Category Archives: 2016 User Experience in Design

Assignment Week 7 and 8 (part 2 and 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.

The examples stated below are ones which are present in local context. They are products and services which I feel have contribute to a positive personal experience thus far:) I feel that how thoughtfully designed a product/ project is could be rather subjective as we all have our different needs and preferences.

Example 1:

Facebook Messenger

Features of Facebook Messenger:

Personal uses:

  • keep in touch with close friends
  • send documents



Reasons for why it is more thoughtfully designed:

  • easily accessible (available on different operating systems, and laptop/ phone)
  • more expressive than usual messaging services like Whatsapp and Telegram – through their “stickers”(which are also updated now and then)
  • makes for a more interesting conversation
  • more privacy (does not require the phone number)
  • not affected by the change in number/ phone, easy to connect to friends overseas
  • simple and clean colours, easy to learn functions

Example 2:

Ion mall toilets at Orchard Road



Reasons for why it is more thoughtfully designed:

  • consistently maintained. and also has many cubicles which lessens the wait
  • many added features (such as seat sanitisers/ paper napkins/ automated soap dispenser/ tap which are fuss-free)
  • combines all these functions with interior design (such as warm lighting and neutral colours)- to create a more peaceful environment, a momentary sense of calm amidst the shopping frenzy
  • contributes to a better shopping/ working experience
  • “Of the three shopping malls, ION Orchard is rated best for its overall design and concept such as a dressing table for the ladies and well-groomed restroom cleaners who are service-orientated. Orchard Central is rated best for providing restroom facilities for the physically disabled while 313@somerset is rated best for baby-nursing facilities.”  (


Example 3:

Toastbox (bugis junction) pager for food collection


The image on the left is from a different restaurant but it is the exact shape used in Toastbox’s outlet at Bugis. The usual pager/ buzzer used to notify customers to collect their food is depicted on the right.

227e9f65-3b6a-462a-b81d-88ad696aadd7 10797727_food-review-toast-box-golden-lava-french_t2c96d1d7


Reasons for why it is more thoughtfully designed:

  • smaller and less intrusive
  • lighter and easier to hold
  • the red lights blink a longer while before the pager actually vibrates – less shock
  • less intense buzzing, but enough to be noticeable


Image references:

Facebook Messenger:

Toastbox Pager:–toast-box-golden-lava-french_t2c96d1d7.jpg


Start to work on final project proposals – prepare three ideas for a screen-based experience that you’d like to create (it can be speculative). Prepare a slide show to illustrate your ideas. The ideas can be based on any of the field trips done so far or can be something completely new.

Idea 1: The Public Whiteboard

  • inspired by the demonstration booths at stores, the pen testing areas in a stationary store
  • instead of using phones while waiting, this board allows more interaction between strangers around, without the intimidating need to talk (since we are a relatively introverted lot)
  • instinctively want to write/ draw/ see what others have written
  • not permanent (“whitewashed”after it is full) and can also be translucent?
  • public exchange of ideas, expression of thoughts, publicly
  • also inspired by the message wall in a Taipei paper museum where people leave notes in exchange for another and also “thebandofdoodlers“group (but the ordinary public cannot participate, only as spectators)
  • also referenced from the experience of drawing on condensation on glass walls
  • can freely collaborate and continue a story or an artwork/doodle
  • Limitations: fragility, abuse, vulgarity, hygiene:depends on location?



Idea 2: Virtual cage

  • a cube with six screens, with each depicting a part of the cage: like in reality
  • can design your own cage/ tank for any small animal and observe their interactions. Mimics real life but encourages creativity
  • allows the users to develop responsibility (taking care of the animals)
  • incorporates a hint of fantasy: e.g. hamster can walk on all sides of the cage. Shaking a tank causes a tornado. Can install updates to further enhance the programme, to refresh the experiences. Can observe this little pet wherever you may be
  • reminiscent of tamagotchi.
  • “thinking inside the box”- size and shape does not constrain us.



Idea 3: Smart Fridge

  • fully transparent doors allow users to write notes and to point out any item’s expiry date- less food wastage, perhaps a reminder once near expiry (fridge can detect: similar to Samsung’s smart fridge)
  • or to label if an item belongs to a specific person
  • leaving a message, writing a recipe or menu
  • transparent (can see straight away what items are in the fridge: no need waste money and time opening the fridge)



Image reference:

Assignment Week 7 and 8 (part 1 and part 4)

Response to: Designing for the digital age by Kim Goodwin, Chapter 1

It was at first confounding to be suddenly introduced to a plethora of terms which are not exactly profound, yet placed in an unfamiliar context. Terms such as “principles”, “patterns”, etc are given a more concise and specific definition, focussing more on the design process. I find these very useful and easy to understand after the author systematically listed out and categorised each step of the process. The vocabulary used became more meaningful.

It is also heartening and reassuring to know that the framework provided is an open guide where other approaches can be supplementary. It does not seek to constrain the creative mind authoritatively and this approach encourages a more conducive environment which I feel designers (or people in general) would appreciate.

With so many approaches available, I do agree with the author’s company about having goal-achievement as the main direction. She goes on to provide a breakdown (e.g. research, modelling, requirement and so on) of the methodology they apply in design and stressing that it is a versatile approach. I also appreciate the simpler words used to elaborate her points.

Question 1: It also makes me wonder if all these keywords and terms being used should always be defined by designers during their work with clients?

All these makes me curious about what methodologies other design companies apply and whether they are also successful. It was also interesting that the author placed as much emphasis on the types of people involved, how their work ethic and attitude play a key role in the design process. And as stated in the reading, a considerable amount of time is already required to implement a good design practice.

If the people involved are highly important—

Question 2:  Is there a sure way to cultivate a conducive work environment? Will this in turn help in the process of implementing a better design practice?

Reflection about “Future World”


Watching children interact with the exhibits and observing people spending a few seconds in front taking a picture and then walking off gives the impression that “Future World” is merely an exhibit for pure entertainment. Or perhaps it is under-appreciated due to the lack of a proper guide for the general public. The lights and colours were distracting at first and it made me ponder about the purpose of each exhibit. On further reading about the concept of Teamlab as well as having a friendly guide during our visit, I could understand the purpose a little more. They also stemmed from the pictorial representation of traditional Japanese arts and was very much inspired by nature.

Initially, it seemed ironic that all the nature (flowers, fish, etc) were trapped by the flat screens and walls. It seemed to emulate nature but still possessed a two-dimensional quality. Contrast this with the real vastness and ever-changing (and interactive) nature out there for everyone to enjoy and embrace. After knowing about the underlying concept of the exhibits, I found it meaningful the digital media was utilised to help reconnect users to nature, and also be a point of interaction between strangers and friends. Could this spur people to re-immerse themselves back in nature, to be more experimental and not be limited by the barriers of screens? Stated in the Teamlab website is this- “by creating an interactive relationship between the viewer and the artwork, viewers become an intrinsic part of the artworks.” I agree that being inside the digital media itself is a new and wonderful experience! 


Crystal Universe:

Assignment 6 Observations

Assignment 6

DAY 1 (with mobile device)

Observation of self (When, What and Why I use the mobile device for)

1. Calling:

  • To contact someone urgently
  • when: Rarely, usually for making appointments (or the parents)

2. Texting:

  • methods: SMS, Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger
  • casual, non-urgent way of contacting someone
  • a quieter and more discrete way of “talking”
  • Substitutes the need to call or meet
  • easy way to send information like pictures and documents
  • when: anytime that is suitable (not sleeping, eating, walking or physically talking to someone)

3. Taking pictures:

  • using the phone camera
  • done to record memories and meaningful moments
  • to share something interesting
  • “taking notes” instead of writing them down

4. Dictionary:

  • when: read a book or the news and come across an unfamiliar word
  • to check the pronunciation of a word

5. GoogleMaps:

  • finding out how to go somewhere
  • finding the best possible route, or see the options available
  • find out where I am
  • when: lost somewhere, or when planning a day

6. Internet browser:

  • search for food places to go to
  • finding out location and opening hours of stores
  • search for articles that interest me, finding answers
  • instantly getting results instead asking others, or going to the library
  • reading reviews before buying a product
  • booking movie tickets for a cinema far away

7. Social Media:

  • types: Facebook and Instagram
  • used to entertain people and mummy
  • when: bored at home, or curious about current trends and strange news

8. Notes:

  • check to-do list
  • dreading over the list of assignments and errands
  • jotting down cooking ideas

9. Email

  • checking if there is urgent work, appointments, sales
  • Hardly reply emails
  • when: more frequently than social media

Observation of others (When, What and Why others use the mobile device for)

1. Playing mobile games (like Candy Crush and Pokemon Go):

  • noticed a huge group of Pokemon Go players sitting at around the entrance of the park during the weekend evening
  • and throngs walking around or standing outside Marina Bay Sands
    2. Social Media (usually Facebook and Instagram)
    3. Reading (on the Kindle)
    4. Watching videos (with earpiece on or larger phones)
    5. Listening to music (with earpiece or headphones on)
    6. Texting


  • waiting areas (e.g. outside a public toilet, MRT station, bus stops, clinics, restaurants)
  • public transport (buses and trains)
  • alone (pairs or groups usually seen interacting, sometimes sharing the phone)
  • utilising time to catch up with friends whether through chatting or social media
  • kill time and boredom
  • habitual
  • tune out of the surroundings

7. Talking on the phone:

  • usually in larger spaces
  • if in enclosed areas: train and bus (usually meeting someone or important calls, not casual chats)

8. Taking pictures:

  • selfies, wefies to record memories (usually during outings)
  • taking pictures of tourist attractions
  • pictures of food, or “outfit of the day”

Specific People
Father :

  • messages and talks on phone anytime, even during meals, due to work issues
  • communicates with family either by text or calling (but rarely)
  • does not play games
  • does not use social media
  • sees videos sent by colleagues/ friends

DAY 2 (without electronic devices)

Difference in behaviour patterns (and alternative behaviours)

1. Planning the day in advance:

  • had to inform parents about plans before leaving home
  • have follow plan strictly
  • not going to unfamiliar places
  • consciously plan to avoid electronics (and feeling left out of social activities as others are watching TV and playing games, etc)
  • planning more meaningful activities (dinner at home, etc)

2. Observing the surroundings more:

  • bringing a book to read instead of reading from the phone
  • cannot kill time through using social media
  • glancing at other peoples’ phones

3. Recording things by writing:

  • have to bring a pen and notebook (and larger bag)
  • am the only one in the train holding a pen and book

4. Not worrying about battery life:

  • or about the phone going off in church

5. No phone in pocket:

  • easier to walk, sit down and climb stairs
  • did not have the hassle of placing phone elsewhere so as to sit more comfortably
  • did not have to constantly check if phone not lostUnchanged behaviours:
  • wearing a watch to tell time
  • reading books


  • feel comfortable without the phone as I already leave it at home when going out to exercise
  • phone is more of a distraction and a tool
  • not very attached to the device as all the photographs taken are regularly uploaded online
  • chose to detach from electronics during the weekend, where there is less urgent need to do school assignments or urgent work
  • knowing that it is only temporary, it felt manageable withholding the need to surf the net (usually like to read articles or admire pictures)

Assignment 6 Response

Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman, Thoughtful Interaction Design Chapter 1

The chapter was interesting to me as I had no prior knowledge of interaction design and what it entails. Initially, the word “design” seemed more focused on the outer appearances rather than the interior. We are currently exposed to one aspect of design (i.e. aesthetics) more than the others stated in this reading, e.g. “fashion design”, “designer bags”, “designer sandwiches” and these evokes a sense of prestige and beauty. It was very insightful to know that plenty of thought is required behind designing and this makes me more conscious about what I notice in my surroundings (and become a bit more critical). Traits like being open, sensitive, flexible and mindful would come useful to a designer. It also took a while to accept the broadness of the term material (people labelled as material?). I enjoyed how the authors focused more on the attitude rather than a strict methodology when it comes to the design process, and this comes as a relief as I have always wondered about the rights and wrongs. They state that “every design process is unique”.

With this shift in perspectives of the term “design” and also a clearer picture of what it is, it makes me ponder:

  • if the incessant need to “make the world a better place” will result in a negative or positive effect
  • can design be non-purposeful (without all the profound and deeper ideology, political reasoning, etc)
  • are all the definitions of terms (e.g. material, design, knowledge construction, etc) common across all books/ papers/ articles?

Assignment 5: Part 2 Product/ Service/ Design Concept using Place, Location and Ubiquitous technology

Link Here

Concept 1:


Tree Voice: Providing Environmental Engagement for Neighborhoods (Austin)

Tree Voice collects data on variables such as motion, temperature, noise, and pollution, all from a series of sensors placed on a tree. This data is used to make the tree “speak” through light and iconic images. The interactive display provides anyone the opportunity to engage with the tree and receive updates on their local environment. Citizens can also view the data through an online dashboard, which gives information about all the connected trees. The data can help in making decisions as basic as where to go workout in the evening or as substantial as where to buy a house. Eventually, Frog Austin sees trees having a voice in local government, and becoming influential in planning future cities that are data rich and environmentally intelligent.


Concept 2:


CompassGo: Guided Serendipitous Urban Exploration (Milan)

Frog Milan created CompassGo to help users discover unexpected places in an age where city-dwellers often pre-Google their destinations instead of exploring. When held in the hand, the device suggests and guides them through urban discovery by using smart-phone-synced personal data, GPS technology, and physical signals. The device reveals a general category – such as culture, food, or relaxation – before providing navigation to a hip clothing store, hole-in-the-wall café, or super-secret winery.


Assignment 5: Reading Response

Assignment 5: Response to You Are What You Carry

At the start of the chapter, I did not expect the author to also classify digital objects as your own personal belonging. It feels like a belonging is something that we attach meaning to, and develop a “relationship” with (i.e. a wallet received on your 18th birthday, or a phone bought with your first pay). And the author moves on to describe belongings bought over the internet or in the stores as data companies keep track of. They then use this knowledge to predict future purchases or to suggest new products. Things that are supposedly our private possession becomes less of a secret.

Technology has changed the way we own things, store things and perceive these things. I remember that I took a long time to adapt to the use of loyalty cards stored on the phone using an application. But after a while, the term “out of sight, out of mind” proved its point. I never remembered the digital cards, but the ones which I saw in my wallet every day.

Ultimately, we would never be able to escape technology’s pervasive impact on current society. However, I think the physical realm still carries a certain richness and depth that the digital cannot replace.



Digitalisation clears up physical space but lets us possess more. Does it cause us to have so many things to handle till the disadvantages of this technology outweigh its benefits?

Does over-convenience empower us or make us more handicapped? (less need to move around to get items, more reliance on technology to help us make decisions)

Assignment 1 Part 2

Choose two objects that you use every day (you cannot pick mobile phones or laptop/computer) and analyze their design using the principles described in Chapter 1 of The Design of Everyday Things.  Imagine describing what the object is and what it’s designed to do to someone who has never seen it before.  Is it intuitive or frustrating? Come up with three ways to alternate the design for that object and see how it changes its function.  Make drawings and notes in your journal.


Object 1: Chopsticks

Description: a pair of sticks made of either plastic, wood or metal. Comes in various designs and shapes (e.g. patterned, textured, long/short, thick/thin, round/square/ triangular)


  • Presented as a pair (One for each hand? Or for one hand only)
  • Can hold any part along the length of the chopstick
  • However, the chopsticks can still be used even if held the wrong way (e.g. opposite directions, or wrong ends facing down)
  • More than one way to use them or hold them and position the fingers
  • When used as a pair it allows scooping actions, sweeping actions and picking actions. Versatile
  • Allows stirring as well



  • Rounded tips (not sharp: not meant to pierce or cut things) Not a skewer. Certain food can easily slide off if pierced due to tapering
  • Tapered ends, more comfortable to hold the thicker ends and not the thinner ones
  • Some ends are also decorated, indicating that it should not be in contact with the food
  • Cannot scoop liquid or soft foods


Principles of mapping

  • No natural mapping, unless one is exposed to others using the chopsticks in the correct manner. (if everyone was wrongly taught since young, or if the community does not use such utensils, nobody would know)
  • Less visibility to the set of possible actions. The design for chopsticks are usually very simple


Principles of feedback

  • Cannot pick up food and eat properly unless held and used properly
  • Not the best feedback, chopsticks can be used in various ways, not just one.
  • Only the direction it is held in can be guessed (more comfortable to grasp the thicker ends)
  • Even if held properly, sometimes fail in picking up the food if too small or slippery. The spoon and fork are easier to handle.



  • Attached at one end (like in beginner chopsticks for children). Know where to hold. Easy to use like a tweezer, would not misplace one stick.
  • Attached at one end by a rope and very long (like in cooking chopsticks) not meant for eating comfortably. Meant for hanging and drying
  • Indented to fit the fingers at different parts of the sticks to constrain where it is held at.


Object 2: Nail clipper

Description: Made of metal, comes in a few sizes. Some has designs on them and some plain



  • Allows cutting
  • A movable and flat piece of metal (a handle) connected to a hinge: if used with one hand, there are two ways to position the part. Only one way is the most comfortable. This step requires two actions.
  • Sharp end: meant for cutting something
  • Open blades: Precise cutting
  • Some clippers come with a nail file and a sharp end (for cleaning nails?) Have to be swiveled out.
  • The handles do not constrain the direction in which the clipper is held
  • Compact (unlike a plier) and can be stored safely
  • Light weight and portable: can be lifted and used easily by anyone
  • Horizontal and flat blades: clipper can be held in any direction and still cut effectively



  • Curved blades: fits the shape of nails
  • Some clippers come with bent handles for a more firm and comfortable grip, controls where you hold it
  • Small: not meant for heavy duty uses or for cutting large surfaces
  • Quite unstable if placed flat on a surface (does not cut well or accurately)


Principles of mapping

  • Not visible how the user is supposed to flip the handle out and swivel it towards themselves before being able to hold it comfortably in one hand.
  • Clippers with a bent handle or ribbing would indicate where it is meant to be held
  • Can either use the palm or just the thumb to press down the handle. A flat base easily supported by the other four fingers.
  • Can also be held in the opposite side (upside down or facing the user rather than away)


Principles of feedback

  • Using it with the metal handle swiveled into the wrong direction makes holding it harder and unnatural
  • Most comfortable grip and direction depends on the user
  • Pressing the clipper forces the blades together.
  • Not for picking things up as the tips are too sharp, so it must be meant for cutting



  • Making the base heavy and large (not portable, but perhaps better for the handicapped)
  • Spring mechanism, opened by releasing clip or some support. Easy to open to use. Can open with one hand only.
  • A curved blade like in the horizontal curve of a nail. The clipper can only be used right side up or else it might damage the nail. Not suitable for people whose nails are flatter and larger as well.


Assignment 1 Part 1

Find two maps of a building or place you have visited – one map is badly designed and the other is well designed.  Be prepared to explain your examples and bring maps to class. Think of a time you were lost in a place and write in your journal how and why you got lost.  What about the user experience didn’t work for you?

I was not able to find two maps of a same place, but found two different maps for different places instead!

Good Map: Macritchie Reservoir


Good points:

  • Very straightforward, only a few paths deviating from the main trails
  • Useful and concise information given (such as the distance, time taken and difficulty level)
  • Colour-coded trails and accurately drawn map, with landmarks stated
  • Important facilities like toilets and bus stops also clearly illustrated using icons
  • The trails have many sign boards which indicate direction and distance
  • Rules and precautions stated. Important contact info stated. (however, the opening hours and days for Tree-Top walk not stated)

“Bad” Map: National Gallery Singapore


Good points:

  • Colour-coded areas according to category (F&B, retail stores, galleries, etc)
  • Clear icons
  • Both top-down and side views given


Bad points:

  • Maps of buildings with many levels and information are generally confusing
  • After going through a gallery, it is hard to remember where you entered and where you are headed to next. Galleries have similar interiors
  • Colours quite close (turquoise, blue and sea green) force you to refer to the legend to double check what it is. Do bright red= important areas? Which areas do we take note of? Also, the red areas are not labelled in the legend.
  • Tiring to keep referring to the map and having to reopen it, so it felt better to just explore without the map
  • No guide where to start from and progress
  • Time consuming to fully comprehend the map

Assignment 3 Part 1

How would you map the overlooked peoples or places of Singapore?

I feel that the flora and fauna in Singapore are often overlooked as we usually just pass by or drive by these without paying attention. Or maybe when we do pay attention and wonder what kind of plants they are, we do not know how to identify them. We might have to scroll through a long list on the local plants website. This could also be used as an educational tool for students both young and old.

Or perhaps if we want to look for a certain species to study and appreciate, we could find out which are the places we could find them in. The National Parks website states 10 common local trees, and identifies the more unique ones but rarely has constantly updated information about the whereabouts and identities of all the species. The community could also help to develop this map by taking pictures of the plants and inputting their location using GPS. They could also make comments about the plant/place or any memories associated with it, or ask questions. (e.g. “my favourite tree”, “why is the plant unhealthy?”, “is this tree branch a hazard?”) The editing team could consist of those in the profession (e.g. researchers and botanists)


What else would we use if we didn’t use maps to find our sense of place?

We would need really well-designed directions and signboards placed everywhere so that we know where we are and how to get to our destinations, as well as how far it is. Information like landmarks, block numbers and schools need really big and noticeable signboards.


How would you map the sounds you hear every day? How would you map emotions?

It could function like any social media platform where a recording or image can be tagged with the precise location. People would be able to access these and find out the sounds of the area.

To map emotions, we could find out the feelings of people living in an area through interviews or surveys and express these emotions using colours (blue for sad, red for angry, yellow for happy) like in a mood-ring, temperature mapping or topography. If it is a web-based mapping, strangers would be able to express their emotions anywhere and anytime and hence affect these colours instantly.