NM4210


From this module, I learned that a product is not just about performing the functions that the consumers want. It could be used to satisfy the 4 different pleasures – physio pleasure, socio pleasure, psycho pleasure and ideo-pleasure. At the same time, a product serve certain benefits better than others. An example would be a Vertu mobile phone serves the reflective better than a LG mobile phone.

I used to think that the product designing process is simply identifying the needs of the consumers, coming up with the product and asked for the users’ feedback on to formulate the product’s plan. This implies that the consumers are only involved in the initial stage of need identification and the final stage for marketing purposes. After this module, I realized the importance of getting the consumers involved from the start to the end of the product development stage where consumers are continuously asked for their inputs.

Having gone through the final project, all I can say the process that one has to go through to come up with a product or service which would provide the users with a pleasant and satisfying experience is VERY PAINFUL. I think it is going to get harder as consumers become more demanding and expect the product/service to be functional, easy to use and easy on the eye. Even stuff like packaging decisions has gone through extensive consumer research as it has an impact on the user experience. In fact, user experience starts from the moment the consumer enters the store to look at the product.

Gone are the days where consumers would just blindly buy and use any product that is produced by manufacturers without any complaints. Nowadays if the product fails to meet some of the consumers’ expectations, the product just won’t sell. It is important for companies/manufacturers to reflect this change in consumers’ expectations in their business model such that it thinks of the consumers’ needs at every stage of the product designing process and aims to enhance the user experience. The first step to enhancing the user experience is to know your consumers better.

Being a consumer, I often take for granted the effort and thought put into creating the products and services we consumed in our daily life. Things such as needs analysis and usability testing always go unnoticed by the blessed consumers. In conclusion, this module has allowed me to gain a better appreciation towards well-designed products. At the same time, it made me intolerant towards badly designed products.

To end off this entry, here’s a YouTube video on The Science and Art of User Experience at Google

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Honestly, I was expecting the article to be boring but it turned out to be quite an easy and interesting read.

Back to reflections…

Anyway, I agreed with the author that it is quite silly to try to back up with something as subjective as design with quantitative data. The author brought across this point quite when he said,

“If web design were not an art, then we would always get every part right. But it is an art, and, like all art, it deals with the subjective. The subjective is something you can never get 100% right. “

When it comes to design or art, I think the best research method to rely on is still in the qualitative form as the audience or consumers will tell what they really think of your design in their own words. Whenever, I have a designing assignment, I would always ask for my friends’ opinions with no cost involved. Although this method is less expensive, in my case it’s free, it does not make the information collected less reliable and accurate than the expensive eyetracking tool. However, it is important to note that the information gathered would be useless if the designer has no good knowledge of the design principles.

The YouTube video below is on eyetracking analysis. I found on Seth’s blog, which is one of the links found in the article. After watching the video, I really do not see the value in this usability tool. It only tells me one thing i.e. the web audience do not read in an organized manner and they have the tendency to let their eye bounce/roam all over the place. What can designers do with the information collected?

On another blog linked from the article, it mentioned some interesting finding and I thought I should just share it with you here. The findings are as follow:

  • Participants often would acquire the scroll bar without looking at it. They’d move their mouse over to the right edge of the screen and start scrolling, but their gaze wouldn’t leave the center of display. It seemed they were using their peripheral vision to acquire and use the scroll bar.
  • Participants would orally tell us they couldn’t see something their gaze was focused on. (Women in my life have referred to this as “Male Refrigerator Blindness” — the inability to see something right in front of you.)
  • Participants often would click on objects they barely gazed at. They’d focus their vision on some part of the screen, then move their mouse to some place else to actually click.

If behaviour is common among all the web audience, this would mean the information and data collected from the eye-tracking analysis is useless and it reveals nothing about why the users are looking at a particular area. This could be illustrated with an example from the article: ” If, for example, an eyetracker tells you that people don’t spend time looking at your company’s logo, does that mean you need a new logo, or does it mean that your logo is already deeply familiar to the user?”

Another interesting point brought up by the author was how research is sometimes used as a (office) political tool. I think that is one of the few advantages quantitative research can offer to the designers that is to convince quantifiable data to people who has little or no designing knowledge that your design is sound.

In conclusion, I would rather stick with the cheaper alternative to eyetracking tool that is qualitative research and work on designing foundation.

p.s. persona rooms is really a stupid idea and a waste of money.

Our group chose to focus the elderly consumers as we feel that they are often a neglected group as there were more products catering to the needs and wants of the younger consumers. However in recent years, there has been an increasing number of companies creating products and services especially for the elderly consumers. As such, we decided to put our attention on this particular age group.

Through our own personal observation, we noticed that the elderly consumers have a tendency to forget to lock up their metal grilles and main door of their house. There were also cases where they would leave the key in the keyhole. This forgetfulness of theirs made them especially vulnerable to house break-ins. The secondary research and interview with my friend who was in the Singapore Police Force during his National Service confirmed our observation as elderly home alone are the most vulnerable group of home residents to in house break-ins. With these, our group decided we need to design a product which would make elderly residents less susceptible to break-ins.

The brainstorming process of what product/ service was the most challenging and PAINFUL as I feel it would affect the rest of the stages. To aid us in the brainstorming process, we went and search for ideas on how to improve home security and spoke to some elderly residents on this issue. After numerous MISERABLE brainstorming sessions, Hong Ting came up with the idea of improving the padlock such that it comes with its own padlock holder (so it would ‘hang’ in mid air and would not come crashing to the floor or worse the foot of our rather fragile elderly after the padlock is unlocked.)

After several weeks of presentation, we received numerous feedback from the class. Based on the feedback, user evaluation and heuristic evaluation, our group has arrived with the final product which we think would serve our users’ needs and enhance their experience of locking/unlocking their metal grilles, padlock and main door.

Our final product has evolved from the padlock to this (This is our high fidelity prototype which took 10 hours to complete!)

It has the following features:

Sensors
These sensors is part of the auto-locking system which will be intergrated into the metal grilles. It works by detecting the presence of the key which has a chip embedded in it (think ezlink card).

Sliding metal grilles
Our group decided to make the metal grilles to have the ability to slide. This would allow elderly with mobility issues (e.g. the wheelchair bound residents) to have an easier time entering/ leaving their homes. The current metal grilles is quite inconvenient for physically disabled elderly consumers to use.

Push button
This feature will be installed on the metal grilles and the main doors to replace the lever. This feature is included to make the process of opening the metal grilles and main door less strenuous on their joints.

Conventional key
In the event the product malfunctions, our elderly consumers can still use the conventional key to gain access to their homes.

I personally feel that our product will be well-received by our target audience. In fact, I feel our product will be popular among other house owners of other age groups.

We faced numerous challenges and obstacles during the course of this project. One prominent obstacle faced was the interviewing our target consumers (elderly consumers). Due to the language barrier, I had a hard time communicating with my interviewee because both of us are limited in Mandarin and she can’t converse in English. So I had to rely on my parents for help in translation. At the same time, I spent a significant amount of time persuading my interviewee to let me conduct the interview and the prototype evaluation (just to list a few examples). I also tried to persuade my interviewee to allow me to take photographs of her interacting with our prototype but I obviously failed…

In conclusion, the project has allowed me to gain a better appreciation of the products currently available in the market because I know of the effort and thought these manufacturers have put into creating a good product.

The holy and impossible task was to improve the learning experience in lecture theatres. GOD HELP US. Below details our “journey” to accomplishing this task.

Research method
In order to come up with recommendations to improve the lecture experience, Hong Ting and I agreed on using ethnography and laddering as our research methods.

Ethnography – This method requires me to “infuse” myself into the environment and mix with the “natives”. It just happened that none of my modules have lectures so I decided to “crash” my friends’ Social Cognition Lecture which was held at LT 14 from 12pm – 2pm. Just in case you were wondering, Hong Ting crashed a different lecture.

Laddering – I interviewed two of my friends who attended the same lecture as me. Each interview were conducted separately so that they would not be influenced by each other’s responses.

Observations from my 1st Crashed Lecture
I can never understand why some of my friends crash lectures… What is the fun in it? Anyway, back to the topic… I was actually punctual for my friends’ lecture. Surprise surprise! Too bad… It wasn’t for my own module.

LT 14

At 12 sharp, the lecturer looked very ready to impart his knowledge to his enthu students. However, he did not start his class until the LT was more filled up. While waiting for the class to commerce, I was looking around people watching noticed that students who were using laptops are seated at the sides or at the last row. Being especially obeservant and speaking from my own personal experience, these are areas where the power points are located.

Several minutes later, the lecture started. For some reason, the microphone was not funtioning well. It made the lecturer’s voice muffled which made it hard to make out what he was trying to say. He attempted to make his voice clearer by strategically placing the microphone at random parts of the body. All I can say was that he failed miserably ;p

To my sheer horror, there was 96 lecture slides (information overload). According to my friend, this lecturer always have that many slides and he somehow able to magically finish his lectures. While I was flipping through my friend’s lecture notes, I noticed that there were a lot of blanks in the notes. This means that if the student wasn’t attention, he or she would have missed out that particular point.

The lecturer was quite interesting as he injected humour into this class. He also made it easy for students to understand points on the lecture slides by using a lot of real life case studies or colourful examples. In addition, he also asked students to volunteer for his examples. Everybody loves to watch their friends get sabotage. It is quite safe to say that majority of them were paying attention.


Drinks on small small table

The last thing that I observed from the two hours lecture was that the table space provided was too small. Very often, students would bring a cup of beverage with them and they do not have a proper place to put that drink. Some of them would put the cup underneath their seats while some would put it on the table. For both methods, the likelihood of knocking drink over and making a mess is HIGH.

Insights from the Interview

I interviewed Stacey and Janice.

Stacey

Janice on the right

From the interview, I found out that:

  • both of them thought the lecturer was interesing and humourous so they would pay attention to whatever he has to say
  • they didn’t like the fact that there were so many lecture slides and they tried cutting down their printing time by printing 9 slides on a sheet.

Recommendations

Technical

  • Workshops for lectureres to learn how to operate the IT equipments in the LTs
    • A lot of time are usually wasted because the lecturer does not know how to operate the IT equipment in the LT. Very often, they will call the tech support for help and wait for their help
  • Should standardize the technology used in all LTs
  • Having a cup holder on each seat
    • It was observed that students have the habit of bringing beverages like coffee into the LT. However, there was no space for them to place the coffee. Speaking from personal experience, it is very easy to knock over your drinks due to the limited space.
    • A cup holder like the ones found in the cinemas would help to prevent incidents where students know over their drinks accidentally.
  • Have more power points installed in each LT
    • According to my observation, LT 14 has a limited number of powerpoints and they are found at the sides and at the back. As a result, students who wish to recharge their laptops can only do so if they are sitting at the side or the back. At the same time, the number of students who wish to charge their laptops are more than the power points available.

Cultural

  • Lecturers should give breaks in during lectures.

Others

  • Lecturers should
    • upload powerpoint slides only when they are finalised

      • Students do not like/want to reprint their lecture notes due to the waste of ink, paper, time and it is very inconvenient for some because they do not have ready access to printer.
    • try to inject humour into his/her lesson
      • This would keep the students entertained but also attentive which would in turn enhance their learning experience. HOWEVER, not everyone is borned with a funny bone or sense of humour. At the same time, humour is not universal. What might be funny to me might be very lame to others. So use this recommendation with CAUTION…
    • use examples that students can relate to
      • Sometimes the theories taught in class are dry and difficult to comprehend. So we recommend that to provide lively examples to explain difficult-to-understand theories making it easier for students to relate to and understand.
    • leave more space between each point in the slides
      • Sufficient space should be left between bullet points in the lecture slides. This allows for easier reading and note making.
    • deliberately leave blanks in the lecture notes
      • This will encourage students to listen to the lesson attentively for fear of missing out important points
    • always get feedbacks from students before ending the lecture
      • This will allow students to clear any doubts about the lesson. If not, there is a tendency to accumulate them.

RMA Profile of MCM Jacket

MCM

Source: http://www.highsnobiety.com/home/the_daily_news/archive/2007/december/21/mcm_varsity_jacket/index.htm

Josh also known as Midnight D, 33 living in New York.

  • Josh is the only child in his well-to-do family. As the only child, his parents would get him whatever he wants. Ever since he was a child, he has been very gifted in sports and music. Throughout his schooling years, he has always been the best athletic in school. Josh has always been in the center of attention and he enjoys being under the limelight.
  • Josh is now a high-profile music producer who had work with hip hop rappers such as Snoop Dog and Missy Elliot and he is also an owner of an exclusive hip hop club. Josh loves the night life. He and his group of celebrity friends are always seen at the latest hotspots. As Josh works in the entertainment industry, he is very conscious of his image and appearance. In order to make sure that he is up-to-date with the latest fashion trends and always looking his best, he has hired a personal stylist and shopper. He loves to accessorize himself with “bling.” He purchases items are flashy that allow him to show off his wealth and attract attention. Josh is always at the gym working out or at his own basketball court shooting some hoops with his friends.
  • Josh owns many houses. Currently, he is living alone in penthouse in upper east Manhattan that comes equipped with its music studio. On nights when he is not out partying with his friends, he would throw a dinner party at his penthouse and invite his friends from high school and college to show off his interior-designed house, widescreen television and surround sound system.
  • He certainly enjoys keeping up to the latest technological trends and is often seen carrying with him the coolest gadgets. He enjoys meeting new people and likes to impress them with his gadgets and sense of fashion. He enjoys being exclusive. Collecting limited edition items could be considered one of his hobbies and MCM Varsity Jacket is one of his latest additions to his collection.

    Four-Pleasure Framework

    Physio-Pleasure:

    • Josh works in the entertainment industry where one’s appearances is of utmost importance. (Need Pleasure)
    • His love for sports did not stop after he graduated from University. He continued to play basketball with his friends.(Need pleasure)
    • He ensures that he is in good shape and always looking his best by hiring his own personal stylist and gym trainer. (Appreciation pleasure)

    Socio-Pleasure:

    • Josh loves and craves to be the center of attention all the time. (Need pleasure)
    • At the same time, he loves meeting new people and impressing them with his rich knowledge of other cultures, languages and musical instruments. (Appreciation pleasure)
    • Therefore, he always hold dinner parties at his penthouse. At the same time, he and his friends would often hang out at the latest hotspot in New York to be spotted by paparazzi.


    Psycho-Pleasure:

    • Josh loves to travel around the world because he gets to learn and interact with other cultures. (Appreciation pleasure)
    • Josh enjoys learning how to play new musical instruments. Currently, he is learning to play the chinese er-hu. (Appreciation pleasure)
    • He loves to keep up with the latest technology and gets a thrill from learning how to operate his newly acquired gadgets. (Appreciation pleasure)

      Ideo-Pleasure:

      • Josh is someone who knows what he wants in life and has always made all the major decisions in his life.
      • Josh believes in purchasing items that are reflective of one’s stage in life.
      • He is not satisfied with just being a successful music producer. His career goal would be to own his own recording label.

        Product Benefit Specifications

        Features

        • Huge user memory
        • Multi-language support function
        • SMS, MMS and email

        Appearances

        • Limited edition.
        • Stunning in terms of its appearances – Bling Bling
        • Can be used as a fashion accessory
        • Slim and lightweight

        Recommended Handphone
        Vertu

        Vertu Signature Diamonds Collection – White Diamonds

        Source: http://vertu.com/en/?

        Model
        Platinum Solitaire 210g

        Volume: 78cm3
        Length: 122mm
        Width: 42mm
        Depth: 15.5mm

        Performance
        High-performance 20mm handsfree loudspeaker
        Coverage in over 175 countries worldwide

        Features
        SMS
        MMS and email
        Multi-language predictive text input
        World cock
        Large User memory: 1000 names in phonebook, 220 calendar notes, 100 SMS
        Multi-language support.

        Visceral – Fossil Veiled
        Fossil Watch

        Visceral:
        The design of this watch is sleek and clever. It features a specially electroplated crystal which mimics the breaks in the bracelet and conceals the analog watch face. As such, this watch could double up as a bracelet.

        Behavioural:
        It does not have other functions except to tell time.

        Reflective:
        This timepiece is created by Philippe Starck who is sort of a celebrity in the designing industry. This watch could be worn to show off and used as a fashion statement.

        Behavioral – Adistar GT (Adidas)
        Adistar GT

        Behavioural:
        It boosts several functions such as shadow race, world time mode and countdown timer. These functions available are useful for the athletic training.

        Visceral:
        The Adistar GT is not visually pleasing and it looks kinda cheap to me.

        Reflective:
        Adidas is seen as a reliable and reputable brand in the sporting apparels and accessories line. A consumer of this watch would be seen as a serious athletic.

        Reflective – Tag Heuer Microtimer
        Microtimer

        Reflective:
        On nextag.com, this watch cost around US$4,200. Therefore only consumers with a huge salary are able to afford this watch. This watch is a symbol of social status and it is a great tool for showing off.

        Visceral:
        The design of the Tag Heuer Microtimer is simple yet strong which would appeal to the male consumers.

        Behavioural:
        Similar to Adistar, Microtimer has numerous functions and it boast a remarkable 1/1000th of second precision. However, I personally feel that the user must really study the user manual to make use of all the functions.

        The badly designed item in question is… the metallic and sleek-looking seats that now populate the MRT stations. In case you are one of those fortunate Singaporeans who doesn’t have to rely on public transport to get around, here’s a picture of the seat.

        the-thing.jpg

        High leg rest and sloping angle of seat

        Honestly speaking, it is quite aesthetically pleasing but it doesn’t serve its sole purpose – to rest those poor tired legs.

        Users’ feelings towards this thing above

        Jessica aka irritating lovely sister:
        “I think they should be called “butt rest” rather than chairs. They are not very comfortable because it “pushes” most of your body weight on your knees. Whenever I attempt to sit on the “butt rest”, i will end up sliding off it and I have to grip onto the sides so that I wouldn’t slip. It is especially hard when I am carrying heavy stuff.

        My friends would often say that we are better off standing than sitting on that “butt rest”.”

        My mom, woman of few words:
        “I always slide down that seat because it is too slippery.”

        Apparently, one blogger feels the same way about the seat.

        badly-designed-seat-at-work.jpg

        Lesson learnt from the interaction
        Both of them agreed that they are better off standing and putting their stuff on the seat.

        Impression on brand
        One word, “BAD.”

        My reflection on the product and user reaction
        Like others, I also find myself sliding down the seat all the time and holding onto the sides just so that I could stay put. I am sadly equipped with rather short legs so this means that my legs are dangling when I am “seated.”

        Similar seats could be found at bus stops but they are alright because they have “grooves” on the surface which make it less slippery and they come in various heights. It is rather obvious that the designer of this seat didn’t get others to try his/her product or he or she is blessed with very long limbs.

        To end off this post, I am very thankful that these useless seats are slowly getting replaced by normal ones. *hooray*

        new-and-improved.jpg