Interface Design

What does the product feel and look like?

RE: Perfectionism May Not Be Optimum

Tugend, A., (2011). “It’s Just Fine to Make Mistakes.” Visited on October 8, 2012: Experiment: A study was conducted comparing the productive abilities of participants testing high and low in “perfectionism”. The task was to rephrase a passage without interpretation for a panel of judges who were unaware of the status of the participants. The Outcome: Those rating high in perfectionism were judged to have passages “significantly poorer in quality”. This surprising finding can be attributed to a shortened process of learning in perfectionists, due to fear of failure and the loss of respect should a mistake be found. This isolation from feedback inhibits development. Additionally, the stress of perfectionism can be psychologically detrimental, further inhibiting learning especially in the face of failure. Interaction Design: For products with a high learning curve, built-in feedback could be considered when the product is not used as designed, and alternately when ideal conditions of usage are met. This would perhaps encourage experimentation and calibrate use. Interface Design: Friendly tone or customizable interface might also help to attract continued use. This could give perfectionists and non-perfectionists a positive working arena.

RE: Preloading and The Above-Average Effect

Valdesolo, P. (2010). “Flattery Will Get You Far.” Visited on October 8, 2012: A study suggests that flattery is effective, illustrating that even obviously manipulative comments play into the an individual’s high self-regard, affecting later behavior. This phenomenon, called the above-average effect, can be found for example in advertising. When a person views an advertisement showing an exaggerated response to a product’s use, their response in the aisle when making a choice, is measurably swayed. Sunlight, breezes, and smiling people in light sweaters walking through green pastures create a positive impression we remember when buying liquid laundry detergent of a certain brand, even if we know there is little rational correlation. Conceptual Design: The principle of the above-average effect could be used strategically. Research into a population’s background might give a picture of how to articulate a product; or, similarly, the idea of preloading expectations through associations in a programmed environment could be used to aim a particular audiences preferences or choices, or make rational jumps easier when transitioning from one experience to another. Interaction Design: “I want to be special!” Letting the user interact and uniquely configure their use of the product. Research into cultural background should be…

RE: Mac vs. PC gap is the narrowest since ’90s.

Gross, D. (2012). “Mac vs. PC gap is the narrowest since ’90s.” Visited on October 9, 2012: This article focuses on the recent trend that the ratio of Windows-based computers sold to Apple’s Macintosh computers is tightening to a 20-1 ratio. The article attributes this trend to the rise in use of portable computing and a perception that MacBook laptops are a superior product. Factoring in other portable devices from Apple such as iPods, iPads and iPhones decreases Microsoft’s sales advantage to a 2-to-1 ratio. Conceptual Design The article suggests that an integrated mobile device (laptop or hand held) that is perceived as a “better” product has led to the turnaround in sales for Apple in relation to Microsoft’s widows based PCs. When accounting for Apple’s smart phones and tablets the sales ratio tightens dramatically suggesting a post-PC era that will require product designers to think of new ways to take advantage of this portable computing trend. People spending more time on these non-PC devices threatens Microsoft’s Windows platform that has dominated the software industry for decades. Interaction Design The sales trend in a post PC world where devices are with you at all times suggests that people…

Group Color Preferences

Red Head Festival, crowd shot

The Color of the Redhead Festival… …is NOT red! An annual festival of redheads has been taking place in Breda, Holland, was held on 3 September of this year. Almost 2000 red heads from 52 countries gathered together to share and revel in their DNA, BBC corresponded Tim Allman reported. In the sea of red, what stands out is a clear preference for color green. Somehow, the color green become the unofficial uniform of the red-headed. It’s not like they all thought: “I think everyone will be wearing green, so should I.” More likely, redheads believe they look better in green. But when every one in the group shows up in green, it strengthen the bond. Red Delegates, Blue Delegates Check out this crowd shot of the republican convention. Notice any color that stands out? How about at the democratic convention? And here’s a lighting scheme for the democratic convention: The convention organizers used color as a reenforcement of political unity for the delegates at both conventions. Using Color to Cement Group Affiliation There are certain professions that signal group membership with color: white used to be the preference for doctors and scientists working at a lab; green or blue…

Design and the Olympic Games

Aerial Shot of the London Olympic Stadium

The Olympic Games are coming to a close and there are some interesting design decisions that seem worth mentioning. But let’s start with a cursory set of design requirements: safety, transportation, visibility and observability of events, entertainment, fairness, cultural sensitivity and appropriateness, and so much more. As with all design problems, divide and concur is a good approach: who are the audiences; what are their needs; what are the time, budget, and personal resources of the project; and what are the considerations (goals) of the sponsoring country. These are the basics of product design. From these variables, we can set priorities and deduce probabilities of errors and failures and how to accommodate them with design. Clearly, this is too much to cover in one blog, but here are a few thoughts… Safety There are many safety concerns in staging big, multinational events. Let’s first consider the different groups of individuals: safety for the participants, organizers, audience, supporting staff. We can break this down even more (by country, by sex, by religion, by location, by celebrity, etc.), but these are the large categories. It’s important to consider the safety for each group separately and provide supports as necessary. There are different…

Interface Design Failure: Man accidentally kills 40,000-sq-ft lawn due to packaging design

What can bad interface design do? Bad graphic? Bad packaging? There are people who think these don’t matter (I had a few clients like that), but here’s an example of how badly things turn out when interface design isn’t taken seriously. And here’s another example from one of my previous posts: eye medicine or super glue? You’d be the judge!

Optical Illusion — Peripheral Vision Distorts Faces into Grotesque Masks

Here’s an interesting optical illusion — by focusing on the center point of the image and using peripheral vision to observe the faces, the perception of the faces changes drastically, making what we culturally consider “beautiful people” into grotesque masks. In particular, watch the eyes. The eyes seem to grow in size and in proportion to the face. The effect in more pronounced with brown eyes.