Assignement Week 2 – Part 2

  • Response to the 5th chapter of Jan Chipchase’s Hidden in Plain Sight

Jan Chipchase’s main idea in this chapter is cultural calibration when designing a product. Each region of the world has its singularities (behaviours, do’s and don’ts etc.). Therefore, it is vital to take them into account when designing a product, , if you want your product to reach its target audience. The best way to do so, according to him, is to immerge yourself in the culture, whether it is a just for a few hours or for a couple of weeks.

I agree with him in this point, it is impossible to really grasp a culture until you find yourself in the midst of the local’s everyday life.

I can speak about France for example because I can relate to it. If you have the “chance” to experience once in your lifetime a commute to Paris when you live in the suburbs, you can start to understand why Parisians always seem to be stressed and on a hurry. Regional trains and suburbian trains in the Greater Paris Area are a catastrophy: delays, works on the line, temporary shutdowns of the line for various reasons. All of which make the everyday commute to work a living nightmare.

Experiencing this can help you understand the needs of the users. For example, the success of mobile phones games and apps in France (Candy Crush and so on…) has a lot to do with this. It is a way to get your mind off the stressful commutes. And it is true now when you take the metro in Paris, you come across a lot of people playing games on their phone.

Question 1) The author talks about cultural calibration and I agree with him, but in my opinion it implies having a lot of resources and time to spare, however sometimes you need to be the first to get your product out on the market. Therefore spending money and time on this kind of research would mean that your competitor may release his product before you. And even if it isn’t as perfectly designed as yours, he will still have the advantage in the eyes of the public because he was the first to put it out there.

So the question that comes to my min is : is it acceptable not to be the first one to release the product on the market, even if it is better designed than the competitors’ product ?

Question 2) The author talks about breaching behaviors in this chapter and how for example it used to be seen as rude to block out noise of the city by putting on headphones. What causes a breaching behavior to evolve into becoming a normal behavior, can a technological advance be solely responsible for it or is it paired with a social evolution (more individualistic society)? And in this particular example, is it still seen as a breaching behavior in more collective societies, even though the technology exists?

Assignement Week 1 – Part 4

  • Response to the 1st chapter of Donald Norman’s The Design of Everyday things

As well as D. Normal, I feel like feedback is an essential component of our experience as users and should really be taken into account by the designers. In my experience, I have found that sound feedback is one of the most important component of user experience. For example I’m used to filming my skiing adventures with my GoPro camera. This forces me to turn on and off the camera at any time (whether I am in the middle of a slope or not). Therefore the sound feedback emitted by the device when I turn it on is essential for me because it allows me to continue skiing without having to stop to check if the camera is on.

This is an example among many others in which the absence of the feedback would be disastrous for the user experience.

I also enjoyed the author’s insight on the cycles in product design and how with time designers and manifucturers tend to over-complexify their products. . However I feel like it is a point a view which only takes into account technological advance but doesn’t take into account trends. If you think about it, 10 years ago, digital (and complex) watches were a hit (Casio’s G-Shock for example), but now trends like minimalism have had a real influence on how we see watches. We have now mostly become attracted to more minimalistic watches, which only have one function (see Ice Watch 2015 or Daniel Wellington watches for example).

Daniel Wellington Watch
Daniel Wellington Watch
Ice watches 2015
Ice watches 2015

Of course there are still complex watches but their target audience is a niche market (runners …).

Question 1) The author talks about the over-complexity of some products but sometimes it is a trademark of the brand and it is how it can differentiate itself from its competitors, only real “users” will be able to use it. For example if you take swiss knives (Wenger brand) with a lot of functions. Does it make it a poorly-designed product?

Question 2) The question of affordance of a product is very important but it differs from countries and areas in the world, is it better to adapt our design to each part of the world we are aiming or should we actually be able to design a product which will appeal to the entire world ? This question concerns especially high-tech products