The Infra-ordinary

What speaks to us, seemingly, is always the big event, the untoward, the extra-ordinary: the front-page splash, the banner headlines. Railway trains only begin to exist when they are derailed, and the more passengers that are killed, the more the trains exist.

I do agree with George Perec to a great degree. We have been condition to live in a fast pace society that we have been desensitised to the mundane. Tabloid news,  rumours, tragedy are the fastest news media consumed today. We don’t pay attention to that one specific plane in the sky flying over our head now, unless Iran accidentally strikes it down. This also leads back to the age old philosophical thought: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

My answer to that, no, and that’s where I fail. I agree that we have to keep questioning. Only with questioning, we will be able to understand more perspective. By understanding more perspective we are better able to empathise with our user. What is their pain point? How can we better improve their experience. This article made me realise how blind I am of my users. Observation is powerful, and it is necessary.

Disneyland with the Death Penalty

“Singapore is a relentlessly G-rated experience, micromanaged by a state that has the look and feel of a very large corporation. If IBM had ever bothered to actually possess a physical country, that country might have had a lot in common with Singapore”

William Gibson first compares Singapore to the artificiality of virtual reality where everything is pristine and organised. On a surface, Singapore does gives off the vibes of ‘ctrl c’ ‘ctrl v’. Walk into the heart lands of Singapore, almost every public housing estate looks the same: Tall rectangular boxes towering in the sky.  Many would describe housing in Singapore to be ubiquitous lego blocks lacking individuality.

Given Singapore history, our need of survival has out weight our need for creative expression. This monotony in Singapore architecture was a very practical answer to Singaporean needs. HDB was not built to be aesthetic, it was build to curb Singapore housing shortage after WWII. It was a utilitarian answer to our needs.

Singapore government utilitarian way of identifying problems and solving them, has greatly ignored what Singaporeans what. During the shift from Kampong housing to HDB, many were forced to give up their lives and communities in the kampong and shift to a new community in their HDB.

Is the best way to problem solve the most utilitarian one? Singapore can afford more empathy when designing their solutions. Is this what the user wants? How would the user feel? These are the most important question we must ask ourselves when we are problem solving.

The beauty and the nice

I largely agree with the author. Over the summer, I have completed a UI UX internship in a software company. There I faced the problem of communicating what the company vision of the app to the user.

User behaviors: “can condition experiences be shared?

Fleur states that communication is difficult when concrete evidences cannot be shared. In UI UX many strive to be universal, to be understood by the masses. However, what is universal? When I first ran the first round of user testing on the app during my internship, I realised how vastly different each person is conditioned to use the app. While the interaction of the app was inspired by UX popular social media apps such as tik-tok, Instagram and reddit, I received mixed feedback on the ease of use. Some found the learning cure steep while others found it an ease to use. For example, back button. There are two camps: a. swipe to return to a page or b. using back buttons. Most apple users are condition to swipe as apple removed the home button, but countless others rely on the back button. When I tried to remove all back buttons to make the designs sleeker and minimal, many users were stuck on the screen. What may seem like a concrete experience to me, swiping, is learnt behaviours for others. I believe that today universal behaviour in UI UX trends are structured by big brands for example: the email icon of gmail. These are conditioned experiences, that takes years to implement. So when creating a new concept such as voice recognition or augmented reality, as a UI UX designer, how do we shape and visualise these abstract concepts.

So how do we organise information and structure the flow of the page. Especially when creating for an app environment, the real estates decrease to 1/5 of the desktop page. How do you effectively translate a webpage to an app? How do we create a universal experience that can be understood by the masses. Hopefully by the end of the semester, I will be able to answer these questions.