What I found the most insightful about reading this article is adding a step to the creative process for product design, -that is to design a marketing page. This step would personally help me understand the product and or services on a a deeper level, and I truly wish I would have done this for those projects I worked on earlier in my college career. I’ve noticed that its easy to overlook the problem that you are trying to solve just because by nature the designer is eager to psychically begin creating or designing. A defined product means a better execution and strategy for how others will use your product. Zhuo also mentioned that it doesn’t have to be perfect or refined, which I thought was also helpful because creating a marketing page seems like a daunting task.
I would definitely be too concerned about content and it would quickly turn into a long project that really is just a small exercise. Overall the main point of the article is to design your beginning early. That is, to consider how you will introduce others to your product and also how to get them to use it again. While this requires more analysis during the research stage, it allows you to develop a clear understanding of what you want your product to be. Again, I feel like I am revisiting the concept that appearance is not as important as function, because without function, the consumer’s interest will be lost. Taking the time to fully understand your product in the beginning allows for the designer to discover how they can go about providing a functional product that meets the needs of their users.
The first thing that I picked up on was a quote that Underwood and a colleague of his live by, “plot on”. Its going through the mundane tasks that don’t seem to be so fun to get to a solution. I think this is an interesting topic because there will be times in life where we may feel that our professional life is routine. If you find a passion to overlook the boring monotonous tasks, such as Underwood’s passion for communication -you can find better fulfillment in your work and not become a “designer with no soul”. He also refereed to this “back and forth process” where we are sanding down the rough edges and coming back in to do it again and again.
I believe this is part of the process of refinement which leads to the final solution. Participating in the creative process has just been a part of my development and I haven’t really had the opportunity to analyze it on a deep level. Understanding the process helps you become better at your craft, I think this is the heart of the discussion. It hits on some emotional points in the field that I think that are beneficial to hear in order to personally improve as a designer and hopefully be more productive.
I also agreed with Underwood in that we as humans have not really evolved to better solutions in our everyday life because we have not learned how to better communicate. That resonates with me in that if I could improve in any way it could start with communication. There was some discussion about critiques,and that Underwood explained if your going to provide constructive criticism you have to additionally offer a new idea. I strongly believe in this, its almost like enforcing a better creative working environment and not leaving the other designer uninspired. When your on a team you gotta keep each other going some how, its just as much my responsibility as it is the designer that is getting critiqued.
The interesting thing about service design is that you are not trying to improve a product exactly, or a tangible object that you could possibly hold in your hand. It’s purely about customer service or the experience that you get within entering a specific environment. I have worked in customer service for over 5 years and have not once really thought about approaching it from a design perspective. It’s definitely more of a strategic way to solve a problem because technology is not always going to be the target for change, it could be something as simple as improving communications between the buyer and the seller, as I am experiencing with the current car sales brief.
It’s really taking the opportunity to analyze how sales are made and how that could be improved. Customer service is a continuation that keeps the business going and drives sales. With other design, it is often focused on the target audience or how a consumer may interact with a product, but it does not consider communications with the consumer and the sales associate. With services, it’s about considering the human senses, smell, taste, touch and how all these effect a consumers emotions…versus a purely visual/interactive experience. In regards to the car sales brief, we have considered an assimilator, however, I have realized buying a car can be an exciting experience and buyers want to smell the new car and feel it and absorb and take in all that they can.
The front-stage and back-stage model is also interesting, it corresponds to the food industry (back of the house & front of the house). The back of the house is what the buyer or consumer cannot see, but is the mechanism that is doing all the work. Both rely on each other, so creating a balance between the two makes for better business interactions. Unfortunately, there are a lot of employees that experience this imbalance day in and out and it makes for an unpleasant experience from all perspectives.
“If it isn’t under the floorboards, it’s a façade”. I think this a great metaphor for building a solid foundation of a product from the beginning stages of research. You can’t expect to find improvements and solutions without physically communicating and approaching the user. Personally, I am a shy person and the nature of this type of work can be difficult, however through our current project I am beginning to see the fruits of our labor, so to speak and seeing all the parts come together. I have a better grasp of the preparation it takes to launch a good product.
The reading also discusses the preparation for future outcomes, it is forward thinking. I have not had the opportunity to experience this, but in the classroom it is an opportunity to develop that skillset. “Be the filter, not the ground”, I found this section insightful because as a designer it is often common to be the one bringing the ideas, but from a UX perspective, you want the input of users – or user’s ideas to surface so that you can design a product that meets their needs. And YES! It is “difficult to find the words for what’s wrong….it’s hard to get to good”.
I suppose that where the motivation comes from in this line of work, and why we have teams, and user-testing, we can’t do it alone, a huge portion of design is communication, the visual design has just become smaller on the scale of importance. The last bit of advice I found useful, “are you prepared to adjust?” Having the ability to be flexible and change your direction when things get messy is going to strengthen you and help you get to the good through progression.
I found the chunking section really insightful, although I do recall learning short-term memory in my cognitive psych class but it’s something that I completely forgot about and didn’t think to apply to UX design. Colborne references the “seven plus or minus two rule” and reveals that now it may even be just four items. I found this interesting as it reflects our modern day and age where we are bombarded with large amounts of information from print to web. It is also something I touched on in my technical writing class a year ago, people skim over material constantly, so the quality, amount, and placement of content should be carefully planned. I feel good about our current direction in relation to how we intend to organize content because we have done it based on our user’s priority goals.
Another topic I found interesting was the debate between browsing and searching. Research showed that both were based on user’s preferences and that searching is not always preferred. With that said, while we were completing our journey maps, we touched on this topic a bit. Hypothetically the user was to be located in Florida and they were to search for the UV index. I personally could not find it on the competitor app we were using. Moving onto our next user, I then realized that to find the UV index it required me to scroll down. Our initial thoughts were to eliminate browsing because we do not want users to miss out on important information as I did in that example. At the same time, I am thinking about chunking, and wondering if we may need that extra space to separate some content. This is really when the visual design comes into play.
The way that Colborne also illustrated desire paths was something I found insightful because I never really thought about it but it completely relates to the design process. There are countless times that I have designed something and expected the user in return to use it the way I designed it to be used. –Because in my mind I’m thinking, “well it’s obvious to me…” Anyhow the analogy of a park with a stretch of grass reveals that people take their own paths regardless of the visual cues created to guide them in a particular path. Design is not just about the visual aspect, the research (UX etc..) is how we can begin to solve problems and improve everyday products and people’s lives. Assumptions are in general never good, but they can also have serious consequences on large scale projects, and you can’t assume all users behave the same way.
In chapter one, David Progue states, “People like to surround themselves with unnecessary power.” This analogy can definitely be applied to our current weather app competitors. Our competitors provide features from radar technologies that detect lightening to interactive maps of the earth’s atmosphere. These features are very informative but unsustainable to our intended target audience. These features are geared towards weather enthusiasts or meteorologists (aka the expert user) while the average or mainstream user needs simplicity, dependability, and adaptability. We hope to simplify our app. by providing content that is relevant to the user and as for adaptable, we would like to provide the opportunity for users to customize their content and display. Dependability for our target audience will ultimately answer the question: “does it get the job done?”
My original thoughts on adaptability was to implement customization, that way the user can choose items based on their needs which in return creates a more familiar & comfortable environment. However, ch. 2 provided a larger insight, “experts are interested in customizing their settings first…[while] mainstreamers value ease of control.” With that said, I am questioning our original game plan, if customization is no longer an option, our app definitely just got simpler…and now I ask, “is there such a thing as too much simplicity?”-In our case. Furthermore, “mainstreamers don’t want to build it from scratch”, that was definitely not the depth of customization we had discussed. The main idea was that users would have 3 basic questions to ask after opening the app (functioning as a short set-up), and based on those answers, the app would customize content. With user distractions mentioned in ch.2 as well, I don’t know if that will be effective.
What we really need to do is to prioritize features and content and focus on basic improvements as discussed in the book. Moving forward I think prioritizing the users goals will help us the most. However, I feel like all of our original ideas are having to be reconsidered, and now I wonder what features we will choose to keep, because although we do want to keep it simple, we don’t want to make it boring. And the reading has a great response in regards to my doubt: “Don’t be tempted to judge the value of your product by the number of features. Instead, consider how well it meets the user’s high-priority goals.” With that said, we may need to re-conduct interviews with the focus on the user’s priorities.