Week 6 Assignment

Thoughtful Interaction Design by Jonas Lowgren and Erik Stolterman

I really enjoyed this reading and found it so inspiring! It is so interesting to read about simply being a designer and the responsibilities and excitement that can come with it. Studying in this area I regard myself as a designer already and this reading really made me think about what that means.

It means having the privileged to be creating and implementing new ideas into society, working with a range of people on a range of projects, constantly learning about new technologies and new ways to think about design and the design process. It incorporates the challenges and risks you have to accept in order to produce unique products/services, as well as the rewards of contributing to human life. Design spans across so many different areas, which you often forget, and works in so many different ways for example to allow certain behaviours, and even restrict them.

In a way this reading also reassured me that there is never a perfect design process and that things can often happen unintentionally and by mistake. Design is all about the process and if you don’t do that right and without making a few mistakes along the way, you might not create the most effective design. I think this ties in with the concept of being a thoughtful designer because you don’t immediately have the great idea/concept and implement it, you really have to go through the process to shape and develop an idea in order for it to fit with the user needs and functional requirements.

The design experience I’ve had has helped me to recognise good and bad design. Last year I completed a course on app design and since then I notice myself getting frustrated when apps don’t have the qualities or functions that they should have, or the design is just generally poor. Bad design really does stand out.

In saying that, who’s to say what functions they should have? Clearly just because a designed product/service is on offer, doesn’t necessarily mean it is successful or even useful. This addresses the balancing act of designers to please the client and the user, giving the client what they want and the user what they need. Should one have more input than the other? Ideally the client would also be able to relate to the user? As a user I feel annoyed when the app doesn’t serve the purpose I am using it for, or it is difficult to navigate. In today’s world when there is so much choice and variation, this user frustration is dangerous because if it’s not satisfying the user they will simply move on to another product. Therefore not only is it a challenge to keep up with new and improving technology, it must be done at a rate quicker or more effective than competitors.

I think this relates to the design as knowledge construction because everyone involved in the process needs a certain amount knowledge to get the most out of interaction design. As well an understand of the design solution, the reason and context for the design.

I liked the author’s comment about designing for the future from the now. How can we effectively design for the unknown? Do we just experience the now and recognise areas that could be improved? It’s funny to think about but it is exactly what happens, with technology advancements especially. Rapid change is a big part of our world today, in every manner, and we are forced to keep up with that. As designers we hold some of the responsibility to accommodate it, push the boundaries of what it can do and offer us, as well as being apart of implementing such change. After all, “to design is to create something new” and that is what we aim to achieve. “Design is an amazing activity” and I feel lucky to be in such an innovative industry where we have the power influence people and their lives in such a big way.


Using Technolology – Day 1

  • alarm
  • message friends/family at home
  • read the news during breakfast
  • snapchat throughout the day
  • listen to music at the gym
  • message friends to meet for dinner
  • message classmates for group projects

I’ve discovered I use my phone so much throughout the day! It even starts my day by the alarm waking me up. Then I check my messages/facebook/instagram (such an effort keeping up with social media right! Sad that we feel the need to). Another observation I made is that I’m often on my phone most in the morning time talking to friends from home because of the time difference and them being 4 hours ahead of Singapore. I often use my phone to communicate with friends here to meet for meals or to do something – go out/to the pool etc. I’d say I use my phone mostly for communication, more so now I am also trying to keep in touch with my family and friends back home, as well as those friends I have here. Other uses would be listening to music (generally and at the gym), taking photos, reading the news (which I try to do once a day, and often get update notifications of current events), checking emails, checking bank balance/transferring funds, setting reminders. Also there are a lot of times where I receive notifications which prompts me to use my phone, instead of me making the conscious decision to use it- terrible excuse when notifications can be turned off!

I’ve observed that everyone else is also using their phone almost every minute of the day. Our phones are never far away from us, on the desk as we study, in our hands as we walk, in our pockets during class etc. We have developed this reliance and habit of having it close by at all times. People walk around heads down on their phones, they use it on the bus, during meal times and while they study.

Going without technology – Day 2

  • No alarm
  • I was able to start my day without the delay in checking my phone
  • I probably paid more attention to that activities I was taking part in
  • I wasn’t constantly checking my phone for notification although I did miss checking the time! I should really buy a watch…
  • Wasn’t able to do much homework as its all on my computer -oh no!
  • I could relax better, I had less possessions to keep track of as well as things to keep track of

It was even tricky to choose the right day to do this because of how attached and reliant I am on my phone! On the weekend I went to Penang with some friends so took the day of our 15 hour bus ride to go without technology- even though that was during the night/morning. During this time I observed my friends using their phones to listen to music, take photos and message friends and I resisted!

I didn’t miss not having a laptop because I mostly use it for doing work or Facebook, and I was out doing stuff so I didn’t notice that change too much. Being without my phone though was a big change! Even just not carrying it or having it in my hand was different- how sad is that!

Luckily already being with people allowed me to have company or else I would imagine that it would have just been very lonely not having access to technology in order to organise meals/activities with other people, something you learn to do when you live by yourself. It also meant that I didn’t have the means to take photos (but my friends did phew!) but it did give me a sense of freedom. I didn’t have to worry about where my phone was (I find I get worried when travelling about loosing it as it would leave me very stuck!) or communicating with people and ‘keeping up to date with social media’ -nice to not have to do that! I did rely someone on my friends and their phones in order to take photos, find directions for us, plan where we were going to go – but nice that I could leave that to them! I felt more connected to my surroundings and definitely paid more attention to it.

I should really do this more often as it is so easy to get too attached to technology, phones in particular. But in today’s world it has become a tool that is required, and even requires constant attention -eg lots of my classes have group work and the way we communicate is obviously through technology. Social media sends constant updates (irrelevant!) but so do news websites/apps and I find it a good way to keep up to date with current events. I noticed this particularly during the Olympics and the updates were a great way for me to keep up the different events and particularly how NZ was doing as I got notified whenever our athletes competed or won medals! Basically technology has sucked us in and got us addicted to being informed. It offers us access to information about what is happening in our friends lives (can be relevant but not always!) as well as what is happening throughout the rest of the world.