Sunday, April 17, 2011

Information Architecture: Readings and Solution

Our final project in Information Architecture has started, and I'm looking forward to the outcome. This will be a new experience for our entire class, as we are designing applications for the iphone operating system. 

We are beginning with one of the subcultures that our class has researched into. Since I chose the bike commuter subculture for the last User Experience project, I'll be designing for the sustainable DIY subculture. 

After reviewing the DIY research book, particularly to the task analysis, and reviews, I brainstormed and considered a wide range of topics to gear this new application toward. In the end, I've decided to create an application assisting DIYer's in joining together in collectives and organizations. DIYer's naturally work on an individual basis, but there is a hidden desire to work together, share knowledge, and above all contribute to society. My application will make a community where DIY users can easily group together based on individual interests, skills, location, etc., and help them find opportunities with volunteer organizations such as those assisting with natural disasters and even community issues on a much more localized level. 

Designing for the iphone has proven to be a difficult and interesting experience thus far. The screen is far smaller than your typical computer screen, and legibility and organization seem to be major concerns. I'm hoping to capitalize on both the gestures used to interact with the iphone interface and icons to help maximize screen real estate. 

Here are the 5 points I found most interesting from the first 2 readings on the subject of designing for the iphone platform.

1. Gestures Reading: Supported Gestures
The 8 listed gestures listed under the table section were a great reference. I haven't had much experience with the iphone, so it's nice to know the simple interface options that bridge hand and software.

2. Icons Reading: Immediacy
Icon immediacy is imperative to icon effectiveness. The examples of the brush were great in showing excess detail, and the importance of simplification in form. 

3. Icons Reading: Standard Icons
I thought this section was the most helpful of my listed 5. Knowing what icons are used across the iphone platform is infinitely helpful. It was also interesting hearing that they are used in many different situations.

4. Icons Reading: Cohesiveness
Cohesiveness is a design essential. You don't want a finalized design solution to seem pieced together and mismatched. The series of balls was a great example in following a similar theme as well.

5. Gestures Reading: Custom Gesture Tips
The custom gestures section shared some great information on capitalizing on the iphones touch interactive features. It also never occurred to me that fingers of the user do cover a good portion of the screen space. It's important to consider that in the design.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Information Architecture: Aperture

So today is my critique for my Aperture camera collection website. It's currently up on our schools server for you to look at too; just click the link below!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hey Weight Weenie: After Critique

So the critique went fairly well. I'm definitely happy with the end result of the weight weenie campaign, and look forward to using it as a portfolio piece. It's been a great insight into another design system that is applicable to society, and a great new exploration into the worlds of design research and the study and targeting of a particular subculture. I'll be sure to use the design research skills we've learned in future work.

On another note, there are a few things that can always be improved. The U-lock section of the campaign still needs work. The chain pattern isn't working well with the audience either, and I think I need to re-evaluated designing for the bike rack. I've considered designing something that wraps around the bar of the bike rack rather than existing on a u-lock that might be missed or torn off. And although it might have been out of my budget and time constraints, I would like to explore different materials for printing and design as well. Should I have designed the wrap that would attach to a bike rack's main bar, paper would have been flimsy and unpractical when it rains. Some sort of plastic or signage material would be interesting to look into, and might spark some research on my part into the world of industrial and package design.

The rest of the campaign however turned out great. I'm pleased with the patterns and the fact that it is guerilla advertising that penetrates and resounds within the subculture is fantastic. It's always a great thing to design something that will be kept as opposed to thrown away. The idea of collectibility is also something new to my work, and designing in a series certainly lends to that desire to trade and gather these different patterns and statements. The bandanas in particular were my favorite part of the project. I've never used textile products in my designs, so it was great to include that, and using them as a highly visual form of advertising, completely devoid of text was a great learning experience as well. Design that functions in that way is very interesting and powerful stuff, and lends to the underground and unknown secrets of a subculture.

Below is a scribd file of my presentation at critique, plus the font that wasn't on my presentation computer. I've certainly learned the importance of using fonts available across multiple systems.

Hey Weight Weenie Presentation

Type 4: Question Exploration

So I've been doing some simple exploration into my chosen question from last class; How can the shapes of a modular typeface shift and interact with one another? Since then I've used simple cellophane, dry erase markers, and good ol' illustrator to help expand on my thoughts.

This first round is an exploration into layers, and how the shifting of layers containing half of a letter's modular shapes affect legibility when moved closer and farther to and from the human eye. I noticed that with perspective, the shapes needed to be far smaller when closer to the human eye to appear the same size as the ones in the farthest layer. It's interesting to see the difference in scale between the layers placed side by side. This idea has been played with already, but I would like to have the typically straight on reading angle become an angled view through parallel layers, or even angle layers in space. I like the idea of taking type out of the usual single plane reading experience. In some of them such as this 3 and S, I placed the layers at an angle to each other. The 3 is at a 45 degree angle to the farthest layer, and I had to slightly adjust the angle of the lines in the closer layer to fit the perspective. The closest sheet for the S was bent in a curve, so the shapes needed to be rounded slightly, so their flat edges appeared straight.

Pardon the poorly drawn shapes, dry erase marker isn't a very precise tool. The first is a B, the next is a lowercase e, the next is an S, and the final letter is a lowercase a.

Next, I focused on the idea of modular shapes and the grid. I am interested in the idea of a typeface generator, similar, but different than the popular rubix cube generator below. So my idea (just a possibility) is to use the tiles of a sliding puzzle, but rather than having the tiles form an image like they typically would, they would simply hold the modular shapes. The user can then slide the modular shapes around in relation to each other and create multiple letterforms. I would love to have this make prints as well.

So here, we see a lowercase g on the left, and an upper case E on the right. The color is just to show the letterforms, although they could be printed different colors or something.

Finally, I've been messing with the idea of taking a word, then using the same pieces for each letter, make a new word of the same length that's related. So for example, I've chosen test and quiz. The letter t in test is made with the same pieces making the letter q in quiz. It's interesting to overlap them in transparency to see the similarities and differences in modular form. In this shift between words, the user is forced to make certain design decisions to keep legibility. This is particularly because the user might not have the shapes or the number of certain shapes they would prefer, and have to use what they have. In typography, letterforms are noticeably different from one another, and often by overlapping them, we see their differences. By using the same moveable parts, we can really study the differences and similarities in the letterforms that make a word.

I'm also very interested in the idea of creating a very organic typeface that mimics hand drawn qualities, but still using modularity. I haven't tested this yet, but will update when I do. I'm not sure if I'll forsake the grid or stick to it. I think that creating organic form can be done by using a grid however, and I'm up to the challenge.