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Ramkumar Shankar

Week 4 – Pitch Presentations & Branding

It was a lot of fun with the pitch presentations this week. Lots of different ways of approaching the brief and idea. Michele’s method of telling the story of how she organised collections of marbles as a kid was particularly memorable.

Then it was time for branding. I know brands are extremely valuable, but some of the statistics in the lecture were still astonishing. And staying on the topic of branding, Google announced a new logo and updated identity today (umm, perks of doing this a bit late I think? *sheepish*), and I found it to be a very interesting read. The logo was also imagined to be something fluid, that communicates to the user even when search terms are being processed. It was an interesting departure from the traditional static form.

Staying on the topic of logos, Abduzeedo usually does posts on logo design where they pick a particular item or theme – such as cursive lettering, pandas or teeth. I think their selections are usually very fascinating, and it goes to how much room there is to get really creative on common themes.

panda-worksters

dentalot

Then it was the illustrator tutorial. Now I know how non-programmers might feel like in a programming class. It looks like a good grasp of the pen tool is very useful skill to have. I’ll definitely need more practice to get better at this. If anyone else also needs help with some of this, I came across this the other day –  “Games for designers“, which had some simple games for pen tool and illustrator newbies like me. 🙂

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Week 3 – On Moodboards

Moodboards were something quite new to me. I haven’t done these in the past, but I can definitely see their utility. For my own moodboard, I was able to put things together, because I had a clear idea of what the application should convey. I typically went with bright colours for the icons, and large crisp text. I threw in some cartoony elements because I wanted the application to also be fun.

moodboard

It wasn’t as easy to create a moodboard for Jane Bobble, and that’s also because I don’t want to stereotype, and by extension dilute the person, by picking things women of her age might like or going with feminine colour schemes. My first instinct was to follow a more corporate feel in the colour and layout. This resulted in picking more conventional hues of blue, and I started going looking for other elements in the real world that Jane Bobble might appreciate – flowers and such.

jane_bobble

We also had a class and tutorial on building personas in the Design Thinking, and it was emphasized there that personas are archetypes, not stereotypes. And that makes a lot of sense. Ultimately, I figure it takes a lot of practice and experience to make great personas that feel closer to real humans, so we (and by that, I mean I) feel less worried about promoting stereotypes.

Week 2 – Perception and Patterns

This week’s lecture quite frankly blew my mind. To know that we will never perceive the world as it truly is, on some level, kind of sad. I’ve encountered some of these issues (usually in the form of annoying viral posts) in the past, but the lecture painted a comprehensive picture of how through culture and past experience and our brain makes us its mind about ‘what is out there’. As designers, we need to keep this in mind. There’s a lot of reading I need to do in this area.

Jennifer Tidwell’s design patterns formed the second part of the lecture. The first edition seems to have been written when desktop applications and web interfaces were predominantly used. The patterns do apply when moving to the current world of web and mobile applications as well, and the second edition expands the list of patterns significantly. It’s a good starting point to understand why a particular interface works or doesn’t.

The discussion of patterns in class also made me think of “Dark Patterns” (more here).

Disclaimer! Nik, I’m not sure if this is a reliable source. In fact, I’m going to dig up more research on this issue! However, it seems plausible to me that using our knowledge of human behaviour and cognitive perception, design patterns could be used for nefarious purposes.

The author of the website defines them as

“A Dark Pattern is a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.”

The site has some examples, and it’s an interesting read. Nik, maybe we could spend a bit of time on this in class?

Week 1 – What I learnt!

Quite a lot actually.

  • You should have proper justification, backed by research and theory, to explain why you made a certain choices in design. “Everybody does it” is not it. Which is great – this is what I want to learn in this class.
  • Skeuminimalism
  • The lecture slides are great.
  • Nik cares deeply about the UI and UX profession, and is very particular about the skills you need to have before “he’ll let you” join the ranks.
  • On that note, there is a difference between UI and UX.
  • The Gestalt principles were an eye-opener for me. They made a lot of sense, and will be very useful to understand why we perceive shapes and objects they way we do.
  • The principles of good UI design – a useful toolkit for UI designers.

I also learnt I should do this every week before the next class, which will happen now as the semester progresses!

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