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How has the innovation of touchscreen advanced or affected our ability to communicate?

      For one of my HCI classes, Usability for Handheld Devices, we had to comment on the article Mobile, Handheld Devices with Touchscreens: How Perceived Usability Affects Communication”.  The innovation of touchscreens has hugely impacted communication between people, removing many boundaries that existed before.  These boundaries include hardware, software, and mindsets of people.  I believe that Handheld Touchscreen Devices (HTDs) have given people another way to communicate.  How effective the communication is depends on the HTD itself (screen and body size) and it’s usability.  Birch states that if users find a communication feature unnecessary, useless, or frustrating, they will not utilize the modes of communication on the device to its full potential.  The results from Birch’s survey showed the following - users preferred haptic feedback and would benefit from it, text-related tasks were preferred, simpler GUI design is beneficial, and the small size of typical HTD screens pose navigation and orientation problems.  My thoughts are discussed below.

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Capabilities vs. Distinction

I really like this quote by Greg McKeown in his article, The #1 Career Mistake Capable People Make 

Being able to do many things is important in many jobs today. Broad understanding also is a must. But developing greater discernment about what is distinctive about us can be a great advantage. Instead of simply doing more things we need to find, at every phase in our careers, our highest point of contribution.”

I find myself in this position of wanting to be a jack of all trades, and unfortunately, that hasn’t put me in a position of anyone seeking me for anything OR multitasking and getting hit hard because I need to do well in each task.  Ugh.  Lesson learned - find that thing that sets you apart from others, and put the most effort in that.  In fact, dedicate your time and commit to getting better at the skill.

It’s interesting how this also comes into play for what features a product provides.  It’s great to have something do everything a user wants, but not only will that diminish the value of what the product provides best, but also confuse users about what it is best used for.  Like the 80/20 Universal Principle of Design states - about 20% of the activities we engage in are responsible for 80% of our success. The other 80% of the activities might be somewhat useful, but are not major contributors to the bottom line.



As part of a graphic design project for my masters, I had to create a dvd cover for a film that hadn’t been released on DVD yet. 



Stop. Listen. See.

The reason why I started this blog was to start talking about design, any design.  And unless we stop, listen to and see the environment we live in, we cannot make changes to it.  But let’s take it 1 step further…or simpler - observe the ordinary.

Tim Brown of IDEO suggests to make it a rule that at least once a day to stop and take another look at an ordinary situation that you would normally look at only once (or not at all) in his post.  Let’s do our minds a favor and stimulate it by just looking at the simple things.



school websites - who, why, how, and what more

For a class project, my team and I have chosen to redesign the Penn State website (see below for the current site) - Penn State’s pride and joy. Maybe? Maybe not!! Why did we choose this site? Here are the top reasons - considering users would be ranging from current to future students, parents, faculty, alumni and the general public of Pennsylvania.

1) Navigation is wack - there might be too many global navigation categories. Can it be reduced? YES. Can it be less ambiguous? YES. There are 2 navigation locations (right side, and under the slideshow), which will make me question “where do I look first, is this the right place?”.

2) There is lack of visual hierarchy among sections in the page except the big slideshow that draws your attention. Which is not a bad thing, but the rest of the content is not organized a pleasing layout which would help anyone on this site to find the information they are looking for. Visually unpleasing elements include labeling, coloring, and fonts sizes.

3) There is no consistency when going from main page to subpages within the site. Headers and navigation links change from the home page to “Undergraduate Admissions” for instance. In fact, I like that page better :)

4) And do we really need PennState to be displayed twice on the header?

Furthermore, a question that came up was - where is all the news about the recent sex abuse scandal. Should it be more prominent, or not? As a parent, would I expect to find this information clearly, or hidden in some area of the site? As a student, do I want my other friends to know I am going (went) to a school where there was such a news? For your information, any news about this scandal is located under “Progress” on the site. Who woulda thought it would be there? I’m glad that someone thinks Penn State is progressing forward after this scandal, but from an IA perspective, I wouldn’t think to look here. Where would you expect it to be found?



Why design?

It’s a great short video from the founder of Continuum. Design is like food. A good meal like a good design lets you connect and interact with people the way you should.



I love #3.  Considering how lot of our daily activity is on the computer in this technology-driven world, it takes a lot of thought to just say “let me get off this computer and go outside”.  I for one love being around nature, especially in the morning it is very refreshing and it calms my mind.  There is so much inspiration around that has always been around, but we don’t have time to recognize it.

I love #3.  Considering how lot of our daily activity is on the computer in this technology-driven world, it takes a lot of thought to just say “let me get off this computer and go outside”.  I for one love being around nature, especially in the morning it is very refreshing and it calms my mind.  There is so much inspiration around that has always been around, but we don’t have time to recognize it.



I didn’t take notice of the order of ‘OK’ and ‘Cancel’ buttons on my iPhone when the modals come up.  If you are using any application on iOS from Apple,  ’OK’ is placed last (right).  

I play the “DrawSomething” app on my phone a lot, and It BUGGED me as soon as I noticed it, and I noticed it the first time I used the “comment” feature for drawings.  The Cancel button is placed last instead.  Ughh!  I pressed it without thinking as I typed my comment fast and am ready to submit it.  Then the comment wasn’t there.  What happened???

The only reason this bugged me was because every other place on the iPhone (on iOS) the buttons were as Apple Human Interface Guidelines suggest - place is last.

Jakob Nielsen talks about this not-so-important aspect of Usability, but, it should be consistent based on the platform you are designing for.  That makes sense.  There are pros and cons for placing the OK first or last, but as mentioned on, applying consistent design follows user expectations.  BUG BUG BUG!



A step in the right direction

This is my first blog, and I decided to create one, so I can get better at writing, expressing my opinion, and analyzing things.  Analyzing what you ask?  Well, I am naturally a very analytical person (I am a Virgo after all) of everything and everyone, but I am immersing myself in talking about the “design of everyday things” :-)

I don’t want to limit myself in what I talk about.  I don’t just wanna talk about the tech world which I have been working in for 8+ years, but other areas as well - about things that are around me all the time.  For instance, I have a 3 year old son, who has numerous toys that are small, large, noisy, full of different parts.  I have to explain to him how to shoot a missile out of the toy or how to fix the Thomas train track that he loves so much.  Whenever I do explain to my son how to do something, I find myself analyzing why the toy designer decided to make it a certain why and why it wasn’t made another way.  It’s quite fun. Haha.

Anyways, I won’t bore you right away, so let me say this - if we as humans don’t pay attention to how we interact with people, products, and the environment we live in, we cannot make it better.



A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have
Steve Jobs