Category Archives: User Experience in Design

Reading Response – Sidewalk City


This reading delves into the intricacies which lie when cities plan to redevelop their existing spaces. City planners and government bodies have to carefully evaluate and balance the scale to conduct the redevelopment process. The dilemma comes when they have to choose between heritage and progress. To what extent should they sacrifice each aspect?

In this reading, the author, Annette Miae Kim describes her experience living in Ho Chi Min City and how she and the locals view and interact with sidewalks. As HCMC is a developing country, the traffic infrastructure has not been redesigned to face the influx of vehicles. Street vendors are quintessential in providing the HCMC experience as it is where the spirit of the city lives. People from all walks of life turn to street vendors as the source for their meals and it has been embedded in Vietnamese culture, to the extent where it becomes almost a symbol for Vietnam. Because of this culture, many people depend on sidewalks for their survival, operating their businesses along these streets. As plans and laws roll out in hopes to revamp the streets of HCMC to make way for wider and less congested roads to facilitate smoother traffic, these laws leave the locals who make their living off these streets in disarray as their livelihood is now at stake. Strict laws prevent vendors from operating on busy streets because of spatial concerns and thus, forcing them to leave the trait.

As a result, the essence of Vietnamese culture is slowly disappearing as these vendors are forced to evict from their spaces. Streets are becoming less vibrant and bustling, and locals and tourists alike are greeted with monotonous streets and inaccessible buildings. Locals have adapted to sell their goods through their vehicles, however, this would only benefit a select group of vendors, namely ones selling non-perishable goods.


This reading has made me consider the lengths to which our Singapore government has implemented such a strategy. How did we find the balance (if we ever did) and to what extent was it successful? Stories of my parents enjoying food which was along the streets of their old houses, and how locals and store owners would interact with each other to form a personal bond. All these were uniquely Singapore experiences, but how has it changed through the years? For one, the government created a localised venue to house all of the food vendors and owners who were affected by the urbanisation of roads. These localised places are now known as hawker centres and coffee shops. Singapore has not removed all of these places as street vendors still exists at places such as lau pa sat market. I would say that our government managed to strike a good balance in terms of redeveloping our sidewalks as the essence of hawkers can still be felt, while also paving the way for economic development.

Diary Of Behaviour

Day 1:



To begin the data collection process for Diary Of Behaviour, I had to create a reminder on my phone. It should be evident in showing how much I depend on my phone at this point. Being awoken by my phone in the morning, I instinctively started checking my social media apps as well as reading some news online. I would remain in bed for around 10-15 minutes before I actually get up and begin my day. As I was preparing breakfast and getting ready for the day, I noticed that when I am alone, I began to view my phone as my companion and my source of entertainment, using my device when I was doing mundane & routine tasks such as preparing breakfast, brushing my teeth and even showering. The entertainment I consume using my phone varies from listening to music whilst cooking or showering, to watching videos or listening to podcasts when I am eating or doing household chores.

I had to leave home for a group meeting and during that period, I used my phone to check for bus arrival timings, I notified my group members of my location, opened a music app and began reading the news on my phone. All of these began even BEFORE I stepped out of my house. My dependency on my phone became more and more striking as my day progressed.


As the functionality of our phone is so diverse, we are able to utilise it in almost any situation. One main reason I use my phone is to alleviate the feeling of boredom, to be able to occupy ourselves with some form of entertainment as and when we like has become  a habit and somewhat of an addiction. I also use my phone to be able to efficiently utilise my time. By predicting when the bus would arrive as well as planning my journey before hand helps me to reduce uncertainty and time wasted on figuring out details on the spot. Communication through mobile apps also reduces uncertainty among our peers as being able to update them on the go ensures punctual arrival.


I use my phone mainly as a media consumption device for when I am bored. Other uses would be communication and a medium to save time.


When I began to notice how much of my time is being invested into my phone, I decided to put it away during my commute back home. It is so rare to see people living  and experiencing life in the current space as many of them have been transported to a third, virtual space which is their phones. It is true when people call us the zombie generation as more often than not, our minds are not in this current space. Boredom is so frowned upon in our society now that we require constant stimulation through our devices in the form of entertainment to feel as though we are not wasting our time.

Day 2:

This challenge of not being able to use our electronic devices is one which is almost impossible for us, as we require our computers for our assignments. With that being said, I did try to ensure that I only used my computer to complete my assignments and nothing else. My phone was left almost untouched on this day to try and replicate the experience of not using an electronic device.

I usually sleep with my curtains shut and I would rely on my phone to wake me up. However, for that night, I drew my curtains hoping that the morning light would act as my ‘alarm’. Sunlight is an important indicator to our bodies that it is time to get up and I am pleased to know that the function still exists for in my body as I was able to get up around 9 AM, without an alarm! Without my phone, I was able to accomplish tasks with less time as I was not as distracted and I focused more on finishing the task quickly. It is ironic because our phones are supposed to help us become more efficient with our time. As I cleared my schedule for this day, I did not need to use any form of messaging to communicate with others.

However, I had to travel out to purchase some materials for my assignment. I turned to books to occupy my time during my commute and I was greeted with curious gazes because it has become so rare to chance upon someone reading a physical book in our day and age. To be honest, I felt a sense of pride, and accomplishment for restricting myself from using my mobile device. Without being constantly enveloped in the virtual world, I was able to observe so much more of my surroundings – an adult making funny faces at a baby, a bus driver holding the door for an elderly woman or even friends having a good laugh. These are the little details which I would have missed if I drowned out my surroundings with music and just focused on my screen.

I did face longer waiting times and I had to stop myself from setting reminders or jotting down notes on my phone, forcing me to rely more on myself for these tasks. I did get bored from time to time, so to overcome this feeling, I started to observe more of my surroundings, noticing things which may be out of place or just studying different individuals in my vicinity – paying attention to their interactions with one another, their behaviours or with an object. Overall, this experiment made me appreciate the capabilities of my phone, but more importantly, it also highlighted how dependent I am on my phone and the amount of time I waste while trying to multi-task with it. Living in the present has become such an outdated concept (how ironic) and as a result, we miss out on so many interesting details of life, making us even more boring and dull.


The Design of Everyday Things – Reading Response

I view this book as the gateway into the world of User Experience and design. It gives us – budding designers a glimpse of the problems which consumers face when dealing with day to day interactions. Be it physical objects and apparatus, or using software or complex hardware, we as designers have to ensure that what we create has to be as intuitive and as easy to use, much like how we would use it.

This reading encapsulates human centered design as it covers the main components which make up a good user experience. A user’s experience can range from the sense of touch, sight, smell and sound, which would be covered with more depth along the reading.

“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible, serving us without drawing attention to itself. Bad design, on the other hand, screams out its inadequacies, making itself very noticeable.”

We begin with breaking down the elements which make a good design and user experience.

Firstly, affordance – it refers to the relationship between a physical
object and a person.  Affordance is the immediate response an individual receives when they first interact with an object. The user may intuitively be able to use the object based on interactions with similar objects in the past. These can be as simple as a bottle cap, a door handle or a light switch. However, as the design of these simple mechanisms can change, and when that happens, it disrupts any form of perception the user may have of the product.

A good example of this disruption would be bottle caps used on containers which store medication. These caps require the user to push down on the lid before applying the twisting motion to open the container. This disruption is especially useful when it comes to preventing children and toddlers from accessing the contents of the container. However, an additional signifier would be required to inform the users of the additional feature which this cap contains.

Other example would be sliding or folding doors. These can often disrupt the user as they would be unsure what direction would be needed to operate the door. This is especially confusing if the hinges of the door is not visible, thus the user would not be able to deduce the direction needed to open the door.  In many of these cases, when there is a deviation from conventional design, and additional signifier would be required.


Signifiers – they are there to fill up the gaps where affordances may lack. They provide additional information to the user on how to operate a product or mechanism. This would often come in the form of texts or images, targeting the confusion users may face. Signifiers can also be incorporated into the design by considering the size or colour of different segments of the object.

For example, colours can be used to draw attention to a specific part of an object. Whether or not it is to deter users from accessing or interacting with that area, or it could encourage users to interact with it depends on the choice of colour and it would also be subjective to the object.

This water hose is an example of colours and shapes being used as signifiers for the usability of an object. The red would highlight the importance of that handle, while the cut out of the device would signify that it could accommodate a hand.

Mapping & feedback are especially important when it comes to designing complex systems such as control consoles or a website. Mapping refers to the linking of a control or adjustment feature to an object. This could be light switches or the buttons on a steering wheel – whereby, due to the various number of potential outcomes which could happen in an event of pushing these buttons, it is important that the user is able to identify the result of pushing any of these buttons.

Feedback is often overlooked in designing these systems as it signifies to the user that the interaction is successful. It completes the experience for the user and leaves them with a peace of mind that the task is complete. More often than not, when we do not receive any feedback from an interaction, it is common for us to continue interacting with the object till some form of acknowledgement can be seen. Feedback can be in the form of sounds such as a beep. Sight, which could include information displayed on screen or a small LED lighting up. The sense of touch can also be used through vibrations. Companies are starting to better utilise the vibration motors in phones introducing the feature of haptic feedback for interactions such as, typing on the keyboard or sending a text message.

Overall, I find myself becoming more critical and analytical to my surroundings. These skills can be transferable from the physical world to digital when it comes to designing an interactive site or application as these minute details would further enhance the experience of the user when they interact with the page. I must understand that when I design a system, I must ensure that despite it being usable to me, it may not hold true for others as functionality and affordance can differ from people.




Future World Response

We begin by studying the essence of Toshiyuki Inoko, the founder of TeamLab’s work: escaping reality through art. “We want to make a city itself become art,” Kudo says. “People can live inside artworks. Art can change the relationships between people.”


As we embark on our journey, moving forward from the concept of how we use technology to envision what a Smart City would look like in the future, we delve into the use of technology to create a cohesive ecosystem to immerse the audience into the visceral experience of what it would be like to live in such a futuristic and dynamic city.

Most, if not all of these installations are curated more towards the childlike wonder of the younger generation. Thus, the need for a installation which provides adequate feedback is important to retain the engagement and attention of children. Apart from the ‘Sanctuary’ installation,  all other works would include some form of touch or movement to interact with the piece.

Universe of Water Particles, Transcending Boundaries

Walking through the dark alley into an explosion of light, you are immediately transported into another world. Elements of nature fill your vision as you look around the room. This installation seeks to enhance the beauty of nature, something which is rarely talked about in creating a smart city. A large waterfall can be seen cascading across the wall and onto the ground. As you stand in awe of the multitudes of colour displayed on the walls, you will start to notice that the waterfall would be gently enveloping your shadow, flowing around you. The dynamic flow of the waterfall is not random, as explained by our guide – TeamLab worked with engineers and physicists to ensure that the movement of water is as scientifically close to what we can find in nature. Sound is quintessential in all of their exhibitions as  This level of detail adds realism into the piece which is what makes it immersive.

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, Ephemeral Life Born from People

Teamlab exceeds expectations when creating this immersive experience as it offers more than just aesthetics. When in this space, you can interact with the butterflies scattered all across the room by touching them, and when you do so, they wither and die, falling to the ground. These projections and sensors are all connected to a computer with superior processing capabilities which enable it to render the interactions in real time. Thus, it forms an ecosystem whereby everything is intertwined and meant to work flawlessly and in harmony. There was a mix of screens and projections which the paths of the butterflies were able to take. On the screens, the butterflies were in a ‘safe’ zone whereby the could not be touched and killed. What amazed me was the size of the room and how many butterflies were dispersed everywhere – the magnitude of this project and the amount of different permutations and combinations on different mediums left me in awe.


Life Survives by the Power of Life

It would be easy to overlook this piece of work in relation to everything else which is going on in the enclosure as it is simply a screen displaying a rotating piece of wood. However, as you continue to look at this piece of art, it slowly morphs and blossoms (literally) into a magnificent piece of art. This tree branch cycles through the seasons of the year, all while in constant rotation. It is truly mesmerizing as you watch the transformation of this branch – little trivia, this was the piece which propelled TeamLab into the public eye as it was first displayed in 2011, when renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami invited TeamLab to display a piece at his Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Taipei.


Sketch Town and Connecting! Block Town

The concept behind sketch town is one that intrigues audiences from all ages. This  installation allows the audience to change the art work based on their imagination. Audiences are encouraged to design a vehicle of their choice using any of the provided templates. Afterwards, they would then scan in their designs and it would be projected onto the screen. There would also be a real time render of the city with all of the different custom designs of the vehicles. This concept is also similar to Connecting! Block Town as it allows for the audience to move elements within the city, using the landscape as a canvas. These technologies can be applied to VR and it would facilitate conceptualizing and visualising what our future cities could look like.

Impermanent Life, at the Confluence of Spacetime New Space and Time is Born

This installation is one of the few exceptions when it comes to interaction as the audience is not required to participate in this piece. This piece is to remind audiences that moments of relaxation and reflection is crucial for our well being and it is important to take a step back and view things in its entirety, appreciating the journey taken so far.

Overall, diversity, process and intelligence are important mantras for Inoko and we can evidently see that in his work. TeamLab consists of over 400 different individuals working across the globe. The inclusion of nature and city infrastructure in the works helps us envision what the future may hold, in both art as well as the landscape of the future. 

Chipchase Reading response

The image Chipchase portrays on our daily lives leaves you wondering, how much of user experience and design has influence on our daily routines? Terms such as centre of gravity, we treat it as a spatial mnemonic device whereby we naturally gravitate towards when we are in search of essential objects vital to be able to function in society, such as our keys which give access to where we store our valuables, our wallet as it contains forms of identification, money as well as our various cards. Lastly, we have our mobile phones which is crucial for communicating with our peers, however, the functionality of our mobile phones has grown in leaps and bounds to encapsulate a much larger ecosphere outside of communication.

However, sometimes our spatial mnemonic devices may fail and we could forget to bring essential items along with us. To counter this, we have a failsafe which aims to eliminate the case in an event where we may have neglected our key belongings. This is called the point of reflection, where individuals perform a mental checklist of our valuables, most often before we leave the range of the centre of gravity. The point of reflection is not only limited to our physical belongings, but can also come as the form of checking of required balances for our cards, storage spaces in our digital media. It is intriguing to view this as a point of reflection as it functions the same way where we view our physical belongings. We would not want to travel on public transport without sufficient balance as it would involve inconveniences such as being rejected at the terminal. 

As much as we would want this event to be avoided,  it is impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of such an event happening. Thus, we carry redundancies such as a spare to avoid facing a situation like this as we would always have a backup in an event of a failure.

Undoubtedly the most important concept brought up by Chipchase was the range of distribution. How far would you allow your belongings to stray away from you?  There are many factors which would affect the range, primarily the physical properties of the space, familiarity, presence of familiar people, density of strangers, social activities engaged nearby and general cleanliness of the area. However, this is not only limited to physical objects, as in the digital realm, the range of distribution changes as you are able to make changes to your virtual surroundings almost immediately. Lets say you are uncomfortable with your assets being placed in a certain bank, you can simply transfer your money in an instant. Thus, you can manage multiple strings at once when things become digital. This accessibility and convenience is what makes technology so amazing as the range distribution is much more personal and we do not have to worry about unnecessary redundancies such as  being in the wrong environment when managing our belongings.

The information disseminated through this reading has a plethora of applications, such as web design. Using concepts such as a centre of gravity to give the user a sense of familiarity when viewing a new page encourages the user to be more comfortable with the lay out, allowing them to explore the page with more ease. Another concept that can be applied is the point of reflection. By having such a feature implemented in your web, you are able to give the user a sense of assurance that whatever they may have accomplished in your website has not gone to waste and is always readily available for them. This is crucial feedback to allow ensure the retention of the users of your website. Something as simple as showing the number of items you have in your online cart is a sufficient feedback to show a point of reflection.