12 Forbes Terrace
Pittsburgh, PA 15217










Saturday, February 7, 2004

miLife User Research
Aside from observing in malls, ski lodges, coffee shops, and other public spaces, my team has created an online questionnaire. If you have ten minutes to spare and are over the age of 18, please help us out by filling it out.

posted at 04:29 PM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Friday, February 6, 2004

Analogous Colors
Analogous colors are those that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. To use them well, you need about three or four of them in a row. Examples are Red, Orange, and Yellow or Blue, Green, Yellow, for example. Use mainly primary and secondary colors, only putting in tertiary colors if you really have to. It's unwise to farther than one primary color on the wheel.

Useful for showing gradients on maps.

posted at 01:46 AM in design 101 | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, February 4, 2004

MAYA Design Methods
MAYA Senior Interaction Designer Heather McQuaid dropped by Studio to talk about MAYA's research methods and, specifically, a case study on the Carnegie Library system. They used a couple of interesting methods that are worth noting:

  • Direct Experience Storyboarding. Three different MAYA researchers took three different ways to get a book from the library. They took pictures of each step in the process and wrote notes, then combined them, writing the notes onto the pictures to provide a storyboard of what was going on, plus commentary.
  • Basic Components. They broke down the library system into basic components, then strung them together into a very general narrative that explained all the activity there. USERS go through ORGANIZERS (space, categorizations, people) to get to MATERIALS/ACTIVITIES in order to USE/PARTICIPATE.
  • Breakpoints. Once they had personas (9 of them total), they moved them through scenarios that interacted with all those basic components, mapping them on a really cool chart to show where the system failed. These spots were called "breakpoints." These became areas of design activity.
  • Tiger Teams. A type of participatory design, where stakeholders in the library system teamed up with MAYA employees to try to design what the ideal library situation should be. Each team made its own experience to correct breakpoints. They were encouraged to think big, then scale down.

All in all, an interesting case study with some meaty techniques to consider.

posted at 05:17 PM in special guest stars, techniques | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Color for Comparison
A quick lesson from Karen Moyer today: when using a single color to indicate a scale (1-100, say), in general, use a true color for the most prominent thing in the range (in this case, 100). Then add white to the color to lighten it for the lesser amounts/levels on the scale.

posted at 11:49 PM in design 101 | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Home-CMU Map
Our second project for Mapping & Diagramming class was to make a map for this scenario: an old friend is in town and wants to get from your house to the M&D classroom.

My first solution was a hand-drawn map with some instructions, but after everyone else busted out Illustrator and InDesign, I broke down too and made my final map (pdf 40k).

For a comparison in styles, you can check out Rob's map too.

posted at 11:31 PM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Monday, February 2, 2004

Chili Dogs
Professor Shelley Evenson and her husband John Rheinfrank hosted a party for grad students and faculty at their house on Saturday night, serving up chili, wine, and the company of their two Bernese Mountain dogs, Frasier and Liza. As Maggie put it, it was the type of party that one imagines happens all the time when you're a grad student (but in reality seldom does).

A personal highlight for me: the set of Roycroft dinnerware!

posted at 09:51 AM in extracurricular | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Special K
Recent classmate now HCI alumni Kenneth Berger is leaving Da Burgh, headed towards the SF Bay Area and a usability job at Macromedia, working on Dreamweaver. It's a swank job at a prestigious company. I wish him well.

posted at 09:25 AM in alumni | comments (1) | trackback (0) | link


Sunday, February 1, 2004

Design and Emotion
Design Seminar this week was about design and emotion: how can designers use emotion in the creation of products? Designers generally lack a shared understanding and language about emotion in the context of design.

Emotions form the "basement of experience," to use Jodi Forlizzi's phrase. It is integral to plans, actions, outcomes, and our interactions with products.

There are two types of emotion: emotional responses and mood. Emotional responses are the brief, sharp waves of feeling that cause measurable activity in the nervous system and are attributable to some direct cause. Mood is longer, and free-floating, with a less intense effect. Designers are more likely to design for mood than for emotional responses.

Emotional responses are less representative of the environment and more representative of the self. The opposite is true of mood.

Emotion supports feelings (seconds and minutes), moods (days and hours), and changes in behavior (weeks, months, years). Emotions shape plans, how our future actions might be. They coordinate planned activities with artifacts in the environment and evaluate the outcomes of activities. For example, if you have a terrible experience with a car and associate it with feelings of anger and disgust, you probably won't plan to purchase that car any time soon. Conversely, as Don Norman points out, we think that attractive things work better.

Products support both our functional and aesthetic needs, yielding different emotions. These emotions can change over time, and because they do, humans tend to develop complex relationships with certain products. Emotions affect more than just aesthetics; they can affect everything about a product.

Implications for Design
It's difficult to apply the theories of emotion towards the creation of products. Two forms of data that are currently useful to designers: self-evaluating ("I'm feeling happy") and physiological (heart rate, etc.).

Products can shape emotional experiences in three ways:

  • Stimuli for new experiences. Interaction and sensory stimulation are catalysts for new emotional experiences.
  • Extenders on ongoing experiences. Style, utility, enjoyment and other sustaining qualities extending ongoing experiences. I call this the "cigarette after sex" effect.
  • Proxies for past experiences. Associations with products can form proxies for previous experiences.

There are a lot of issues around designing for emotion. For one thing, it's fairly untested. For another, there's not much methodology for it. Social relationships are ignored, and there's been no examination of whole systems.

This is an interesting area, but without the methodologies or even solid case studies where designers have set about to create specific moods to draw upon, it's tough to put this stuff into practice, except on the highest of levels, which likely most good designers do anyway. This should be a rich area of study over the next couple of years though.

posted at 11:22 AM in big ideas, design theory | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


‹‹ preceding entries




All straight lines circle sometimes. - The Weakerthans