my vision of the place with my ideas and also express Shenton Way from an outsider’s perspective; I wondered. This got me into a ‘designers block’. This led me into further research on more graphic forms of the economy and banking in Shenton. I wanted to give off the essence of the economical growth in Shenton Way, since it is designated as the financial and banking hub. It is also a a symbol of Singapore’s rise to a modern nation.

I experimented on designing the cover page by playing with the idea of a building with office workers intertwining in the title. However, upon completion, it seemed boring and uninteresting so I decided to scrap it off. (as shown below)

After consulting with Mimi, I decided to take another look at my photos I took in Shenton Way. I think one of the obstacles along the way was drifting off with the idea and concept you initially had, ignoring the actual essence of the location and the photos you took.  I also re-looked at the write-up I wrote for Shenton Way. This gave me a new and clearer picture on how I wanna stylise and design the zine.


Shenton Way is known as Singapore’s Wall street- banking and financial hub. When I break down these words ‘finance’ and ‘banking’ – currency exchange comes into my mind. Hence I focused on the idea of currency exchange. I depicted this by creating vectors of the different currencies of the world: Yen, Euro, Dollar, Pound, Won and of course including the SGD (showing Singapore’s first president, Yusuf Ishak since the location is in Singapore). I also added office workers walking around and pushing the currencies to portray the financial office life around the area. Moreover, to make it more of a narrative I included a character, a deer, to represent me wandering around the place. A character that is out of place and holds the curiosity of what goes on in this area. As a whole you may think that the deer does not fit into the scene and feels unnecessary, but this is what I wanted to portray. This led to the graphic design below.

Keeping in mind that Shenton Way is a symbol of Singapore’s rise from “a small fishing village” to a modern nation. I wanted to portray this, as well as the new bus interchange built to serve commuters in the Central Business District in June 2017. Thus leading me to design an economical graph with iconic buildings of Shenton Way and the bus interchange. I also added overlapping text to add a sort of glitch or the messy incoming information and data that goes in the offices of Shenton Way.

For the last double page of my Zine, I decided to incorporate my favourite spot in Shenton Way, where I unexpectedly came across.  I left the photo raw as I wanted to show the beauty of the raw land where its is under construction that may be built on for a future building. The allurement of the flat land before a rise of new modern buildings. This spot is from the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre rooftop garden. I decided to work my graphics on it to shows the element of  ‘growth’ by using the crane and the office workers inserting coins into a piggy bank. Furthermore, I wanted to add my thoughts into this page by inserting a comment by the deer.

Overall, I chose to do a double-spread page for all my pages to create a landscape to give a bigger impact on the location. Moreover, I chose a colour scheme of toned-down solid colours crossing over to pastel colours to make it vibrant to reflect the lively energy in Shenton instead of a systematic monochrome colour scheme – implementing complementary colour pairings.

Cover Page

I did not want my cover page to reveal where my location is and what the zine is about as I felt it should be shown through the graphics on the pages. Thus, it should only give a sneak-peek into the direction of the zine and an introduction of the character.

The first draft of the cover page (shown in the initial stage) was plain and predictable – not abstract enough. Thus I designed a cover where it shows the overall essence of the location without revealing the name of the place. Upon my completion of the design, I still felt like it was lacking and could be further improved but I was stuck on ideas for a double spread cover. Thus settling for the less. I feel like I can do better!


Onto the printing stage! Mimi suggested that we head over to RJ papers to see what they had to offer. To my surprise, they held collections of wide varieties of paper that made me overwhelmed with my choices. Being indecisive, I tried my best to cut to 3-4 different types of paper that I liked. It also surprised me how cheap it was even though I am buying 8 sets of each. I am definitely coming back in the future for my future projects. The aunt over there told me to buy more since I came this far and the price was very reasonable. I thought 24 A4 sized paper was more than enough for test prints and my final zine. Little did I know, during my test print, I used up 16 out of 24 before my final! I must say test printing is so crucial, which tested my patience in aligning and colour correcting the designs on paper. It is also an important medium to match with the concept of your graphics that can further emphasise your ideas. Nonetheless, i enjoyed the whole process in the creation of my zine!

Different textured paper + Different printer printed off a slight differentiation of colour and shading: