Monday, January 31, 2011

NEW YORK TIMES:speculation

Needless to say, the New York Times newspaper is messy. There is no hierarchy. the search bar at the top of the web page changes when you go from section to section, and the articles are sporadic. It seems to me that much of the information could very well be consolidated so as to make it much easier to navigate through the website. The way it is now, if you wanted to find or re-find a particular, it will be much more difficult than it needs to be. However NYT does make use of the search bar which is handy if you know what you are looking for.

It is helpful that sometimes the different option bars (for choosing major topics) are in more places than one, but they take different forms in different places. consistency is the key.
They try to show too much information at the same time — however many lines they make to section things off, it's still a lot of information that is see all at once. Things can be more compartmentalized. however it is important to keep minimal links (clicks) and it is most helpful to use certain conventions such as scroll boxes within the windows.
dont make me thing: chp. VI
the 95% and follow up.



It is always important to not loose the interest of the reader. You should use the space that you have in a thoughtful way in order for the reader to ease their way through their user experience.
You do this through making an easy-to-see visual hierarchy. (make more important things bigger or with color, use a good amount of whitespace, avoid distracting noise of any kind, and keep things consistent so that a thread of related information can easily be followed).

There are particular tools that can be utilized in order for users to view information more practically. A convention is generally something that a user has had experience with or can figure it out pretty easily. There's always a better or different way of doing something — according to everyone who does things their own way. But a convention should not be subject to individual interpretation. and it is always important to remember that a new convention can very well be developed.

A person easily looses interest if there is too much stuff to look at. they need to have clear options that can easily be acknowledged, yet ignored — but can still be remembered and referable. And, clearly mark buttons which function with no extra surprises again to ease the user experience.

Consistency is the key for making sure that the user is able to remember where he/she is and know where they are.

COMPILED RESEARCH: kelsey/joseph

    • Defining a Baby Boomer


    Beginning with the secondary research, we thought it would be a good idea to see what makes this generation worth having its own name. Baby boomers are all of the Americans born between the years 1946 and 1964 beginning after World War II ended(this is also a generation in other countries like Canada, Australia, Great Britain, etc. But they have different names for this group in those countries) . Now, this group is about 29% of the population, about 75 million. But it's not just the time in which they were born. More definitely, it is the time during which they grew up that makes them so special.

    BabyBoomerHeadQuarters is a great overview source for this. Fascinating stuff!


    • Boomers represent the majority of the work force, although, this is beginning to shift.
    • The huge growth of the economy is because of boomers reaching their peak earning and spending years.
    • Biggest buying group, currently-dominating big-ticket spending in areas like travelling (vacations), car sales, etc.
    • Day care centers largely came to existence because boomers (so they also began the shift from staying home to take care of their kids)
    • largely, advertising has been following this generation since they were kids. The story goes like this:

    30 million baby boomers are around by 1950. Who comes along? Gerber, now probably the best known baby food company. The kids start to grow, and so does the toy industry, at a ridiculously fast pace. TV is just becoming big. So is children's programming. Disneyland pops up in in the 1950s as well. Later, in the 70s (now that the kids are a little older) Disneyworld is build and filled with thrill rides. Flashy cars of the 60s and 70s are also a result of catering to the Boomers.

    Other products that are getting big because of this subculture: "active retirement communities and vacation homes, skin creams, tooth whitening goo, cosmetic surgery, lasik surgery, Depends, and, of course, the Hair Club for Men."*

    And because I don't want to type this all out, I'll copy this directly:

    Social Impact:

    "Aside from that, what impact on society are boomers having? Well, let's see now... the CEO of General Electric is a boomer; the CEO of IBM is a boomer; the CEO of Ford is a boomer; Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) are boomers; Steve Jobs is a boomer; Steven Spielberg is a boomer; Ron Howard is a boomer; Tom Hanks is a boomer; Denzel Washington is a boomer; Meg Ryan is a boomer; Michael Jordon is a boomer. The producers of most TV shows and movies are boomers. The editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal (Paul Gigot) is a boomer. Rush Limbaugh is a boomer; Oprah is a boomer; Barack Obama is a boomer; Mitt Romney is a boomer. Madonna is a boomer; Bruce Springsteen is a boomer; Tom Cruise is a boomer; David Letterman is a boomer; Jay Leno is a boomer; Dr. Laura is a boomer. Clarence Thomas is a boomer; Sean Hannity is a boomer; Glenn Beck is a boomer; Al Gore is a boomer; Bill and Hillary Clinton are boomers; Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve System, is a boomer; Sarah Palin is a boomer; Osama bin Laden is a boomer; George Bush is a boomer; Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is a boomer; every potential candidate for the Supreme Court for the next 20 years will likely be a boomer."

    25 Defining Images in Baby Boomer History - pretty self-explanatory

    Wikipedia Information

    "As a group, they were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time."

    "In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about.[4] This rhetoric had an important impact in the self perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon."


    "Jones Generation" - the second half of the baby boomers generation. The name comes from the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." Supposedly, the Jonesers were given huge expectations as children in the 60s, and then were confronted with a different reality in the 70s and 80s. Also, it seems they are "less optimistic, distrust of government, and general cynicism."

    "Golden Boomers" - Boomers who are retired or will retire from an occupation or profession.

    In the 1985 study of US generational cohorts by Schuman and Scott, a broad sample of adults was asked, "What world events over the past 50 years were especially important to them?" For the baby boomers the results were:

    • Baby Boomer cohort #1 (born from circa 1946 to 1955), the young cohort who epitomized the cultural change of the sixties
    • Baby Boomer cohort #2 or Generation Jones (born from circa 1956–1964)
      • Memorable events: Watergate, Nixon resigns, the Cold War, lowered drinking age in many states 1970-1976 (followed by raising), the oil embargo, raging inflation, gasoline shortages, Jimmy Carter's imposition of registration for the draft, disco music from Donna Summer and The Bee Gee's, punk or new wave from The Clash and Deborah Harry and techno pop to Annie Lennox and MTV.
      • Key characteristics: less optimistic, distrust of government, general cynicism
      • Key members: Douglas Coupland who initially was called a Gen Xer but now rejects it and President Barack Obama who many national observers have recently called a post-Boomer, and more specifically part ofGeneration Jones

    CURRENT CONCERNS (pre interview assumptions)

    "Baby Boomers control over 80% of personal financial assets and more than 50% of discretionary spending power. They are responsible for more than half of all consumer spending, buy 77% of all prescription drugs, 61% of OTC medication and 80% of all leisure travel."*

    boomers start retiring during 2007–2009.

    With a grain of salt, since this is from a 1993 article:

    42% of baby boomers were dropouts from formal religion, a third had never strayed from church, and one-fourth of boomers were returning to religious practice. The boomers returning to religion were "usually less tied to tradition and less dependable as church members than the loyalists. They are also more liberal, which deepens rifts over issues like abortion and homosexuality."

    As of 1998, it was reported that, as a generation, boomers had tended to avoid discussions and planning for their demise and avoided much long-term planning.

    Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and death and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care.

    Alzheimer's Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers

    Retirements Swallowed by Debt


    Continuing work after retirement

    New Issues as Boomers continue to Age

    Social Security Insecurity

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reading response


Traditionally, we have been educated to focus on the things that we are told important. We have to follow an artificial path which leeds people away from their true creative potential. I thought that was an interesting thing to note. Wurman questions

Wurman talked about the flood of information which grows and grows with every new decade. It has become necessary in some way to organize this information. but how. and who should organize it? ~ Information is how we understand and refer to any topic whether it be data about government, history, economics, etc. "Information is everything. We are what we read." (Wurman).

The designer should be a part of the process when information is put forth from one set of people to another. It use to be the case (fortunately now things have changed) that the designer just made things pretty. But now the designer is much more involved with the whole process of development. The designer should not only choose the typeface, he should be structure things so that they are user friendly. no one wants to read a thousand words if they can just as easilly get the same information if it were to be organized in the right way. Theoretically, a designer is the one who best knows how to do this.

Information is organized by:
  • Location
  • Alphabet
  • Time
  • Category
  • Hierarchy

analyzing NYT interface

The following is a visual comparison of the New York Times newspaper interface and the NYT webpage interface. In my group we noted the benefits of the online version: you can use the word search feature, rich media, motion, rich media (motion, gifs, podcasts, etc), user ratings, more information that is easily accessible, share articles with friends, and easily find old articles.

Front page of NEW YORK TIMES: ARTS (news print)

Home page of NYT:ARTS (web page)
Average # of articles was 19

Article page of NYT:ARTS (news print)

Article page NYT:ARTS (web page)
Average # of articles was 1

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Lecture notes:


DESIGN RESEARCH: ( lecture. first day of class):

design research,

.justify your approach because of research

.research is not to be substituted for own personal judgement

.helps broaden ideas: and design projects.


social scientists who look at current human behavior:

study of people,

anthropology + scienc

observer, analyze, theorize, publish

qualitative (subjective) vs. quantitative (...?)


a designer must use the research to make sure that they can find the best way to effectively communicate to their audience - through factual knowledge


the designer communicates to/for the audience:

-audience observes, USER interacts with design, and participant interacts and gives feedback (offer a co-creation with diesigner).

-sub-cultures: no one design fits all. research offers diversity and accuracy = effective design. (an interpretive commnunity that shares characteristics (ie values, identity, commitment, perpose for being in subculture, what is their goal, their philosophy, communication mode, verbal language, Visual language, style, shares preferred media, etc)

-practitioner titles: there are different titles for dif designers who focus on certain things (ie...?) but really if you consider this DESIGN RESEARCH you should cover all of that.

- collaborative



1. RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES (note: be prepared when you go to do real research - plan).

choose one of these***:

-Observe: shadow (see and not have to interact and so you get an honest example of what they do), behavioral mapping, guided tour, gain trust, still photo survey (offers visual, photographic evidence), artifact mining (take a personal inventory of stuff - see all the things that are important in their environment).


}interview (***required) - be prepared with questions - a script

}survey + questionnaires - avoid questions that end with yes or no. get a story. record with notes (or video or audio). get time.

}why? + what if?

give a leave behind. carefully designed. contact info.

-Prompt: (choose one***)

}camera journals - photo ethnogrophy: ask them to do the photo. describe and write in a journal - they document the journal for you - so you get more perspective. so DESIGN A JOURNAL for them.

}drawing/maping prompt - get them to visualize through mapping their stuff. ask them to draw their own inventory.

}collage - ask them to make a collage. words, or images. thrown together. then ask them to explain. (notes).

}culture probes: self contained kit. ie a game or a map - to look for connections - open ended.


}secondary research. look at already published research. (as appose to the primary research above^)

}properly cited.

get started on the probes today.

(remember examples)




personas - insightful understanding of a subculture. - summarize the subculture. a profile that includes visual and textual information that describes the person and their roles. something that designers use to guide their design interventions. especially useful in interactive and product design.

}picture, name, quote, tagline


}basic demographies/ ergonomicts (age range, status, etc)

}expert+ novice:

-not a real person (hypothetical). - YOU NEED ONE OF EACH ***

visual/verbal audit - get a verbal and visual idea of their environment.

}physical manifestations: where do they live. what music do they like, visual symbols, style.

}graphic landscape.


}language - learn to speak their language. get as close as you can. pay attention to HOW THEY TALK. how they ask and answer questions. are they emotional people, happy sad,

}coded references - there is terminology that are in subcultures that other people might get. visual and verbal codes.

ask analysis- understand points of intervention. map out tasks (get desicion points) (or experience diagram)

} diagram descriptor - map out decision points of your subject, critcal moments, problems, (so that you can solve that obstacle as a designer, AND: players - points of interaction, obstacles.

affinity diagram - look at values.

}values, goals, needs - motinvatoins. - think communication models.

}cluster concepts - gruoping things that go together, (Visually. pam out how the subculture work togehter becasue of common intereest.

}overlapping social concerns - identify ANY overlapping broad concerns that identify with the subculture.

...sometimes people dont know what they need.



do the 3 readings. short.




Design research: Laurel (editor)

The intro of the first passage that we were to read talks about the importance of current design. It use to be easier for designers and the commercial world when there were fewer outlets and a more basic philosophy in regards to selling an idea or product to a wide audience. Over the more recent decades, a great number of diverse subcultures have emerged, and the all have their own specific demands. Therefore the current designer must be prepared to cater to whomever and whatever, wherever. That's why a designer must now be very savvy on their design research methodologies.

qualitative design research is a concentration on a targeted audience. A designer must consider all aspects of the audience to which he wants to sell an idea — their life style, personal preferences, methods of communication, etc. These things are learned by listening and observing the audience. Primary research is the key. Surprisingly this is a fairly new practice in graphic design — according to C. Ireland. He was one of the pioneers of this new design research methodology (around the '80s). He found that acquiring more specific information about the audience and what their expectations and preferences were for something were more valuable than the preferences of theoretical assumptions of the professional world. The researcher became part of the production team.

I'ts interesting to note that in the development process, the researcher would break away from simply discussing topics with the audience, and actually would have them create more artistic (and expressive) images, movies or musical pieces that would offer more insight.

Ethnography could be seen as a sub-category of anthropology. It is a tool that has proved very useful to design. It is through ethnography that the designer is able to understand that design artifacts derive their meaning from the multiple ways people consumer and integrate those artifacts through interaction. The designer must design through the eyes and mind of his audience — thus making for a methodology that creates successful and effective design. We saw such committed methodologies first with anthropologist who even spent time living with indigenous people simply to get an accurate understanding of their culture. As scientists, anthropologists must have clear, scientific ways of conveying the information that they have acquired. Designers must also follow a similar methodology. Looking back in design history, such methodologies have been touched on even by the constructivist philosophies of the Bauhaus (Germany) and the Kunstgewerbeshule (Switzerland) which had begun to look at social and scientific based design.

The design research methodologies varied according to their originators. Written word was not good enough for conveying research — visual data and data conveyed by the subject also became important to anthropologists and contemporary designers. Later, research would be acquired by newer methodologies that utilized newer technology such as video and audio interviews, and online participation with the subject audience.




"Designing for Interaction: Design Research (Dan Saffer)

Saffer's analogy of the zoo is a good one I think. It brings to light the dependency of Design on research. Despite that, Safer points out that not everyone appreciates the benefit of design research.

Saffer says, "
It behooves designers to understand the emotional, cultural, and aesthetic context that the product or service will exist in. Only through research can designers find out". One does this through the fairly well established practice of design research. Laurel supports this statement: "
When users are invited in throughout the design process for research purposes (to help generate ideas, discuss concepts, and test prototypes), it is often called participatory design (PD)."

Design research is mostly qualitative as appose to quantitative. Qualitative design seems to be focused more on subjective aspects. It is,"is (arguably) more subjective, based on smaller, targeted sample sizes, and is concerned more withhow and why questions". (Saffer).

Designers often use their instincts on smaller projects, but are (or should be) required to do proper deisgn research on big projects where the stakes are high if the production of a product proves to be in any way defective due to any oversight.

Design research may easily change the perspective even of a designer who is an 'intuitive genius'. There are too many things to be overseen. spending any amount of time with a person and getting their insight is invaluable. Discussion can often lead to unexpected inspiration.

I find this passage heartening. Especially the bold sentences:
"Full-blown ideas for great, innovative products do not come from research subjects. The designer need not fear that engaging in research means that one is the slave of their findings. Design research includes the careful analysis of findings, turning them this way and that, looking for patterns. At the end of the day, well-designed research findings can spark the imagination of the designer with outcomes that could not have been dreamt of by either the research subjects or even the designer herself. Good design research functions as a springboard for the designer's creativity and values."

It is important when researching that the designer discount any biases that may interfere with the accuracy of the research.


Find your audience. Talk to them getting as much research, and record (write, record) and acquire as much data as possible. Secondary research is also important.

It is important to go to not rely on focus groups which give artificial and often unreliable results. The designer must go to the subject. your own primary research is important. It is also important to have a written record of you findings as well as some secondary method of recording. the more the better.

Ethically speaking, a researcher should respect the privacy and preferences of their subject. Gaining their trust will be beneficial to your research because the subject will be more comfortable and free with you.

When in whatever environment when researching, the designer must be able to not be distracted and focus on important aspects of their subject — namely, specific activities, the environment where activities take place, and the interactions among people that take place during activities.

Finding patterns (ie patterns of behavior, patterns in stories, patterns of responses to a question—any action or idea that keeps recurring) is important. When patterns have been discovered, then you can be sure that you are getting good research results.

When recording it is best to always have data in written form. Other ways of recording such as video recordings are good but should not be relied on. One should be as inconspicuous as possible.

Getting key phrases, and quotes is a good. Also, Sketches of the location, annotated with comments and detail, and the history, steps, and context of any activities.
The designer should always have a different piece of paper on which he can put separate ideas. All data accrued should be on a professional level as the information may be shared with colleges.

a symposium

In an effort to be as thorough as possible, I used a mind map to think of everything that I possibly could.

Once I had that, I was continued on to develop my more formalized concept map — being careful to make it easy to follow, and as thorough as possible.