Archive | 11 May 2010

Status Update – Janna's WordPress Site

Current Status: For my WordPress site, I’ve decided to use it for personal branding. Though I don’t intend to work on the creative side marketing, I would like to use this site to showcase the work I’ve done thus far with hopes of establishing self credibility. So far, I have downloaded and chosen to use the Ipesity Personal Branding WordPress Theme, though I’m entirely sure if this is the theme I’d like to stick with. Additionally, I have installed a few plugins and created 3 pages (Who I Am, Why, and Contact) with drafted text. Read More…

Supporting the User’s Mental Models: A User Centered Approach to Designing

When disposing of a document on my laptop, I drag it to the “recycling bin” just as I would any documents I printed out. The process a document undergoes to be recycled in actuality bears no resemblance to how I would recycle documents outside of my computer-mediated space. Instead, an address is deleted from the hard drive’s index so that the storage space can be overwritten the next time the computer needs to save to the hard drive. The useful, mental metaphor, however, has effectively taken place of what actually occurs because it is much simpler than the reality. Designing for the user involves using our real-world experiences to help users assimilate and understand what occurs on their computers. The recycling bin, and other metaphors of that ilk, is a mental model. These models help to bridge the gap of comprehension for the less tech-savvy users who need the shortcut to absorb new concepts into their existing knowledge base. Though the user may be completely wrong in their perception of what is actually happening their understanding of the model helps him or her to successfully accomplish their goals. Read More…

Status Update on Madeline's WordPress Site

Current status: I’ve been exploring several different themes, and currently I’ve been experimenting with “distillate.” Read More…

It's Facebook's Sandbox, Play if you Want

At the risk of being kicked out of the MCDM program … well not kicked out as I’m sure that that I have done or said other things that might warrant that, I would propose that those complaining about the privacy changes made by Facebook in recent weeks have very little standing on which to do so.

First off, I don’t consider myself a curmudgeon, but I suppose any one who is doesn’t consider there self one. Facebook has never really interested me. And I don’t fully understand all of its functions. When a tool doesn’t interest me, the only reason for me to use it because it makes what I do easier and more efficient. I readily abandoned the enlarger for the film scanner and gave up the film scanner for the digital scanner. If software makes my workflow more efficient I implement it. Facebook has never been any of those for me. I’m sure someone with more a mind more attuned to marketing and social media could tell me why I should be more active. Read More…

Personal Website Status

Brand positioning: My tagline is in development. I want the design to balance creativity and professionalism.

Visual appeal: The theme I’ve selected is called Color Paper. I’m working to adapt it for my portfolio site. I plan to include images of my work samples as well as a few images that convey my personality/interests.

Read More…

Web Typography: The Screen Changes Everything

It is undeniable that typography has a widespread impact across publishing mediums. But there are definitely different needs when it comes to designing for print versus designing for web. The screen changes everything.

For example, a font that looks great on screen can look horrible on paper, and vice versa. When it comes to utilizing typography for web design one must keep in mind that most browsers or computers will not facilitate “fancy” fonts. If you want to use a font other than the typical serif and sans serif versions you must transfer your font into an image format (jpg, gif, png, etc.) so that the server will read it as a picture of text rather than text itself. The downfall of this design requirement is that search engine bots will not pick up any keywords that have been transitioned to images, which doesn’t lead to the best optimization.

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Personas and Cultural Considerations

A key takeaway from last week’s class discussion on personas was that personas are more than a collection of demographic data– they need to be thought of as lifestyle profiles.  For example, “Martha” is not just a 35-year old mother of two with a household income of $75,000 who saves for a big family vacation every year.  Instead, “Martha” is a woman who is often harried trying to manage a schedule that includes soccer games, ballet lessons and a full time job.  She barely catches news headlines as she drives to work and relaxes by reading People Magazine because it’s brain candy (and she can claim it an important tool for staying up to date on popular culture J).

The second “Martha” profile is far more multi-dimensional and invariably provides greater insight into what a product must deliver in order to capture Martha’s imagination enough to trial or buy.

One thing we didn’t talk about was cultural considerations and the influence on both demographic and psycho-graphic profiles that inform personas.  The prompt for thinking about this was yesterday’s piece in the New York Times on Twitter’s awareness growth. According to a recent study by Edison Research, Twitter is now almost equal to Facebook in awareness among Americans – increasing from 26% last year to 87%  this year.

The piece went on to highlight data points regarding cultural usage trends.  According to the Edison report 25% of Twitter users are African-American – twice the percentage of the American population.

Do cultural variations affect a design consideration set?  Does it matter if “Martha” is African-American, Hispanic or of Korean decent?  It might matter when it comes to some aesthetic decisions (color choices, look and feel may be different based on variances in trends among social groups).  But I would argue it has little, if any, affect on functionality decisions, since functionality is ultimately more about technical capabilities.  In fact, Martha’s age (at least for now) may be the biggest determining factor when it comes to influencing product design.

That said, the New York Times blog is a good reminder that crafting personas with a multi-cultural mindset can only be pure goodness when it comes to reinforcing diversity –  locally and globally.