Hidden in Plain Sight – Chapter 5

One of the most important things I learned from photography back then was probably the art of observation. I stopped looking down at the ground. There were tons of things that I have never noticed before!

Observing little details around me should have become a habit, but sometimes forgotten. Reading Jan Chipchase’s Hidden in Plain Sight (Chapter 5, Calibrating your Cultural Compass) reminds me to pay even more attention to my surroundings. Chipchase also mentioned some interesting methods (commuting, social hub, Platzgeist, etc.) to understand the culture of various environments just by looking at everyday objects or events.

Another important lesson I could learn from Chipchase is to balance out formal and informal user research. Walking outside might just be as important as surveys and interviews. A lot of things are in plain sight after all.

1. How do we filter and choose which data to use when informal and formal data are conflicting?
2. Should Designers and User Researchers be two separate positions? How much do these two overlap?

The Design of Everyday Things – Chapter 1

Response to Chapter 1:
Humans have always been great at adapting to unknown situations. We connect related (or even unrelated) past experiences to build conceptual models of a new experience. This implies that every single individual might have different way of perceiving things. What seems easy to use to someone might be hard to another.

It is our job as designers to normalise these perceptions by designing multiple signifiers. These subtle cues will make affordances and anti-affordances more obvious for average people (I personally think it’s impossible to create a complete foolproof design due to multiple factors like technology advancement, education and cultural differences). After all, design has to be so obvious that it is transparent.

Question 1:
It seems that we have various “universally-accepted design standards” for various specific products (e.g. ISO, WCAG). These standards could very well form some sort of formula or basic template for a “good design”. Why do you think poor design still happens everywhere?

Question 2:
In the first place, what do you think of iterating on conventions vs. innovating? Does trial-and-error in innovation process hurt people’s common expectation (conceptual model)?

Question 3:
How do you think an “ideal” design solution should be? Given that there are so many considerations to take (usability, aesthetics, accessibility, security, environmental impact, time, money, etc.). I personally think the key is about balance, but is sacrifice really inevitable? Or should there exist a “perfect” solution?