Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Concluding Blog Post

What seminar readings, exercises, or assignments were most challenging, interesting, or rewarding for you? Why?
I found Norman's "Emotional Design" and Lagerfeld's "What Main Street Can Learn From the Mall" to be the most interesting and applicable readings. These readings dicussed several points that were particularly relaivant to design, especially when evaluating it. After I learned about visceral, behavioral, and reflective design, I began evaluating almost everything using these three aspects. We also used visceral, behavioral, and reflective design to evaluate anything we discussed or presented after that. These aspects could also be applied to a downtown location, which was discussed by Gibb in Lagerfeld's article. Lagerfeld's article was interesting because it allowed me to developed logical reasons for why I do not like downtown Kalamazoo. Learning and reading from these authors was rewarding because it opened by eyes to design... in its truest sense. Before this class, I never evaluated an item based on pros and cons. Instead, I really only judged it on my liking.
What are the most important things you learned in this seminar?

During the course of this seminar I learned the value of discussion and presentations. Before this course, I avoided any formal discussions, or giving presentations. Not only did they make me feel nervous, but also uncomfortable. However, I observed that discussion is a great opportunity to share ideas. I think this seminar's topic was relatable for all of us. Design is all around us, and we are all designers. Therefore, it was easier for me, and probably others, to participate in discussion. Similarly, presentations gave me the opportunity to feel more comfortable speaking in front of a group. In the same way, I was able to practice projecting my voice.

How might you use this learning in the future?

All of the readings and assignments for this seminar will be useful in other classes. Discussions are essential to communicate ideas. Without them, it is a lot more difficult to know what others think, especially if you never talk them outside of class. I truly believe discussions can lead one to another way of thinking, like broadening one's horizon. Professor Stull gave us all a list of discussion roles, like gatekeeping. Now I understand what a discussion is like, so I will definitely use this for my future classes. Giving simple, clear, and concise presentations will also be required in the future. Even sharing ideas with employees after college will need to conveyed in a clear and concise manner. It is always important to remember who your audience is and how they can best understand what you are presenting.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"The Secret to Turning Consumers Green"

1. The author's main points relate to turning consumers green. Researchers have discovered that consumers can be turned green through peer pressure.  Producers could create laws that require consumers to go green, but the most effective way is through peer pressure.
2. I do not think I feel peer pressured by "going green" advertisements. Going green is a personal choice, in my opinion. I choose to bike or walk whenever I can, and I choose to use a reusable water bottle instead of plastic bottles.
3. I have purchased shoes, from a a company named SimpleShoes, that are environmentally-friendly. The shoes are designed with sustainable materials, such as recycled carpet padding and reusing discard clear plastic in things like shoelaces. I do not know how I came about this company, but I believed in supporting a company that attempts to promote 100% sustainability.
4. Products are becoming environmentally friendly, one big example is the car industry. A lot of thought is being put into the design of cars so that can become more, if not completely, environmentally-friendly. Other examples include clothing companies, and technology companies. Clothing companies are using more sustainable dyes and materials, whereas technology companies are reducing the amount of material they are using.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jennifer Steinhauser

1.  ''Today brands are built emotionally,'' Ms. Lastrina said. ''You have to get a message across and show what the brand ideology means to her life.''

The above quote depicts the value of advertisement, and its role in conveying an image. Department stores sell clothing, among other things. This article is explaining that department stores are trying to establish themselves as a brand, much like speciality clothing companies have already done. Clothing is being advertised by department stores, so that consumers become familiar with the image, which, in turn, will increase brand identity.

2. Truthfully, I can only think of one example of an ionic clothing company: Burberry. Burberry is a high end speciality clothing company, that has an image oriented towards youth. Many advertisements present models in their late teens, early twenties.  Burberry could easily be considered luxury clothing, providing a sophispicated and clean image. The Burberry image is apparent because of their signature tartan pattern.From advertisements, I gather that the company markets to privelidged young adults, but the market is also open to older individuals, too. By owning a Burberry clothing article, a customer is able to feel luxourious, while sharing an endless feeling of youth.

3. When purchasing clothes, brand image is an important aspect for me. Brand image is partially due to reputation. If a company has a good reputation for quality clothing, I will be much more likely to purchase the article rather than buy a "nameless" brand. Although, a brand image only goes so far. Simply because the clothing looks good on the model, does not mean it will look good on the individual. Therefore, a person defines the clothing. If the individual is confident with the clothing he, or she, is wearing, the brand image can be conveyed successfully.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Cookie Cutter Housing"

1. The author's main points address subdivisions and the difficulty of overcoming the ordinances presented to avoid any creative incentive. Engineers, for example, are presented with a recipe but are limited to experiment with it because not much support is rarely given to go beyond the minimum-based "cookie cutter housing." Instead, the author states that a licensed worker must initiate, and essentially argue, a different design for subdivisions. He also suggest that rewards should be given to innovators so that they are inspired to create houses that are different from one another, benefiting prospective families and individuals who will reside in the subdivisions.
2. I believe that subdivisions are tacky and too ordinary because many of the houses can be compared to  a "cookie cutter community." Even though I did not grow up in a subdivision, I was able to experience and observe them because most of my friends lived in them. Many, or all, houses in a subdivision are nearly identical presenting a standard and uniform image. Regardless, I think subdivisions contribute to urban sprawl, but are not the cause. I feel this is the case because the introduction of automobiles made transportation easier, and therefore more popular. Individuals were able to travel farther, faster, and did so more frequently. As this occurred, families moved into suburbs and away from the city. This relates back to subdivisions, because they provide families, or individuals, a place to live besides the country, or in the city.
3. I do not live in or near a subdivision. The author is incorrect to state that "Nobody likes the taste of “cookie cutter” development," simply because individuals with, or without, families continue to reside in them. Families could choose to live elsewhere, but are drawn to the community that is created in subdivisions. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Biggest Mistakes in Web Design

1. Flanders' most important points are drawn from the concept that everything on a website (including its design) should be user oriented. He goes on to write "it's about solving your customers' problems." This agrees with Norman's and Negroponte's user-focused design ideas. A web design is the layout of a web-page, which should consist of readable text and contrast. A website should be easy to use and simple, much like a product or retail store should be laid out so that is can be used easily, but is also visually appealing. Another concept that Flanders addresses is the idea that the number of functions should equal the number of controls. In addition, the functions of the controls should be clear, which agrees with Norman's design concepts of everyday things. 

2. Flanders' article about "web design mistakes" states that a web design should be focused, meaning the purpose of the website should be apparent to the user at all times (Flanders states it should be within four seconds). Other important points were made in regards to readability of text -- based on size and color contrast -- difficulty level of navigation should be minimized, and javascript mistakes.

3. When surfing the web, I judge a web design on a few aspects. Overall, the website should be simple to navigate and look nice, in terms of colors going together and the website not having too much information. The text should be readable, in this case the font should be large enough and there should be contrast between the font color and the background color. I also think it is a drawback if a website takes too long to load, and pop ups should be minimized.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Future of Retail

1. Negroponte does not explicitly state his thesis.

Retail shopping is slowly decreasing in popularity due to the connivence and speed of online shopping, however, retail shopping will not disappear because of the invaluable experience shopping brings and the obstacles that online shopping may present.

2. Retail shopping is an individual experience. Therefore, most retail shopping in store, or online, is user-focused much like Norman's concepts of user-focused design. This article is user-focused in the same regards as Norman, in some respects. One example of user-focused design is natural mapping. Online shopping can easily incorporate natural mapping into website design. Natural mapping is user-focused because it can make the website easier to use. I think Negroponte wants to convey that even though shopping at a store is an experience in itself, there are too many obstacles against it which contribute to the convenience of online shopping. This addresses Norman's user-focused design because the shopping experience is oriented towards the customer, meaning the atmosphere, while online shopping offers  customers a hassle-free experience.

3. Negroponte ideas are very relevant today, since online shopping has mushroomed. For nearly every retail store, it is possible to purchase the same items online. Many customers resort to online shopping to avoid waiting in lines and because of the convenience and speed. Online accounts can save personal billing and shipping information, so all that a customer must do is click a button. Although, online shopping has not completely taken over retail shopping. Instead, there is the option to partake in both.

4. The future of retail is in the hands of the consumers. I predict that the Future of Retail will continue the way it is currently functioning. Retail stores will probably diminish a little bit because not enough consumers are buying from shops. The cost of employing workers outweighs the benefit of customers shopping in store. Instead, customers will shop online buying the products directly from manufactures. I think this will happen to some stores. It depends largely on what the retail store sells. Customers will continue to shop at retail stores, because they need to observe more than the appearance. For example, I do not shop for clothing online. If I buy clothing, I always visit the store to feel the items and to try them on. Additionally, both types of shopping cannot exist without the other, since each offer different shopping experiences.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Downtown Kalamazoo Observations

1. As I walked downtown in Kalamazoo I observed its atmosphere, cleanliness and mixture of retail shops. Numerous banks, restaurants, and a variety of shops are a located on Burdick Street. This mixture of retail stores is accompanied by a single lane one way street, countless benches, and trash cans. The streets are clean, although many leaves cover the pavement. In addition the walkway is adorned with planters and a few trees. Some store fronts are attractive, clean, and simple, while others require maintenance. During my visit few people filled the streets, or stores, which provided an empty feeling.
2. While I visited downtown Kalamazoo, I thought of three recommendation to improve the area. My first suggestion is to add generators. The most obvious generator to me is the Kalamazoo rock climbing center. This is only one! Other students included banks as generators currently located in the downtown area, as well. I recommend adding a bowling ally, or a gym (like an article from class mentioned). Secondly, the area should try to attract a younger crowd, perhaps to college aged students. The area lacks restaurants and shops that are affordable to college students. To improve the area, shops should be more necessity based, perhaps, and they should be more affordable. Lastly, I would move the location of the Rave Motion Pictures movie theater. The movie theater is located in such an isolated area, giving the feeling that it is separate from downtown and it also feels less secure. If the movie theater was located downtown, I would be more willing to go to a restaurant afterward or beforehand. I would also have greater interest in walking the downtown area.
3. From Lagerfeld's "What Main Street Can Learn from the Mall..."
"At the corner of Clematis and Dixie Highway, one of the main intersections in town, a new gym has opened, its large plate-glass windows displaying its clientele to passing pedestrians and motorists. The gym is what Gibbs calls a "generator": the traffic it draws will help attract related businesses, such as restaurants, fast-food outlets, perhaps a sporting-goods store, to the empty storefronts nearby." 

Essentially, this passage discusses generators and their importance in a downtown area. Downtown Kalamazoo can use this advice. Like I mentioned earlier, the area has only one obvious generator -- the Kalamazoo Climbing Center. Adding generators will bring more people, of all age groups, into the area. The area will therefore feel less desolate, instead it will feel lively and welcoming. While I was downtown I saw few people, and most of which were older. Shops were nearly empty, as were restaurants. As we discussed in class, many people said that they disliked entering shops if it lacked people. To draw people into shops, it is important to have generators. I also observed that there was little to do in the downtown area. Generators would offer people opportunities, like a gym offers people a place to exercise. Downtown areas should incorporate these opportunities, otherwise they are boring.