Cognitive Blindness

Inability to really know how others think and how their cognitive processes are different from our own.

Lessons to be Learned from the GAP Logo Debacle

Geoghegan, T. (2010). “Lessons to be learnt from the Gap logo debacle.” BBC News Magazine. Retrieved on October 12, 2010: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11517129 A new logo can brighten up a company’s image or enrage loyal customers. In the case of GAP, the latter was obvious. The release of the new logo led to a huge online backlash from customers on FB and twitter conveying how unhappy they were with the logo. Within a week of release, GAP chose to revert back to the original logo after a slew of criticism. GAP LOGO The importance of being an iconic brand has been severely undervalued. The association of the image and brand is overlaid in the minds of people for the last 20 years. Changing the visual must have pre empted GAP to have tested the logo with focus groups and understand the reactions of the audience.  The changed their visual imagery without upsetting customers. The logos below have retained their sense of familiarity which is refreshing and yet without really giving customers the need to process an all together new image to associate with the brand. Companies uniformly moved from serif font to a more elegant Helvetica. MSNBC LOGO GE LOGO Product Positioning:…

Japanese Playing a New Video Game: Catch-Up

Tabuchi, H., “Japanese Playing a New Video Game: Catch-Up.” New York Times Online. Visited on October 4, 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/technology/20game.html?_r=1 This article discuss how Japan is partnering with Westerns in the gaming industry. In the mid 1980s’ through 1990s most game franchises were developed from Japan. Some of Nintendo’s Mario, Pokemon, Sonic the Hedgehog from Sean and Gran Turismo from Sony. Japan is now at least five years behind in the industry. The best selling game was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 which was developed in the United States. Concept Design: Japan use to define the gaming industry. Part of it’s problem is that they need to appeal to players that are located overseas. Interaction Design: Developers want to try and reach out to the West and collaborate. Collaboration in trying to make games have a more global appeal can possibly generate a bigger target audience. Capcom for example developed Take Shadow of Rome. This 2005 action game was made for European and American markets. Instead of designing over sized samurai swordsmen they designed over sized gladiators. Interface Design: The interface design are collaborating with people from overseas and learn their culture in order to appeal in the market. They…

Sizing Up Consciousness by Its Bits

Zimmer, C., (2010). “Sizing Up Consciousness by Its Bits.” NYTimes.com. Visited on October 3, 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/science/21consciousness.html Carl Zimmer’s article “Sizing Up Consciousness by Its Bits” for The New York Times seeks to introduce and explore a relatively new area of research into human consciousness. In interviews with the medical researcher Dr. Giulio Tononi, the article discusses current and past conceptions of consciousness and its’ implications for our interactions with each other and with our environment. Given the importance of consciousness in everyday human life, one would reasonably assume that at this time science would have a detailed understanding of consciousness and how it functions. This is not the case, however. Despite centuries of philosophical debate, medical research, and technological development, humans are largely in the dark, so to speak, about what creates and maintains the spark of consciousness. In the context of our currently vague understanding, Dr. Tononi’s research proposes a novel way of conceptualizing consciousness. Dr. Tononi’s goal is to apply the theories of informational networks to the human brain, in a method he terms “Integrated Information Theory.” This theory, hereafter referred to as IIT, seeks to understand the human brain as an integrated network of nodes (neurons in…

Thinking About the Future of Reading

The Taxonomy of Usefulness We are a family with two Kindles, three iPads, two iPods, and an iPhone. We also have a few thousand old-fashioned paper books stored on bookshelves in every nook and cranny of our home: bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, stairs, garage, closets, family room, and any other space and surface that might hold a book or two or ten. We are into reading! And we use our Kindles, iPads/Pods/Phone, and computers to read as well. And while statistically speaking, we make just four data points for four family members, I feel we have something interesting to say about using technology to read. To help me understand my own relationship with reading and technology, I’ve come up with a little Taxonomy of Usefulness. If you’ve been reading this blog (or my books and papers), you’d have noticed that I like to slice up the world into groups sorted by a set of variables that I find useful at the time. Forming categories helps me think—the Cognitive Wheel is a prime example. Taxonomy of Usefulness These variables help derive the value of the electronic reading devices. Ergonomics There are many attributes to consider when describing the ergonomics of a device,…

Re “Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception”

Svitil, K., (2008). “Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception.” California Institute of Technology. Visited on October 4, 2010: http://media.caltech.edu/press_releases/13091 This article is a research study about how the region of the brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex showed higher activity when participants drank wines at a higher price. A wine tasting study was conducted at the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University. Twenty volunteers tasted five wine samples at different retail prices: $5, $10, $35, $45 and $90 per bottle. The volunteers tasted and evaluated which wines that they found more pleasurable. Two out of five of the wines were the same but one was priced at $10 and one at $90. In the experiment the subjects rated and preferred the $90 priced wine more than the $10, although they did not know that they tasted the same wine. Cognitive Design What does the product do? In this study the cognitive design was a wine tasting experiment. The concept of the research was to experiment on the perception of price on different wines.  The setting was controlled in that the subjects did not know that they tasted the same wine but told that the price was different. While tasting…

Working with Clients

We once had a client who made his secretary drive to our studio with a piece of a carpet from his office to be used as a color swatch for his company’s new logo. And while the final logo looked okay (very logo-like), it did little to represent the company’s brand. The company is no longer around today. Having a client who opines on the color of the background, choice of typeface, thickness of line, or layout mars the design process. It’s easy to get lost in details and personal preferences—who is to say that green is better than orange? A good designer has to be able to manage the client, keep the conversation focused on business goals and user needs. But before we can delve into the design process, we have establish trust. Clients need to feel like they’ve been listened to, they have to know and understand that design is hard work, and they have to buy into our expertise. The First Date The initial group meeting between the design firm and their client tends to feel like a first date: this is a chance for everyone to declare their expertise and expectations of each other. And like a…

Skin-deep Usability

The Universal Remote Control Story A few years ago, we got a Star Trek phaser universal remote control as a gag gift for the holidays. As any universal remote control (URC), it was supposed to control any and all devices that were hooked up to our TV and do it with a flair of shooting a phaser at the general direction of our equipment. A few days later, it was relegated to our sons’ toy box, and now I wouldn’t even know where to look for the thing. Big buttons, footballs, phasers, UFOs, futuristic control centers—the makers of universal remote controls have tried them all. But consumers still buy one URC after another in the hope of finding something that would work for them. Why are these things so darn hard to use? Manufacturers seem to believe that by giving their products a friendly, toy-like appearances, these devices would seem more user-friendly and easier to use. But, personally, I don’t want a giant ball in middle of my kitchen table or rolling around my living room floor. I don’t want the kids to toss footballs to control the channels or fire phasers to lower the sound. I just want something…