Performance Preference & Blended Teams

Over the last few week’s I have covered a number of fundamental design concepts that have helped build a solid foundation for my website. I have come up with some exciting ideas which I believe increase the overall user experience and consider to be progressive design, but how do I know the user will feel the same way? Features which I believe improve the experience of my website may not be seen as useful from the user’s perspective. This issue is called Performance Versus Preference (Lidwell et al. 2010, p.180). Some of the unique ideas developed may be seen as unnecessary to the user and may detract from the experience. Users understand and become attached to common design elements, simply put some users feel comfortable with familiar features and see no point for improvement brought to a design (Lidwell et al. 2010, p.180). This is why we should test our designs and seek feedback; we can gather feedback from users and also internal stakeholders. This valuable information can be used to influence all elements of our design and help deliver a final outcome that can be appreciated internally and by users alike.

Blended Teams

Deloitte NAB blended design team (Owen Hodda 2012)

 

Going back to the very beginning of our design project we should start by spending time assembling and communicating with different parties involved. This helps to understand and create a product that meets the client’s brief and expectations. In 2012 a team of independent consultants from Deloitte spoke at the Service Design conference about their experience in designing the NAB retail store outlets. The interesting way in which they approached this project was by combining their own expertise as independent consultants with NAB internal staff and NAB customers a method known as blended design teams (UX Events 2012). Blended design teams are devised to create an open forum where specialists from different fields and customers can interact. As designer’s we can use this process to take on board collected data and different opinions helping influence aspects of our designs. One of the most interesting points raised by the consulting team from Deloitte was when discussing how to bring separate ideas forward raised by the blended team. The team from Deloitte wanted all these ideas and moving parts to “Interplay with one another to deliver an experience” (UX Events 2012). This idea has fascinated me and I started to wonder how I would go about testing my design in a similar fashion and who would be involved in the process. One of the first steps would be to gather stakeholders and even potential users to help understand the exact purpose of the project so we can meet the client’s requirements (Jesmond  & Chudley 2012). The Basketball Diaries blended design team would consist of the owners, investors, sponsors, marketing department, journalists, sports agents, players and users of the website (Jesmond  & Chudley 2012). By talking to a broad range of people with interests internal and external to the website I can take on board each parties needs and ideas in an attempt to maximise the design of the site affecting the aesthetics, functionality and usability of the website.

BBD Blended Design Team

The Basketball Diaries blended deign teams

 
Gaining awareness from a variety of different sources “bolsters your knowledge” (UX Events 2012) and gives us the designer a greater opportunity to represent the client’s wishes and subject matter in a positive light that organically engage the needs of our users. Taking the time to understand user preferences and invested parties interests in my project with an open mind helps build a successful foundation which will lead to a final product that suits both stakeholders and users.

 

Reference List

Hodda, O 2012 “Deloitte NAB blended design team” [image], slideshare, viewed 27 January 2017, <http://www.slideshare.net&gt;.

Jesmond, A & Chudley, J 2012, Smashing UX Design Foundations for Designing Online User Experiences, Hoboken : Wiley 2012.

Lidwell, W Holden, K & Butler, J 2010, Universal principles of design: 125 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design, Rockport Publishers, Beverly, MA.

UX Events 2012, UX Australia Service Design 2012 conference, viewed 27 January 2017, <http://www.uxaustralia.com.au/servicedesign-2012/blended-design-teams>.

 

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Enhancing Aesthetics through type and Design

How we use fonts may be one of the most crucial and overlooked elements when constructing a website. Something so trivial as a font can add a subtle aesthetic enhancing the overall the experience. Study has shown that users identify classic fonts such as Times and Helvetica with ease (Slatter and Rayner 2009, p. 2010), by taking onboard this idea I will use a san-serif font similar to Helvetica with a touch more aesthetic appeal for my body text. After searching and deliberating I have found a font called ‘Solomon’ which has a likeness to Helvetica but with some subtle variations. These small variations give a dynamic feel which will improve the sites overall aesthetic appearance. While concentrating on type I will approaching my logo and some key typographical elements with a different philosophy based on a statement by Paula Scher. Paula talks about discovering how she can give life to a font “I realised type had spirit and could convey mood” (Hustwit 2007). With this in mind I will be playing with the shape, weight and colour helping to construct a fun and unique typographical mood as Paula suggests.

Aesthetics

Helvetica Vs Solomon

 

No matter how solid the foundation of a design maybe on lower functional levels aesthetics play an important role in the enjoyment a user will gain from interacting with a design. Good aesthetics can help increase accessibility and usability of a design, helping create an ongoing relationship with your users (Lidwell et al. 2010, p. 20). Don Norman (2016) talk’s discusses three key elements that can be used to help draw emotion from design. Visceral – our original reaction to a design, Behavioral – how we interact with the visual aspects the overall feel of a design and Reflective – our afterthoughts once we have used and interacted with a design. By using these three simple ideas I can evaluate my design helping to critique the overall  experience. By evaluating my initial reaction, the overall experience and finally reflecting on the process I  put myself in the position of the user seeing any challenges involved in my overall design. I have carefully choosing a web template designed by Nathan Riley as my artifact that I finds heightens the idea behind accessibility and usability through the use of aesthetics. I have used this template as an artifact to influence my own design which can be seen below along with my artifact. I intend to use Don Norman’s ideas of creating an enjoyable emotional experience for my users. At the end of the day I am trying to create an informative and fun website that looks at the lives of professional athletes, I want to fans to relate and feel an emotional attachment increasing the awareness of Australia’s best basketball players.

Asethetic Artifact

article show accessibility & usability through design (Riley 2014)

The Basketball Diaries Mockup

The Basketball Diaries template

 

Reference list

Don Norman 2016, Don Norman – Design For People, Don Norman, viewed 4 January 2016, < http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/emotional_design_pe.html&gt;.

Hustwit, G 2007, Helvetica, viewed 17 August  d-bac9-c2f5aa6e2838/1/>.

Lidwell, W Holden, K & Butler, J 2010, Universal principles of design: 125 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design, Rockport Publishers, Beverly, MA.

Riley, N 2014, ‘S-Works Camber Carbon’ [image], dribbble.com, viewed 6 January 2016, <https://dribbble.com/shots/1816033-Specialized-Website-Concept/attachments/300783&gt;.

Slattery, T  & Rayner, K 2010, ‘The Influence of Text Legibility on Eye Movements During Reading’, Applied Cognitive Psychology, vol, 24, no. 8, pp. 1129-1148.

 

Pushing accessibility in the Savanna

When building a website we need to look past the analytical process and position ourselves from the user’s perspective. Engaging a website should become a complete experience for the user, we want the user to understand the document from every angle so they come back time and time again enjoying the same experience. In a recent TED talk Tony Fadell describes two key ways we should look at addressing obstacles as designers. We should ‘look closer’ (Fadell 2015) at the fine details to help enhance user experience. He goes on to say  we should ‘think younger’ (Fadell 2015) by this he is advising us to question design, to challenge ourselves as designers and think outside of the box. I will be taking these two basic ideas and applying them to my document through Accessibility (Butler et al. 2010, p. 16) and the Savanna Preference (Butler et al. 2010, p. 212).

 

A well designed website should aim to leave all users with a lasting and positive impression, the term Accessibility in web design is associated directly when talking about users with disabilities. One of the most well know ways designers tackle Accessibility in web design is through the use of Alt tags which help identify images for the visually impaired (Thatcher et al. 2006, p. 5). I would like to take this process one step further and heightened the Perceptibility (Butler et al. 2010, p. 16) for all users of my document by building a design process that will combat Accessibility issues and enhance fundamental aspects of my document. After analysis my artefact I asked myself why do websites only use visual cues for headings and subheadings? My document revolves around elite basketball athletes and their personal stories, what if I could incorporate voice over from the athletes when the article is selected. This activation would take the personalisation of the site to a deeper level. This minor change has been designed giving the document a unique and intimate feeling which will simultaneously help fix a major Perceptibility issue for the visually impaired and users with low literacy skills.

 

ThePlayersTribune

Artefact use of headings and space (The Players Tribune 2016)

 

I would like to take a closer look at how users visually interact with my document. Over design can affect the accessibility for all users degrading the experience. I will be focusing on simplifying (Thatcher et al. 2006, p. 5) my document with the help of responsive design (Henry. 2006, p.  6), this will allow my design to be visually manipulated allowing each page to fit different electronic devices with ease from desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphones. To help heighten the accessibility I am going to employ another design principle in my document the Savanna Preference (Butler et al. 2010, p. 212). This principle describes how humans feel comfortable in open lush green spaces surrounded by trees and natural water features (Butler et al. 2010, p. 212). You may ask yourself how can this be applied to a website? By taking the basic’s of this principle I can interpret its meaning and use the Savanna Preference to address how I use space within my document. This theory has made me conscious of how I will use white space to separating elements across my document helping users feel at ease and calm as they navigate through the site. I hope to adopt a relaxed feeling much like the Savanna Preference presents.

 

thebasketballdiarys

Document concept for audio headings

 

Accessibility and the Savanna Preference can both be used to create a user friendly experience regardless of the differences between each individual user. We can strive to do this by asking questions on behalf of the customers and look closer as Tony Fadell (2015) suggests. We can also look at our natural surroundings and see what elements give people clarity and happiness applying these principles to our own digital realms of communication.

 

Reference List

Butler, J, Holden, K, Lidwell, W & 2010, Universal Principles of Design, Ebook Central (ProQuest).

Thatcher, J, Burks, M, Heilmann, C, Henry, S, Kirkpatrick, A, Lauke, P, Lawson, B, Regan, Rutter, R, Urban, M, Waddell, C 2006, Web Accessibility Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance, Springer-Verlag, Springer ebooks.

The Players Tribune 2016, The Players Tribune, The Players Tribune, viewed 07 December 2016, <http://www.theplayerstribune.com>.

 

Using the Hierarchy of needs in online media

Websites can act as a powerful tool of communication if constructed correctly. By focusing efforts on the overall design you can enhance the potential of a website to make it an informative and dynamic channel of communication. By taking on board the Hierarchy of Needs (Butler et al. 2010, p. 124) I can use the fundamental principles of design to help build a website from the ground up. By firstly addressing the lower-level needs such as functionality and reliability I can accurately design the higher-level needs usability, proficiency and creativity (Butler et al. 2010, p. 124). The document I have chosen pickandroll.com.au is a website dedicated to Australian basketball players. My focus will be redeveloping the website and maximise its potential as a medium of communication. The artefact that I will use theplayerstribune.com is a website that shares simular aesthetics and content to my project. By using the Hierarchy of Needs five principles I will evaluate my artefact and project to set in stone a foundation gaining a clearer picture of my overall design.

needs_of_design

Hierarchy of needs (Doctordisruption 2013)

The five principles

Functionality is key to the chosen artefact as the website’s name The Players Tribune describes the overall goal of the site which is to effectively communicate athletes individual stories. With this knowledge I propose to change the name of my document to The Basketball Diaries reflect the content of my site with greater accuracy helping to improve the functionality.

Reliability is an ongoing process when building a website. As content is added the site evolves and it becomes crucial that all information is accessible without interruption (Bradley 2010). This is a quality that the artefact chosen excels at as all links and content work without fail. When a document shows reliably it is unseen and enhances the overall design, it is crucial I emulate this in my own project.

Usability within the context of the Internet is about creating a website that a consumer can navigate and use with ease (Johnson. 2014). I can navigate through the chosen artefact freely which allows other information to be seen clearly such as the distinct order of importance to the content. Both these points will be vital in the success of my own document as I want users to move freely around my website. I will arrange content so it is communicated in a specific hierarchy to ensure a high quality of usability is achieved.

Proficiency is about improving and going beyond the accepted standards (Butler et al. 2010, p. 124). Proficiency is shown in the chosen artefact with the use of high quality images, videos and links to social media for external communication. I would like to expand on the use of social media in my own project by integrating twitter and other social media feeds giving my website constant communication from trusted sources.

Creativity is the final step in this process, after addressing the lower-needs you can concentrate on the aesthetics. The use of images, fonts and white-space are all well thought out within the artefact. I will take my design further by going beyond the use of boxes and straight lines. With the combination of different shapes and angles I hope to enhance the overall look of my project.

By following these principles and addressing the lower-level needs correctly the focus is shifted to the higher-level needs and the client’s attention is drawn to the visual elements (Parboteeah et al. p. 87). Through the use of design principles I now have a solid foundation which will help my project reach its potential as an effective medium for communication.

theplayerstribune

Artifact (The Players Tribune 2016)

 

basic_structure

Document layout

Reference list

Bradley, S 2010, ‘Designing For A Hierarchy Of Needs’, Smashing Magazine, 26th August, viewed 16th November 2016, <https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/04/designing-for-a-hierarchy-of-needs/&gt;.

Butler, J, Holden, K, Lidwell, W & 2010, Universal Principles of Design, Ebook Central (ProQuest).

Doctordisruption 2013, ‘Hierarchy of Needs Diagram’ [image], doctordistribution, viewed 19th November 2016, <http://www.doctordisruption.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/needs_of_design.png&gt;.

Parboteeah, D, Valacich, J & Wells, J 2007, ‘The online consumer’s hierarchy of needs’, Communications of the ACM, Vol.50, No. 9, pp. 84-90.

The Players Tribune 2016, The Players Tribune, The Players Tribune, viewed 14th November 2016, <http://www.theplayerstribune.com>.