Journal Summary

Before enrolling in Theories and Practice of Interactivity, interaction design was not a foreign concept, but it wasn’t something to which I gave a whole lot of thought or analysis. Sure, there were gadgets, software and devices that I found either extremely user-friendly, or extremely frustrating. But I’d never applied the kinds of theory and principles to these experiences that we discussed in class and read about in our texts.

For our first Journal Entry, we were to write about several different video game experiences we participated in during class. Ranging from the Wii to text-based online games, it covered the wide spectrum of gaming. While certainly a fun way to start the quarter, it also served as a good jumping point for the remainder of our lectures and class exercises. Nintendo’s Wii console was certainly the most unique and is a shining example of how far interaction design has come in the video game world. The concept is simple: when you move, the character on screen mimics your movements. Many people are so enthralled with the controls that they overlook the design process that went into the console itself. Nintendo engineer Ashida Kenichiro has this to say about the design: “If it’s too much a toy, it won’t fit into the area around the TV. If it’s too much of an AV machine, it loses its charm as a design of an entertainment machine” (Reimer). The article goes on to state how the console was designed small due to the necessity of placing it in close proximity to the television in order for the motion sensing to work properly and accurately. To me, it was surprising that the Nintendo team was hesitant to make the console small. It seems like a smaller and more compact design would be preferable to most of Nintendo’s customers.

Journal Entry #2 allowed me to really focus on a Web site and what makes it work/not work. I’ve used Expedia in the past, and applying Nielsen’s Usability Heuristics to the site design made me realize how, though easy to use, Expedia is not that user-friendly when compared to a site like Kayak. I used some of these guidelines when providing feedback on the interactive holiday card that we are developing at my job. When writing descriptive and instructional copy for each step of the interactive process, it’s important to maintain consistency throughout so the user’s experience is as smooth as possible.

Our guest speaker from the Xbox team provided the fodder for Journal Entry #3. Once again we examined video games, this time Microsoft’s successful Xbox console. The significantly simplified and streamlined designed of the 360 made me think of Maeda’s book, and how his rules apply to the console. Reduction, organization and knowledge all seem to be integral ingredients of the 360’s revamped look and feel; from the controller, to the graphical interface of the menus. It appeared that Microsoft really took into account their knowledge of product design, and combined it with user feedback to generate a truly revolutionary gaming system. After doing a little research, I found this to be true. This image illustrates the process by which all aspects of the design were intended to converge:

0406_framing

As you can see, the design team really tried to integrate their brand into the design of the console. Don Coyner, General Manager of Design and Planning at Microsoft said “It is critical that you really have a team of people on brand and industrial design who understand the holistic customer experience and that it isn’t thought of as piecemeal. This experience might start from the retail display and continue through purchasing a product, handling the packaging, opening the box and exposing the product, removing and then turning on the product for the first time, etc. This entire experience must reflect the message the brand statement is trying to make” (Kemp).

0406_xbox_venn

A true collaborative effort, the story of the Xbox 360’s design is one that can be studied in much more detail than I have room to get into in this summary.

By the time Journal Entry #4 came around, we were ready to apply Moggridge’s theories to a list of pre-selected case studies. I chose American Apparel from Method’s site. The \ photo viewer on AA’s home page was something I was familiar with even before I read Method’s case study. The design is clean, and there are no real instructions for what the user needs to do. However, by simply playing with and exploring the interface, the user will discover how easy it is to navigate between photos. This is a great example of a simple interface that performs beautifully and exactly how you expect it to. It’s fluid and provides feedback to the user when they move their mouse around.

For our fifth and final Journal Entry, we were to write about a non-electronic object that preferably did not contain any sort of screen. I chose my dishwasher rack, although I could have picked a doorknob, my exercise ball, my razor or any number of objects around my house. This final assignment let me apply some of the principles of design to the non-digital world. Even though I interact with these objects every day, I never took into account the design principles that are involved in their inception.

Overall, COM 597 was a satisfying experience and our journal entries gave us a good opportunity to express our thoughts on a weekly basis. As an employee at a marketing agency, I am surrounded by design every day even though I am not a designer by trade. However, I plan on using what I’ve learned in this class to contribute feedback on projects here, and I one day hope to move into a strictly digital work environment. There, my knowledge of interaction design will surely give me an advantage over non-designers w hen it comes to giving feedback on a project or concepting a new Web site, mobile application or user interface.

Reimer, J. (2006). How the Wii was born. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from Ars Technica. http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/wii.ars

Kemp, D. (2006). Collaboration and the creation of the Xbox 360. Retrieved December 2, 2008, from Core 77. http://www.core77.com/reactor/04.06_xbox.asp

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~ by cvellis on December 2, 2008.

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