Week 1

Feb 5th 2021

When We Build, Wilson Miner

 

Summary:

Wilson Miner, a designer in San Francisco starts off by talking about his childhood and how his father collected things. Miner repeats with the words of Marshall McLuhan, “we shape our tools and thereafter out tools shape us”. Miner elaborates on how an introduction of a new medium changes the environment and talks about how we designers get to the impact the world with the things we create.

 

New:

The idea of how each time we introduce a new medium, it creates a new environment was a very fresh perspective I got introduced to through this talk. Tools and products which are results of our creation have the power to change how we behave as humans. Wilson very rightly mentions that cars are a huge example of how a creation can totally change the way we live in this world.

 

Right:

Wilson’s point about tools being an extension of humans is something I totally agree with. As we know, tools are things that help us perform tasks efficiently. And these tasks, in the absence of tools, would be done using none other than our body parts themselves (hands, mind). So, these creations and tools are really just extensions of us. As Wilson mentions, the computer is an extension of our brain and helps us do tasks faster and more efficiently what our minds would be in the past in the absence of these computers.

 

Wrong:

There was not a lot I could disagree with in the talk as there was so much sense being made in every sentence Wilson Miner was saying. Although, he mentions that a response to a nipple is the only intuitive activity humans do, which I sort of disagree too. I believe babies tend to do multiple things on their own, without being taught or having observed some else to prove this theory wrong. Their actions to do things without being taught or influenced is a result of our natural instinct, curiosity. The reason behind the success of a plug and socket is because by human instinct, every hole needs to be filled with something. Babies try to insert their fingers in tiny spaces between the carpet on their own, no one teaches them that. This is a very tiny example, but I do believe that human have a large number of things they do intuitively.

 

Big Impact: 

The fact that collections are empty vessels like totems which are actually just symbols of us, really impacted me. I really never saw the activity of collection in this light and it really blew my mind.

 

Week 2

Feb 10th 2021

The Web's Grain, Frank Chimero

 

Summary:

The Web’s Grain is an interpretation of Frank Chimero’s talk in Webstock, 2015. Frank Chimero is a designer and writer based in Brooklyn who expresses his interest, experience and thoughts about web design through the Web Grain. Responsive design is thoroughly explored in the reading and Chimero also expresses his opinions about the entire system in detail. He displays his disappointment with the direction the medium is going and tells the readers about his wish, “a desire of a technology of grace, one that lives well within its role.” He urges the readers to think about the prime function of a website and how we design it thinking of it as a blank canvas when in reality it should be designed with priority given to the elements before we add the bounding walls for restrictions. The reading summarises how responsive designing has become a nightmare for most designers and suggests we think of websites as a material to build with instead of a tool that is infinitely malleable. 

 

New:

Chimero’s introduction to the Beginner’s mind from Buddhism was a new concept for me and I was extremely intrigued by it. The method refers to being open and eager about opportunities by dropping large bags of preconceived notions and looking at the opportunity in a new perspective. It taught me how not just new opportunities, but ever opportunity should be treated like this.

 

Right:

Chimero presents an extremely interesting example to explain the difference between static design and web design. He uses a comparison between the Mona Lisa and David Hockney’s photo piece The Scrabble Game. The Mona Lisa has fixed edges and uniform edges that gives complete control over the result, whereas Hockney’s piece is an edgeless surface displaying unknown proportions with a composition formed with variable elements which leads to an uncertain result. I admire the thought behind the correlation and agree with the fact that Hockney’s piece does complete justice to the main aspect of web design, fluidity.

Wrong:

It was difficult to find something to disagree with in the entire reading but there was one point which I felt I did not completely agree with. Chimero calls Apple’s website a ‘monstrosity’ and says that it does not behave like a website should. I agree that the overall website does not sit among the behavior of most websites but I do believe that it satisfies the main purpose of the company, showcasing and selling products. The website takes the viewer through a series of products and displays each of them in a full screen view with extreme detail and various perspectives faking the feeling of a 360 degree view. Online shopping for products misses the opportunity to actually see a product in real life and I believe Apple’s website has solved that problem too with this 360 degree view solution. This doesn't mean that I completely agree with how the website is created but according to me it's not a bad website and does well in the area it needs to, product showcase.

 

Big Impact: 

In my opinion, the big idea of the reading was to help readers understand what approach they were taking when designing websites and what were the consequences of those choices. The reading also emphasized on what was the correct approach of starting a website and how to be successful in designing a website which is successfully responsive and also maintains the creative direction in all sizes and dimensions. Lastly, there was a lot of importance given to the way the text was presented and I that made the reading less like a blog post and more like a dynamic experience completed with audio and video inputs.

 

Week 3

Feb 22nd 2021

Just Enough Research, Erika Hall

 

Summary:

This talk by Erika Hall walks one through an extremely efficient process of how to perform research and work for any design and development project. She starts with relating to the audience about a common need of being right all the time. Sliding into the factor of uncertainty, she discusses how when we design products, we are putting our design out in the world where we lose all power and cannot control how people interact with it. She asks an important question about why bad products and designs exist in the world when we know how to make good ones. She believes the answer to that question is a lack of asking questions. Hall then takes the audience through an entire list of steps to follow to perform effective research and the importance of asking questions. 

 

New:

All this time I believed research was gathering information but this talk made me realize that research was more importantly about asking questions, and specifically the right questions. Only when a person needs an answer to a question will they have a sense of direction. The other thing that was something new to me was the idea of talking to people alone when conducting interviews. In all my past experiences, I’ve always had the perception that more the people, higher the amount of information which is still be true, but the key here is that those people need to be spoken to separately which gives them an opportunity to be completely candid. 

 

Right:

I really resonated with the idea of the gap we had between our personal assumptions and the actual working world. And how the only effective way to close that gap was to gain knowledge. This knowledge comes through research and helps us confirm or reject our assumptions to have a clearer and more concrete image of the world/problem we are dealing with. 

 

Wrong:

A lot of what Erika Hall mentioned in her talk made sense to me and due to a lack of anything wrong to find, here is something is minimal, but a point of disagreement. During the talk Erika mentioned something about millennials and then countered that by saying “Millennials aren’t even a real thing”. The word being a part of the dictionary and a very real and existing term for a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century can’t not be a ‘real thing’. She might have a different agenda of saying that statement but I couldn’t agree to her statement. 

 

Big Impact: 

The talk made me realize I had been lacking knowledge about the overall concept of research. The process was broken down by Erika in three main parts, asking questions, gathering data and analysing the data. In my opinion her method is pretty straightforward and does justice to each aspect of the project. And I believe I need to make it a part of my research strategy in the future too. The other thing I realized was that I needed to stress on the importance of asking questions and being a good listener. I believe this talk has given me a great lead to follow to increase my knowledge and perform effective research for all my future projects.  

 

Week 4

Feb 28th 2021

Color in UI Design: A (Practical) Framework, Erik D. Kennedy

 

Summary:

Erik D Kennedy’s article talks about the color scene in UI design. He talks about how many people have talked about color theory in a rather confusing way and doesn’t encourage productivity. He suggests designers move towards a technique called Color Modifications for choosing colors. According to him is the best one out there, and Color Modifications is, “The fundamental skill of coloring interface designs is being able to modify one base color into many different variations.” He walks readers through the entire process of how to use this technique as well as the pros and cons of it, but mostly pros.

 

New:

Color Modification itself was quite a new concept for me but the instance when Kennedy picked real world examples and emphasized on the patterns found in the values of the variations was a real eye opener. The other thing that was new to me was the section about Luminosity. The point feels quite obvious, but I never really thought about the fact that different colors may require a different amount of brightness for all to look equally bright (if that made sense). 

 

Right:

I was not just impressed by the color variation method but I was also converted into a loyal fan by the end of the article. I agree to all the points made, I believe it makes a lot of sense, I want to use this method and I will save this article for future reference. I think I couldn't agree more. 

 

Wrong:

To be honest, I read through the article thrice. But I wasn't able to find anything I personally disagreed with. Some people might disagree with Kennedy calling the split complementary palette useless but I don’t think I disagree too.

 

Big Impact: 

As I mentioned above, I definitely was impressed by the color modification method. I am a fan of biomimicry and as the source of this method also is nature and the real life examples of shadow, I am all for it. I believe I will be using the method in my inventory project and hopeful will see results. Also, the example Kennedy shared in the article of an interface all with just one color modified was a really strong visual. So simple yet so beautiful and fully functional.   

 

Week 5

Mar 7th 2021

Crash Course: UI Design: Jeff Wang

 

Summary:

Jeff Wang's crash course to UI design helps readers know the correct and perfect difference between UI design and UX design, something that needs to be emphasized more in the world where these terms are used interchangeably. He also mentions Jesse Garrett’s breakdown of UX Design and it’s five levels. Wang explains the five levels and goes deep into each of the elements and also gives illustrative examples for each.

 

New:

The F shaped reading pattern was a new concept for me. I knew about having the logo in the top left was a rule in design but now I finally had an answer or a reason for that rule which helped me understand the entire concept of the eye scanning pattern. I tried to do a test on myself too and I realized that the F button is how our eyes move. In the future I will definitely be using this method to check my design and will keep it in mind for further project. 

 

Right:

The idea ‘less is more’ was mentioned in the principles section of the visual hierarchy under color. I definitely agree to that, but I also believe that the idea applies to other things and not just color. Things like use of multiple fonts, layers and components, are other things in UX that need guidance of this method. For me, simplicity is key but also elegant and essential.

 

Wrong:

In the entire reading I did not find a lot of things that I could disagree to but I believe the section about legibility is something that should be given more importance in the design community. Today, designers are coming up with designs where the visual aspect is given more importance and legibility less. In my opinion that is not the right way to do things and I believe that that is where most designers are going wrong. I personally believe that not only is it important to make things readable enough but also to emphasize the importance of word as and when required. 

 

Big Impact: 

The five levels of UX design that were mentioned in the reading - strategy, scope, structure, skeleton and surface was a really great break down according to me. It covered every component and gives the designer a correct mindset which helps them design in an organized way. The other thing that Wang mentioned that held great importance was the principles section which involved clarity, feedback, consistency, learn from examples and visual hierarchy. Reading about all the principles was really helpful and the details about visual hierarchy like typography, white space and color was a good revision course that I needed.

 

Week 6

Mar 15th 2021

Words as Material: Nicole Fenton

 

Summary:

Nicole Fenton speaks about her many years of experience in the design industry and how she and most of her colleagues/friends believe that communication is the main problem for any unsuccessful design project. There is a clear breakdown of communication that follows the problem section and specifies the idea of communication in its 4 phases - self, team, product and public. Next, Fenton describes the idea behind writing for digital products and how people work hard on boiling down abstract concepts to tiny digestible components for users. The crux of the article comprises Fenton's description of the gap - which is, writers not being involved enough in design processes. The remaining of the article focuses on understanding this problem and its very well thought out solutions.

 

New:

Thich Nhat Hanh’s concept about interbeing was something very new for me. I think it's the first time I read/heard the word (this could also be because I am not a native english speaker.) The concept made sense to me and I felt like it was something I wanted to ponder upon with a cup of coffee. The other thing that I was introduced to was the breakdown of the concept of communication. The 4 levels as mentioned above are self, team, product and public but the most impactful point for me was the product and its description - “try to make the product speak for itself.” I never really thought about making products speak for themselves, for me, a product was always the medium, not its own entity.

 

Right:

When Fenton talks about interviewing people, she mentions how she tries to dig deeper when people use empty words like “simple” or “user-friendly.”  I totally relate to this practice, I have often tried to get more out of such sentences too. While interviewing I make sure I express the need for elaboration from the interviewee after the use of such words for better results. I agree that these words don’t help us as designers. The other thing that I truly believe in is that designers need to trust the weirdness of the process. I can't stress more on how important trusting the process is because the process is what makes or breaks the result. In most cases, it is the uncertainty that allows open mindedness to new and innovative solutions.

 

Wrong:

Quite like the other articles, there wasn't much I could find to disagree with. The only thing that might be something that I don't resonate with as much is the interview methods. Fenton describes that she creates multiple choice questions to get better answers for interviews but I believe interviews should comprise open ended questions so the feedback can be 100% honest and unbiased. Multiple choice questions (in my opinion, I could be wrong) in interview scenarios might work like feeding words to the interviewee and I believe options make them choose the least worse option not the best.

 

Big Impact: 

This article was longer than most readings we have had so far but it was highly informative. Understanding and reflecting on the importance of communication in design is definitely a huge topic and the article does a good job of covering almost everything relevant. Although, in my honest opinion, I didn’t feel like there was a huge impact on me from this reading like the others. I wasn’t ‘blown away’ by anything and quite possibly the reason for that might be the straightforward delivery.

 

Week 7

Mar 21st 2021

What is Responsive Design: An Introduction by Rebecca Costa

Responsive Web Design - 10 Basics by Jesse Showalter

 

Summary:

The article by Rebecca Costa summarizes the entire responsive part of UX Design which no doubt is its biggest part today. Very rightly, Costa calls Responsive Design non-negotiable. She discusses the whats of responsive design and the importance of practising responsivity. The traits of 

Responsive design are the following:

1) Breakpoints - Designers should have 3 minimum breakout points according to the article but in my opinion, I believe a minimum of 4 breakpoints is necessary (desktop, horizontal tablet, vertical tablet and mobile size) 

2) Optimized visuals - Designers should use high quality images and real text for websites to perform well.

3) Careful Mobile Design - Starting with mobile design results to high performing websites as that lets the designer prioritize with the most important elements to highlight. 

 

Google has moved to mobile design first and they believe the best way of doing so is by the following - maintaining content through sizes, use of same metadata, and high quality visual content (correct file naming and addition of alt text is important.)

 

Costa wraps up the article with best practises to follow like:

  1. Visual hierarchy - Websites need to adapt to breakpoints but the soul should remain the same.

  2. Button - The button size should be a minimum of 10mm, the colors should be wisely chosen and the microcopy should give max context.

  3. Prioritize navigation - the menu bar needs to be designed in a way that it can adapt to the small area in mobile because it usually is the most important part of the website for navigation.

 

The video Responsive Web Design - 10 Basics by Jesse Showalter on the other hand was extremely straightforward:

  1. Responsive vs adaptive (go for responsive) 

  2. The flow (content goes from horizontal to vertical in mobile)

  3. Relative units (% & vw/vh are units that help designing responsive websites easily)

  4. Breakpoints (add breakpoints to manage layouts and columns)

  5. Max & Min val (important to set limits for text legibility, image sizes)

  6. Containers (nest things inside boxes to make them work harmoniously)

  7. Mobile or Desktop (what to design first is really the designer’s choice)

  8. Web Fonts vs System fonts (webfonts take longer time to load and might get replaced if not available)

  9. Bitmap vs Vectors (use vectors for logos and icons, image should be in bitmap formats)

  10. Make it work (make your website work in as many sizes and scenarios as possible)

New:

The video specified how web fonts took a much longer time to load and that made me wonder how these new designer websites are pulling it off, using fancy fonts and still making the websites load at a fast pace. 

 

Right :

The most accurate part about the text assigned for this week was the designing of the website starting from mobile to laptop. This makes sense as it will be way easier to go from smaller screen sizes to bigger. I had been doing the complete opposite and will try starting from mobile for my upcoming projects. 

 

Big Impact: 

Websites should have the “liquid’s ability to fill any type of glass”. This really resonated with me and I felt like it was the perfect way to summarize the entire concept of responsive design. With the increase in the usage of phones these days, it is of utmost importance to have a responsive website. Google mentions that websites that aren't correctly responsive and may not appear as high ranks on Google searches. This made me go back to my website and make sure the mobile was an equally efficient experience for the user. Even though the desktop is usually what one thinks of when websites come into play, designers need to adapt to this shift of size with time.

Week 8

Mar 27th 2021

How to get start up ideas: Paul Graham

 

Summary:​

Paul Graham takes the readers into a deep dive about startup businesses, covering the mistakes, inspiration, tips and tricks about any business in today’s market. He has quite a bit of an insight on how startups are created and I think it helps people like me (young and still in college) to start thinking about our life path. Graham touches on Apple, Microsoft and Facebook, companies that can’t not be mentioned during such conversations as they act as inspiration to millions of minds. It comes down to what we learn from their actions and decisions and what makes them so successful. He also gives examples of bad start ups, making readers aware about not only the steps they should follow, but also the mistakes they shouldn't make. 

New:

I think as I haven't researched much about startups, a lot of the points mentioned in the article were new to me. Although, what I learned from this read is not something temporary, but something  I'd like to remember forever, ‘don’t find solutions to problems that do not exist.’ I plan to use this while thinking about my third project too because instead of thinking about a problem people ‘might’ have, I want to find a solution to a problem that actually exists in the real world and might genuinely help someone. 

 

Right :

I agree about the fact that the entire process of start ups is based on trial and error and there isn't a perfect recipe to make the best pie. One needs to ‘organically’ feel for the idea, learn from mistakes, explore new ways and make the business their own. I believe that is what brings the dedication in, and when one decides to put all their effort to make something worthwhile, they are more likely to succeed.

Wrong:

There wasn’t anything wrong I could spot in the article, and I believe the author has given the topic quite some thought. Most of the things in the reading are well thought through, and encourages the readers to think. But I believe the article felt a bit dry and lengthy. The lack of visuals made it difficult to stay focused and interested after a while and I felt that the topic in light could have been expressed in lesser words. And maybe, the words could be more specific too.

Big Impact: 

The best part about the reading according to me, is that it not only introduces the idea of start ups to the reader and encourages one to start exploring their options in the field, but also prepares one with the correct mindset. It prepares one to face anything, and to keep in mind that not all startups make it to the finish line.

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