Tag Archive for visual processing

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:…

Perceptual Illusions

Our minds play tricks on us all the time. Once the information has entered our cognition via our senses, it still has to get processed to be understood. Like any other data, it’s all about context. For interesting examples of optical illusions, please visit http://www.lottolab.org/articles/illusionsoflight.asp. R. Beau Lotto has put together a few interesting examples of mis-processing! Or watch him deliver a talk at TED.

The History of Usability

NASA Space Shuttle SR-71 Blackbird U2 Cockpit Designs

When did we start being concerned with usability? Some will say that such concern is part of being human: cavemen worked their stone tools to get them just right. Interaction design mattered even then. But the field of usability research really came into being when the tools we used started to run up against our cognitive and physical limitations. And to avoid hitting literal, as well as psychological, walls, it was the aviation engineers who started to think about usability seriously. While cars were becoming ever more sophisticated and trains ever faster, it was the airplanes that were the cause of most usability problems around WWI. Cars were big, but didn’t go very fast or had a lot of roads to travel on at the turn of the century. In the first decade of the 20th century, there were only 8,000 cars total in the U.S. traveling on 10 miles of paved roads. In 1900, there were only 96 deaths caused by the automobile accidents. Planes were more problematic. For one thing, the missing roads weren’t a problem. And a plane falling out of the sky in an urban area caused far more damage than a car ever could. Planes…

Color Blind Design

Do you see any difference between these two images? About 10% of the male population (with up to 20% among some ethnic groups) do not. Do differences in the way individuals perceive and process color information matter? Sometimes… Consider this informational graphic: It’s easy to see how the information contained within this chart has been transformed and no longer carries the same meaning. Which is the right one? When designing information for communication, it’s important to consider the totality of the intended audience: What are their strength? What are their limitations? Like cognitive traits, perceptual differences have to be accommodated by good design. Some issues that individuals with deuteranope deficit (red/green confusion) face is inability to tell the difference between colored items that are too thin (lines), point sources, and blinking lights (think traffic lights blinking green or yellow). These problems effect real-life performance and can lead to accidents: think traffic light color confusion. It is the job of a product designer to reduce the difficulties these individuals face. You can use this URL to check your site for color blind usability: http://www.vischeck.com/vischeck/vischeckURL.php

Distilling Information

When it comes to my students’ participation in this blog, it’s all about distilling information found in the news to something product designers in our midst would find useful, on a practical level. Consider the illustration below. We see a person’s face (mine in this case). We can describe some of the features. But what do we actually remember? Remembering complex visual information is hard—too many details. Recalling a drawing is easier. That’s because an artist already distilled the complexity into its essential parts—only those details that are required to remind us of a particular individual are included in the rendering. We are all pretty good at judging wether a portrait looks like the person it was intended to represent. We can quickly say if it does or if it doesn’t. But it would be difficult to explain what details in the illustration make the likeness or what’s missing from the drawing that didn’t hit its mark. Distillation of information is hard. Some people are good at it, some are not. It’s an acquired skill. And each category (e.g. sensory like visual, audio, tactile or knowledge-based like physics, economics, biology) requires its own training and its own set of talents.…

A Disease That Allowed Torrents of Creativity.

Article: Blakeslee, S. (2008). “A Disease That Allowed Torrents of Creativity.” NY Times. Visited on 8 April 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/health/08brai.html This article gives an account of Anne Adams experience with the degenerative brain disease, frontotemporal dementia (FTP). The disease, whose cause is as of yet unknown, leads to the degeneration of the frontal temporal lobe. Three variants of the disease have been identified based on the types of behavioral changes exhibited in the patient.  The first is characterized by personality changes such as increased apathy, loss of motivation for personal care, and weight gain. The two other variants deal with language control. In one case the patient experiences a loss of language while in the other the spoken language network disintegrates such that the patient is no longer able to speak. Anna Adams had the third variant known as primary progressive aphasia (PPA). In Anna’s case, as one part of her brain deteriorated another portion strengthened in order to compensate/ or as a result of the nutrient availability/ or ???. From Anna’s and other patient’s cases, doctors have learned that “that when dominant circuits are injured or disintegrate, they may release or disinhibit activity in other areas. In other words, if one part…