Quotation-as-title by Chateaubriand. Image from top-linked post.
Tag: design (page 1 of 2)
The average age of those who play video games? Early thirties, and rising. So, I’m happy to say that purchasing Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in 2019.
It’s an incredible, immersive game within which you could easily lose a few hours at a time. And, just like games like Fortnite, it’s being tweaked and updated after release to improve the playing experience. Particularly the online aspect.
What interests me in particular as an educator and a technologist is the way that the designers are thinking carefully about the in-game mechanics based on what players actually do. It’s easy to theorise what people might do, but what they actually do is a constant surprise to anyone who’s ever designed something they’ve asked another person to use.
Engadget mentions one update to Red Dead that particularly jumped out at me:
The update also brings a new system that highlights especially aggressive players. The more hostile you are, the more visible you will become to other players on the map with an increasingly darkening dot. Your visibility will increase in line with bad deeds such as attacking players and their horses outside of a structured mode, free roam mission or event. But, start behaving, and your visibility will fade over time. Rockstar is also introducing the ability to parlay with an entire posse, rather than individual players, which should also help to reduce how often players are killed by trolls.
In other words, anti-social behaviour is being dealt with by games mechanics that make it harder for people to act inappropriately.
But my favourite update?
The update will also see the arrival of bounties. Any player that’s overly aggressive and consistently breaks the law with have a bounty placed on their head, and once it’s high enough NPC [Non-Playing Characters] bounty hunters will get on your tail. Another mechanism to dissuade griefing but perhaps a missed opportunity to allow players to become temporary bounty hunters and enact some sweet vengeance on the players that keep ruining their gameplay.
We have a tendency in education to simply ban things we don’t like. That might be excluding people from courses, or ultimately from institutions. However, when it’s customers at stake, games designers have a wide range of options to influence the outcomes for the positive.
I think we’ve got a lot still to learn in education from games design.
Making a good product is an important responsibility, especially if the product is close enough to someone that it can be the difference between life and death. Even though the end result might by calm, designing a calm, human-centered product requires some anxiety and perfectionism from everyone on the team, not just the designer.
She’s designed a Calm Design quiz, gives a score card for your product. As the quiz applicable to every kind of product, not just apps, it has questions that you can skip over if they’re not relevant — e.g. whether the products has physical buttons with a blue screen.
It’s a clever way to package up design principles, I think. For example, without reading her book, and over and above regular accessibility guidelines, I learned that the following might be good for MoodleNet:
- Stable interfaces
- Grouping frequently used icons
- Allowing users to prominently display favourite commands
- Turning Notifications off by default (except the most important ones)
- Allow export of user data at any time
- Include different notification types based on importance
- Maintain some functionality even without internet connection
It’s a great approach, and it would be very interesting to score some of most favourite (and least favourite) products. For example, as I said to Dai during the podcast when we discussed this, my Volvo V60’s driver display would score pretty highly.
Source: Amber Case
“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” (John M. Culkin)
I choose not to use or link to Facebook services, and that includes Instagram and WhatsApp. I do, however, recognise the huge power that Instagram has over some people’s lives which, of course, trickles down to businesses and those looking to “live the Instagram lifestyle”.
The design blog Dezeen picks up on a report from an Australian firm of architects, demonstrating that ‘Instagrammable moments’ are now part of their brief.
I’m all for user stories and creating personas but one case looks like grounds for divorce, Bob is seen as the servant of Michelle, who wants to be photographed doing things she’s seen others doing
One case study features Bob and Michelle, a couple with “very different ideas about what their holiday should look like.”
While Bob wants to surf, drink beer and spend quality time with Michelle, she wants to “be pampered and live the Instagram life of fresh coconuts and lounging by the pool.”
In response to this type of user, designers should focus on providing what Michelle wants, since “Bob’s main job this holiday is to take pictures of Michelle.”
“Michelle wants pictures of herself in the pool, of bright colours, and of fresh attractive food,” the report says. “You’ll also find her taking pictures of remarkable indoor and outdoor artwork like murals or inspirational signage.”
It’s easy to roll your eyes at this (and trust me, mine are almost rotating out of their sockets) but the historian in me finds this fascinating. I wonder if future generations will realise that architectural details were a result of photos been taken for a particular service?
Other designers taking users’ Instagram preferences into account include Coordination Asia, who recent project for restaurant chain Gaga in Shanghai has been optimised so design elements fit in a photo frame and maximise the potential for selfies.
Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger told Dezeen that he had noticed that the platform was influencing interior design.
Of course, architects and designers have to start somewhere and perhaps ‘instagrammability’ is a useful creative constraint.
“Hopefully it leads to a creative spark and things feeling different over time,” [Krieger] said. “I think a bad effect would be that same definition of instagrammability in every single space. But instead, if you can make it yours, it can add something to the building.”
Instagram was placed at number 66 in the latest Dezeen Hot List of the most newsworthy forces in world design.
Now that I’ve read this, I’ll be noticing this everywhere, no doubt.
Should you design for addiction or for loyalty? That’s the question posed by Michelle Manafy in this post for Nieman Lab. It all depends, she says, on whether you’re trying to attract users or an audience.
With advertising as the primary driver of web revenue, many publishers have chased the click dragon. Seeking to meet marketers’ insatiable desire for impressions, publishers doubled down on quick clicks. Headlines became little more than a means to a clickthrough, often regardless of whether the article would pay off or even if the topic was worthy of coverage. And — since we all know there are still plenty of publications focusing on hot headlines over substance — this method pays off. In short-term revenue, that is.
However, the reader experience that shallow clicks deliver doesn’t develop brand affinity or customer loyalty. And the negative consumer experience has actually been shown to extend to any advertising placed in its context. Sure, there are still those seeking a quick buck — but these days, we all see clickbait for what it is.
Audiences mature over time and become wary of particular approaches. Remember “…and you’ll not believe what came next” approaches?
Ask Manafy notes, it’s much easier to design for addiction than to build an audience. The former just requires lots and lots of tracking — something at which the web has become spectacularly good at, due to advertising.
For example, many push notifications are specifically designed to leverage the desire for human interaction to generate clicks (such as when a user is alerted that their friend liked an article). Push notifications and alerts are also unpredictable (Will we have likes? Mentions? New followers? Negative comments?). And this unpredictability, or B.F. Skinner’s principle of variable rewards, is the same one used in those notoriously addictive slot machines. They’re also lucrative — generating more revenue in the U.S. than baseball, theme parks, and movies combined. A pull-to-refresh even smacks of a slot machine lever.
The problem is that designing for addiction isn’t a long-term strategy. Who plays Farmville these days? And the makers of Candy Crush aren’t exactly crushing it with their share price these days.
Sure, an addict is “engaged” — clicking, liking, swiping — but what if they discover that your product is bad for them? Or that it’s not delivering as much value as it does harm? The only option for many addicts is to quit, cold turkey. Sure, many won’t have the willpower, and you can probably generate revenue off these users (yes, users). But is that a long-term strategy you can live with? And is it a growth strategy, should the philosophical, ethical, or regulatory tide turn against you?
The ‘regulatory tide’ referenced here is exemplified through GDPR, which is already causing a sea change in attitude towards user data. Compliance with teeth, it seems, gets results.
Designing for sustainability isn’t just good from a regulatory point of view, it’s good for long-term business, argues Manafy:
Where addiction relies on an imbalanced and unstable relationship, loyal customers will return willingly time and again. They’ll refer you to others. They’ll be interested in your new offerings, because they will already rely on you to deliver. And, as an added bonus, these feelings of goodwill will extend to any advertising you deliver too. Through the provision of quality content, delivered through excellent experiences at predictable and optimal times, content can become a trusted ally, not a fleeting infatuation or unhealthy compulsion.
Instead of thinking of your audience as ‘users’ waiting for their next hit, she suggests, think of them as your audience. That’s a much better approach and will help you make much better design decisions.
Source: Nieman Lab
While the prospects of me learning the Russian language anytime soon are effectively zero, I do have a soft spot for the country. My favourite novels are 19th century Russian fiction, the historical time period I’m most fond of is the Russian revolutions of 1917*, and I really like some of the designs that came out of Bolshevik and Stalinist Russia. (That doesn’t mean I condone the atrocities, of course.)
The Soviet era, from 1950 onwards, isn’t really a time period I’ve studied in much depth. I taught it as a History teacher as part of a module on the Cold War, but that was very much focused on the American and British side of things. So I’ve missed out on some of the wonderful design that came out of that time period. Here’s a couple of my favourites featured in this article. I may have to buy the book it mentions!
Source: Atlas Obscura
* I’m currently reading October: the story of the Russian Revolution by China Mieville, which I’d recommend.
Using the example of the innovation of a customised home page from the early days of Flickr, this article helps break down how to delight users:
Years ago, we came across the work of Noriaka Kano, a Japanese expert in customer satisfaction and quality management. In studying his writing, we learned about a model he created in the 1980s, known as the Kano Model.
The article does a great job of explaining how you can implement great features but they don’t particularly get users excited:
Capabilities that users expect will frustrate those users when they don’t work. However, when they work well, they don’t delight those users. A basic expectation, at best, can reach a neutral satisfaction a point where it, in essence, becomes invisible to the user.
Try as it might, Google’s development team can only reduce the file-save problems to the point of it working 100% of the time. However, users will never say, “Google Docs is an awesome product because it saves my documents so well.” They just expect files to always be saved correctly.
So it’s a process of continual improvement, and marginal gains in some areas:
One of the predictions that the Kano Model makes is that once customers become accustomed to excitement generator features, those features are not as delightful. The features initially become part of the performance payoff and then eventually migrate to basic expectations.
Lots to think about here, particularly with Project MoodleNet.