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Design Attractiveness

Posted by admin on Nov 3, 2009 in ICM 501a, Module 5: Interactive Production
Design Attractiveness

Design Attractiveness

Imagine that someone decides to buy a new product, such a mug to drink his coffee, and he decides to go to a near store to do that. Once he is in the store, he is really surprised of how many mugs are available in this store. Therefore, what should he choose? Actually, this is really difficult situation, because, if I were in this situation, I would try to figure out which mug I should buy and I will take forever to do that. I will end up with having a headache and cancelling the whole idea. However, sometime, I decide quickly and choose a mug faster than I do in the regular situations. The reason behind that is one of the mugs is really attractive and it is not hard to choose one quickly. The design attractiveness is the main factor that makes me decide quickly. Well, in this post, I am going to discuss two points: the first one is the factors that increase the attractiveness of the products, and the second one is some constraints that designer encounter in the process of making the products.

Products Attractiveness

Weird!!

Donald Norman, in his keynote presentation, “Emotional Design: The Principles“, at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (2004), discussed the emotions role in human life and mentioned that there is a basic theory that gives a framework of putting all elements of design together; all products should have certain components. These components include incorporating the elements of visceral design (appearance), behavioral design (the way the products work and physically feel), and reflective design (what the products mean to you). Well, I totally agree with Norman with his claim about the role of emotions in human life and how the brain evaluates the products. In fact, I believe that the factors that could increase the products attractiveness are a mix of Norman’s components. All designer, whatever the product they are designing, should include these components. They should always put in mind what Norman said: “getting the technology right is only part of the puzzle”.

Designers’ Constraints

Deadlines!!

Deadlines!!

On one side of the coin, David Kelly, in “the future of design is human-centered“, announced new products which were taking a human-centered approach in the process of design. Also, the designs of those products include a complete analysis of human behaviors and personalities. He claimed that designers are more trusted and more integrated into business strategies of companies. I am totally impressed of how David Kelly presented these products and how incredible they were. On the other side of the coin, there are certain constraints that make it difficult to design a  product in the exact quality that David Kelly announced. One of them is the financial constraints; producing products in this way will cost a lot and require a huge amount of money. I believe that one part of the puzzle of designing a perfect product is to do it with low-budget scale. Otherwise, the product will be too expensive and will be limited to certain people. The other part is the time factor; if a product designed in a way that demands time, then it will cost more money also.

However, there are other ways that are less time consuming and totally inexpensive. For instance, Tohidi, M., Buxton, W., Baecker, R., & Sellen, A. (2006), in their article “User sketches: a quick, inexpensive, and effective way to elicit more reflective user feedback” proposed that “user sketching as an extension to conventional usability testing techniques”. Also, they claimed that their “study illustrates the benefits of engaging users in a sketching activity as an extension to conventional usability testing. The act of sketching proved to facilitate reflection and discovery better than the other methods used”. Actually, I totally agreed that user sketching is an incredible way of doing interaction with users during the process of design. In fact, I believe that it is an inexpensive way of engaging the users in the process of design and it is really effective. 

Conclusion

To sum up, I have mentioned that there are certain factors that increase the attractiveness of any product. One of the factors is considering the role of emotions in human life. Also, there are certain kinds of components that should be considered in the designing process, which include incorporating the elements of visceral design, behavioral design, and reflective design. Furthermore, I have presented some constraints that the designers encounter. For example, the financial constraints can limit the creativity of designers, in addition to the time factor (deadlines). Also, I have presented a solution to engage the users in the process of design, which is “user sketching”. User sketching can incredibly reduce the costs and consume less amount of time. After all, the design attractiveness can be increased dramatically, without allocating a high-budget and performing it over a long period of time. 

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Snacktivities and the users’ needs

Posted by admin on Nov 2, 2009 in ICM 501a, Module 5: Interactive Production
One of the most important aspects of the website analysis process is to outline the user’s needs. Some people claim that users are the most important part of any website. Our team believes that is true.  As a result, “usability” should be the main focus. Jakob Nielsen, for instance, who has been called “the king of usability“, mentions that “usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use“. Due to the nature of our website, WellComm, Thinking Allowed, and I believe that not only should snacktivitymom.com be totally usable, but it also should include aesthetic elements, such as step-by-step photo illustrations of the recipes, and video demonstrations featuring our website spokesperson, “The Snacktivator,” doing the actual preparation of the recipes. We also believe that inserting the visual aspect of the recipes will give snacktivitymom.com an advantage over its competitors, most of whom only list the recipes in text. Furthermore, we plan to address different strategies with snacktivitymom.com, and develop a sort of hub for monthy snactivity activities for the whole family.

Branding Snacktivities

Branding is a repeatedly unconscious process which a business utilizes in order to get people to easily remember their products and services over those of competitors. It is sometimes not easy to build a successful brand; however, there are certain strategies that we will employ to achieve the idea of branding snacktivitymom.com. 

For example, when we analyzed how Richard Simmons branded himself as the lighthearted and lively face of exercise, we realized that one way of branding snacktivitymom.com is to associate fun with the process of making food. Actually, Snacktivities is a way of turning food into something fun and creating snack memories.  We believe that this will brand snacktivitymom.com, especially with the notion that Snacktivities is a food-based  activity that the whole family can do together.

 

Martha Stewart

Another example of someone who is really successful in branding themselves is Martha Stewart. If you look closely at her website  you will discover that it is really inspirational. Stewart gives clear, step-by-step instructions on how to do her various projects.  For the motivated person, her projects – recipes in particular – are doable, but complicated.  At Snacktivitymom.com will use Martha Stewart’s strategy of branding herself as the home entertainment maven, but are hoping to evolve our brand to the point that both adults and children will be users who are looking for our services.

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray

There also are some people who use a whole different way of branding themselves.  For example, Rachael Ray uses her personality to brand her way of cooking.  Ray is an astonishing example of success. Obviously, there are many people who love Rachael Ray’s personality. In addition, she always focuses on the idea of making cooking really easy. One of her original concepts is that of recipes that take 30-minute-or-less. That idea helped her catapult her as a spokesperson for easy and fast home cooking.  She always focuses on the idea of using materials available in the home to cook a delicious meal. Due to the fact that Snacktivitymom.com recipes will be performed by Deb Berry, (“The Snacktivator”), who has a similarly outgoing personality, and that Snacktivities can be made in a in less than 30 minutes and are really easy, we believe that we have a real advantage here. Snacktivitymom.com could be a brand that compares to those prominent spokespeople in the future.

Establishing credibility

Family Fun magazine

Family Fun magazine

When anyone is attempting to get an Internet website off the ground, representing a high level of professionalism is absolutely fundamental to establishing the required credibility of any website. Snacktivitymom.com is one step ahead of this game since our spokesperson is already someone who is called upon as an expert in family fun from her work with Disney’s Family Fun magazine.  Deb has been a consumer journalist for more than 20 years and she is a regular guest on TV shows such as Regis and Kelly as well as a variety of network morning programs, Deb is also, and more importantly, a mom of two growing and happy children. 

One of the most important approaches is that Snacktivitymom.com offers fun, creative ideas that use predominently healthy food. The site will make it clear that Deb (the Snacktivator) is not a nutritionist or dietician.  She is a mom who is hoping to teach her children the importance of making good food choices and understanding portion control, while maintaining the fun and eat ability of all of her recipes. Healthy eating does not have to be boring and does not have to only consist of fruits and vegetables.  You can have a little chocolate in there – in moderation.

Each of the recipes will include the idea of offering healthy snacks without being obsessive about nutrition. The website will offer healthy options, such as using skim milk in recipes instead of regular milk. Snacktivitymom.com will state directly that Snacktivites focuses on the fun side of making food as a family, rather than claiming to be healthy without presenting expert opinions. Our team hopes that after we are established, we will expand our content to  offer articles from nutritionists and doctors to explain how to make snacks and meals healthier and the importance of instilling good eating behaviors in a fun way into our children.

Snacktivitymom.com will alert the user of the contents of the food recipes and remind parents and children to be conscious of allergies or special dietary needs when choosing and preparing the recipes. For example, if someone has an allergy to nuts, he/she will be alerted to the presence of nuts in the recipe.  If at all possible we will offer substitution suggestions for common allergies such as nuts or dairy.

Deb Berry

Deb Berry

Due to the fact that Deb Berry, the founder of Snacktivitymom.com, and the one who actually creates the recipes, is a contributing editor at Disney’s  FamilyFun magazine, has a history of working as a journalist, and appears regularly on national TV, getting the message out about Snacktivitymom.com should be a little easier than some other startups.  We will have access to some media outlets that many other websites might not have. Deb will give Snacktivitymom.com a personality and credibility. We plan to feature her prominantly on the website through images, video and biographical information. Also, once the website is up an running, a publicity tour is in the works.

In conclusion, Snacktivitymom.com will offer a unique experience to the internet market. The essence of Snacktivitymom.com is to get adults and kids together to create something fun out of food, while teaching healthy habits in an unobtrusive way. It brings the whole family together to learn good cooking and good eating. We believe that whole family will be united by doing the different Snackactivities. 

 
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Designers’ Challenges

Posted by admin on Oct 27, 2009 in ICM 501a, Module 5: Interactive Production

 
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Glorious Food

Posted by admin on Oct 26, 2009 in ICM 501a, Module 5: Interactive Production

My teammate Well comm has just published a post about Benchmark Assignment: Food, Glorious Food. We worked  as a group, which also includes Thinking Allowed, to complete this assignment. Special thanks to Well comm, because he is the one who drafted this assignment. In addition, I would like to thank Thinking Allowed for her creative ideas.

 
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Bloggers’ credibility

Posted by admin on Oct 19, 2009 in Module 4: Informing Professions
Bloggers Dillemma

Bloggers' Dillemma

Currently, many people, all over the world, are trying to be familiar with what is happening in their local areas and in the whole world. Some people claimed that the news that we receive is not credible. They blame journalism and journalists for not being able to provide the truth; in fact, some people already claimed that there is no need for journalists anymore. The blogosphere is strongly threatening the journalists’ position in our society. The “blogging revolution” is the next generation of what we know today as journalism. Furthermore, bloggers seem strong candidates to take journalists’ place, but, can we trust bloggers? In this post, I will discuss two notions: the first one is the idea of using blogging as strategy to defeat competitors, and the second one is the idea using blogging as word of mouth engine to gain some advantages over the release of new products.

Company’s strategies and bloggers

On one hand, Scoble, R. & Israel, S. (2006), in their book “Naked Conversations” mentioned that “blogging is not just wise for businesses wishing to be closer with their customers, but essential. We envision a day in the near future when companies that don’t blog will be held suspect to some degree, with people wondering whether those companies have something to hide or whether the owners are worried about what the people who work for them have to say” (p.1). They brought Microsoft as an example of companies that are not using blogging to be closer from their consumers and stated that “Microsoft has moved the needle toward humanizing a company so recently likened to the Borg” (p.21). On the other hand, I believe that the war of getting close to consumers and building credibility with them has other anonymous purposes. In fact, some companies are using bloggers that already established credibility with people in order to defeat other companies. The fact that some companies will do whatever it takes to make their competitors weak or win a war toward new technology is really obvious. For example, Greenburg, A. (2007), in his article “The secret strategies many “viral” videos“, indicated that he was working in a company and his job is to make videos “viral”. He mentioned that one of the strategies to boost the ratings and the number of the viewers is to “reach out to individuals who run relevant blogs and actually pay them to post our embedded videos. Sounds a little bit like cheating/PayPerPost, but it’s effective and it’s not against any rules”. Greenburg used this example in order to show how to make a video “viral”; however, imagine how companies use blogging to maintain their profits and absolutely weaken their competitors in order to win a war over new technology. This really surprises me of how companies run their business and employ other unannounced strategies. Clearly, some bloggers can’t be trusted, because no one knows what the goals behind some posts are.

Blogging as word of mouth engine

Word of mouth

Scoble, R. & Israel, S. (2006), in their book “Naked Conversations” stated that blogging “is one of the most powerful components to emerge so far in a communications revolution that has been going on for quite some time and is now reaching its tipping point” (p.4). I totally agree with the notion that blogging is the most powerful tool to come into view in the communication revolution; however, they also mentioned that “blogging is one huge word-of-mouth engine” (p.44). Well, can we trust a word of mouth? In fact, a word of mouth means only one thing which is gossip and gossips are never true. In addition, some companies are using blogging as tool gain some advantages over the release of new products. For example, Scoble, R. & Israel, S. (2006) indicated that “Apple also spends advertising dollars in nontraditional ways that generate word of mouth” (p.42). This example is clearly pointing to that idea that certain companies, such as Apple, can employ any strategies, including using blogging to generate a word of mouth, in order to win the war over releasing new products. I discovered that it is very difficult to measure the credibility of many bloggers in the blogosphere.

Conclusion

To sum up, I have mentioned that it is really hard to trust the bloggers nowadays. Some companies are paying money to some bloggers in order to embed certain kind of videos in their posts. This process destroys the credibility of the bloggers. Furthermore, I have indicated that some companies are also paying huge amount of money to generate a word of mouth, and if we consider the fact that blogging is a huge word of mouth engine, we will know precisely how some bloggers operate and where they get their profits form. After all, I have to mention that there are certainly bloggers who are really credible. My proposal is: always try to get some information about the blogger, for example, his/her level of education, his/her current job, and why he/she is blogging.

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