Part 1: Write a response to the exhibition “Future World”. Keep in mind the following questions – What is experience design and what are the possibilities of responsive environments? How might this change the way we think about the world around us and the ways that we communicate with each other?
Response regarding the exhibition “Future World” I visited on Thursday, September 22nd.
The slogan for the exhibition Future World is “Where Art meets Science”. It is indeed what I witnessed during my visit. As soon as I walked in the exhibition, I was instantly immersed into darkness. A darkness in which music met visual effects to create a perfect blend. In other words, I had set foot in a totally immersive experience.
The first room was one of the displays of the exhibition which impressed me the most. At first I was wondering why people were laying down and just staring at an animation which seemed to be going on forever. But then I tried it, I sat down and finally decided to lay down on the floor. It took some time but the atmosphere succeeded in carrying me away. The music, the visuals, the colors, the way the screen were displayed (forming a quarter of an octogon), everything that was there, felt right.
This is what the whole exhibition is about, immersing yourself in a world, an environment, and most importantly being able to interact with it.
It was also the case with the last display of the exhibition, the crystal universe. I entered a room not knowing what to expect and suddenly I found myself surrounded by lighting effects, as if I was being transported to another dimension. And the experience got even more interesting when I realize that I, the person walking inside of it, could control this universe I set myself in. This was possible by selecting the desired universe on the iPad at the back at the room and swiping it towards the crystal hallway. A few seconds later, I had succeded in changeing the (shared) universe.
To be able to interact with your surrounding but also in this last particular case to be able to control it, feels very empowering. I also felt to some extent that it gave me responsability, in that I was responsible for what the people standing inside the hallway were going to see next.
I also enjoyed the display in which you could make interact physical objects with digital objects (see picture below). First of all the technical aspect of it impressed me, since the physical object was just a simple disk of wood, but also I couldn’t help but imagine other kind of games/animations you could create with this concept.
This exhibition made me realize that, when designing an interface, it is vital to take into account all the senses (all the relevant ones at least). For example if there hadn’t been any music the first room, the experience would have been totally different and most likely a lot less immersive.
If you take almost every display in the display, taking away one element, would completely change the user/visitor experience. The fact that we can immerse ourselves in it, and interact with the environment is key here.
Take for example the drawing workshop. If it wasn’t for the interaction part (scanning your drawing and seeing it appear in the environment on the screen), it would just have been a basic drawing workshop where we would have taken our drawing home, without necessarily showing it to others. Probably just because we were not really proud with it (or simply didn’t want to share it). But the fact that we could interact with the environment made us want to share our work to the world.
In a way this is how experience design and immersive design could be helpful to people. It could help suppress people’s fear of being judged for their work, since everyone interacts with it the same way, everyone is seen as equal. And in a way even to have the courage to share and interact is sufficient.
It could be a new way of communication, instead of describing our product with words, we could just show it by modifying our environment. This brings me to mind the example of the hologram. We can display what we wish by making it appear as a physical object in our environment.
Part 3: Find 3 examples of a product/project that you think are good examples of thoughtfully designed user experience. Be prepared to support your choices.
Here below are 3 examples I chose, which constitute for me good examples of thoughtfully designed user experience.
MRT Ticketing station.
The first product I chose to talk about in this assignement is the MRT Ticketing Station.
To illustrate my point, I will compare this machine with the existing ones in the parisian metro (see second picture)
You can see on the left picture below the Singaporean MRT Ticketing Station and on the right picture an example of the Parisian Metro ticketing station.
The global impression that I have of this MRT machine is that it is very intuitive. In fact, I have never encountered any difficulty when using it. The instructions are clear and the user experience is all in all pleasant.
The large tactile screen is very appealing to the eye and the font size is big enough that you can read it from standing 1m away. The use of contrasting colors for the buttons to push on the screen makes it really easy to understand where to push.
Furthermore, the screen interface is very simple and clear, you have very few options (buy ticket vs. top-up / mode of payment etc..)
The ez link card physical emplacement is very easy to identify because it is situed just under eye level and it is protruding from the machine, you cannot miss it.
Plus, there are no physical buttons at all on this machine, on the contrary to the ticketing machines of the parisian metro which combines touch screen interface with physical buttons, which I find quite disorienting.
All these characteristics of the MRT ticketing machines contribute to make the top-up experience pleasant and very quick (less than 30 seconds in average).
2. Grab Smartphone application
The second product I will talk about in this assignement is the Grab application.
In my opinion it is very well designed because every information that the user needs is very visible,as you can see on the screenshot I took of the application.
On the homepage, you find every piece of information you need : adress of pick-up and drop-off, type of payment you wish to use, how much it will cost you, when it will arrive and also the kind of taxi/car you wish to order.
All in all, it takes you less than 30seconds to order the car you wish.
Furthermore, the system of suggestions when you type in the search box is very efficient as you can see in the screenshots below. In fact, the app shows you which drop-off location most people who took a taxi from your location chose. (in this case the airport)
In my opinion it is better designed than other similar applications (such as Uber for example), in that it is more straightforward, you do not have go to 3 different app pages to get the information you desire. Here just one page (the homepage) is sufficient.
3. McDonald’s ordering machine
The last product I am going to mention in this assignement is the McDonald’s ordering machine.
Although I am not a huge fan of McDonald’s, I am forced to admit that their order machine is quite effective and well designed.
The screen size is sufficient, because as you can see in the picture below, you can fit all the burgers in one, and have at the same time access to the other menus and to your current order at the bottom. Furthermore, the tactile screen is very responsive (a light touch is sufficient).
The Burger Menu on the ordering machine
The visual aspect of the interface is quite pleasing to the eye, especially for people that like to have images of what they eat before choosing. As the pictures are generally quite small on the overhead display, I find that it is more helpful to choose directly at the order machine. You can simply “browse” between the different menus to have access to all the burgers, rather than standing in front of the display and trying to figure out what to take.
The colors for the font, as well as the font size are spot on. You can read from a distance and the font chosen is pleasant to read.
Furthermore, I find that ordering at the Ordering Machine gives the user a quite reassuring feeling as you can control from A to Z everything you wish to order and what you will pay in the end. Thereby you avoid having a bad surprise and end up paying more than you thought.
In the end the experience of ordering at a McDonald’s ordering machine feels a lot like an interactive game, which I feel like is the experience that McDonald’s was going for. It gets you feel more involved in the preparation of your meal, especially if you use the feature for creating your own burger (see picture below).
DAY 1 – create a diary of when, why and what you use your mobile device for. Observe how others are using their mobile devices. What are the most common uses and where do you see these behaviors?
My use of mobile devices
I use two mobile devices on a daily basis: my smartphone and my laptop
Thursday, September 8th.
First of all, I used my smartphone in the morning to wake up, then I checked my mails/ whatsapp messages. Since they didn’t need to be answered immediately, I didn’t respond to them.
Next time I used my phone was in public transport to listen to music. It lasted about 15minutes.
I continued using consistently my phone throughout the day for messaging.
While I was in class I kept my mobile phone within arms reach and I read the message I received but responded to them only if I had to.
I also used my smartphone for reminders and alarms during the day. This way I didn’t have to carry a physical planner and always had the information at hand.
I used my phone again for listening to music when I was walking back to my hall.
At night I went out for drinks, therefore I used my phone for calling a taxi using Grab, which is an app only available on mobile devices. I used it for gaining time (and money) because without a mobile phone I would have had to wait until a taxi came by and hail it.
I also used my phone for calling a friend back home late in the evening (via whatsapp).
As for my laptop, the use was not as consistant as for my phone. The reasing being that I use it mostly for the software which is on it (most of the software I use is not available on the library’s computers – infographic software for example). Therefore that day I brought my laptop, so that I could work during my free hours in the library. During that day I used it from 2pm until 6pm.
Furthermore I didn’t use my laptop during class, because the class required me to take manuel notes (calculations), therefore I used a notepad.
Common uses and behaviors
Concerning others, I noticed that behaviors varied with the location. For example in the library people seemed to put their smartphones aside while working, probably wishing not to be disturbed. In this case, it seemed like the only use of the smartphone was for music and so it was rarely picked up from the table.
In the public transports on the other hand, people seemed like they were trying to kill time so they spent a lot of time on their phone, mostly sending messages, playing on their phones and/or listening to music.
I encountered a very large number of people with the Pokemon Go app open on their phone (regardless of the location, I even saw so in the library).
Lastly and this surprised to some extent, I saw quite a few people taking selfies in the library (and not in a very discreet fashion ), which is in my opinion quite an odd thing to do, since it’s a place to study and not really a place of entertainment.
From what I observed, regardless of the location, the most common uses for a smartphone seemed to be messaging (mostly whatsapp in Singapore), checking Facebook and listening to music.
For now these are the most common uses for smartphones but in the future, smartphone may even have more diversified uses such as paying, as we have seen with the development of Apple Pay and Android Pay
DAY 2 – Do not use your phone, computer or electronic device for 24 hours. Create a diary documenting and describing the difference in your behavior patterns. How did you do the things you would normally do with your phone? What other alternative behaviors did you develop? What else did you notice about the difference in behavior?
Friday, September 9th
On this day I didn’t use any of the mobile devices I mentioned earlier (mobile phone and laptop). However, it was only partly a choice. In fact, I was on a trip abroad (on the west coast of Java, in Indonesia), therefore I didn’t have my laptop on me and I also didn’t have any cell phone service.
The only electronic device I used during that day was a GoPro (a pocket action camera, which doesn’t have any screen interface). However as it is not a device I use everyday and as I wanted to capture some of what I visited, I considered that using this camera wouldn’t be in issue for this assignement.
During that day I carried a notepad to write things down whenever I thought of something noteworthy.
The first difficulty I had was for waking up. Fortunately I shared a hostel room with a friend so I relied on him to wake me up (at a very early hour – 4am). If I had been alone it would have been much more complicated and the only solution would have been to ask the desk to wake me up at 4am by calling my room.
Then for the rest of the trip I set my phone aside in a friends bag so I didn’t have any access to it.
For taking pictures (which normally I would have done with my phone, I used my GoPro. But since a standard GoPro doesn’t have a screen, I didn’t know if the pictures I was taking were any good or not. This caused me to take much more pictures than needed. In my mind I was thinking “well I took so many, at least one is going to be good”. However this led to reduce the battery life and took a lot of space on my memory card.
All in all, one of the most difficult thing (and quite annoying at first) was not knowing what time it was. In fact it made realize that in a regular day I unconsciously look at my phone very often just to know what time it is. And as I don’t wear a watch, I had no other option that either ask someone for the time, or not care at all about it.
During that day, I really liked not having to worry about things such as where to find a power outlet to charge my phone or checking my mails/messages. I think it helped me enjoy my trip even more.
I noted that I found myself quite a number of times tapping my shorts’ pockets to see if I had my phone and then remembering that I had left in my friend’s purse. This gave me mixed feelings, on the one hand I felt very liberated and free but on the other hand I also felt quite vulnerable.
In my opinion the NTU Campus Online Map has some critical design flaws, especially when using the search function.
The reason why I chose this map as an example is because I got lost on the first day when following this map. As you can see on the screenshot, I was looking for the Lecture Theatre number 13 with the “Search” tool. As a result a pin appears on the map revealing the supposed location of LT13 (A). On the map it seems to be on the same floor as all the other labelled Lecture Theatres (LT1, LT19A etc.…). However LT13 is located on the 4th floor, alongside LT14 and other lecture theatres. There is no indication on the map that tells us that it is in fact on the 4th floor and not on the 2nd floor like LT1.
To get this information, you have to look at the bottom left corner of the page (see part circled).
As I was unfamiliar with the campus and in a hurry, I had no way of knowing this and finally had to go find a physical map of all levels of the building in order to find my Lecture Theatre.
In my opinion, the map should be redesigned as to show the real level of the classroom/lecture theatre and not only one floor (the 2nd).
Well designed map
An example of a well-designed map in my opinion (although it is not a map of a building) is the map of the sports facilities at NTU.
In fact, it contains all the essential pieces of information one might be looking for. The location of the facilities is very clear and each facility is labelled. There are drawings to symbolize which sport is practiced on it, when there could ambiguity (Rugby / Football on the multi-purpose field).
Furthermore the color-code is efficient because it attracts the eye and the association of colors are somewhat natural (swimming pool in blue, fields in green and multi-purpose courts in a more neutral color).
In my opinion, this map is much more efficient than a non-schematic one.