Week 9- Screen Design and Usability Saturday, May 29 2010 

Usability in Screen Design

In this learning portfolio I will be exploring the important fundamentals of usability within screen design. A Webpage with easy usability is proven to be more aesthetically pleasing to a user. First impressions will usually last, therefore various steps and procedures should be carried out to ensure the usability of your web page is up to standard (“User Centred design,” n.d.).

“User-centered design (UCD) is an approach to design that grounds the process in information about the people who will use the product. UCD processes focus on users through the planning, design and development of a product” (“User Centred design,” n.d.).

User Centred Design (UCD) is a concept that should be explored when attempting to design an aesthetically pleasing web page. UCD focuses primarily on efficiency, effectiveness, satisfaction and limitations with relation to usability. Usability covers aspects such as user control, navigation, consistency, flexibility, currency, aesthetics and help. When designing for the web the language must be clear, this includes short and simple sentences with everyday words. The designer should avoid using more than sixteen words in a sentence, to cater for the user’s patience; the words should be active verbs to coincide with the passive user e.g. “Red Bull gives you wings”. Users will rarely spend more than 3 minutes on a web page; thus the information must be concise, scannable, credible and objective. User friendly information includes the use of bullet points, headings, key words and captions. In terms of page layout “Chunking” is a good idea, in which you can divide the information into three sections. As for the background, blue is a colour that is frequently used as it pushes the text forward. Fonts should be limited to two per page and preferably be Sans Serif; Verdana caters well for web scanning, whilst Italics must be easy to read if they are used. Interactive Links including site maps, search sections and print friendly options, allow for easy usability (Blythe, 2001, January 15).

A website should be planned and have consistency in design throughout the pages. Navigation structures, such as interactive buttons and icons, will increase the usability of a site. Graphics on a page should only be used if they add value to the page e.g. representing the meaning of the linguistic content. This also applies for sound and movie files, which are large in megabytes. It is also important for the designer to know the target user, and cater for any disadvantaged users such as the colour blind, vision impaired and deaf. Taking these factors into account will enhance the usability and in turn the aesthetics of one’s website (“User Centred design,” n.d.).

 

Usability Within Society

 

Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola logo provides aesthetical pleasure as it carries the colours of christmas. The classical font of its label provides aesthetic consistency and respectability, which in turn provides reliability. Coca-Cola caters well for usability with variations of the beverage ranging from diet coke and coke zero to vanilla and cherry coke. Coca-Cola is easily accessible, particularly within western society where it can be found in all supermarkets. In Australia, Coca-Cola can also be found within many fast food franchises: a company co-operation known as synergy. Coca-Cola usually uses active verbs within its slogan’s, such as “life tastes good” (“User Centred design,” n.d.)

Coca- Cola, n.d.

 

 

Nike

The logo of Nike has a white tick amidst a black background, which draws attention to the symbol and text. The active slogan “Just Do it” is a motivational statement, with connotations that suggest Nike will assist you in fulfilling your athletic ambitions. The black and white colours symbolize truth which allows an element of realism to be added to the statement. Nike caters for usability as it distributes an abundance of materials throughout various cultures across the world; in turn meaning that the product must appease specific cultural values (“User Centred design,” n.d.).

Nike, n.d.

 

Iphone

The Iphone is the modern day epitome of usability. The IPhone possesses the internet as well as other multimedia facets. The IPhone can take photos and send visual voicemail, as well as perform the standard procedures of a phone, such as text messaging. The IPhone also possesses a multi touch screen which includes a virtual keyboard, of which also enables a user to type up a word document. The Iphone also includes applications such as GPS Navigation, Social Networking and Games. With multiple accessories, the Iphone has great usability. It’s transportability is by far the most enabling aspect, in which a university student could be participating in social networking or typing up an essay, whilst they are sitting in a lecture theatre or on the train home. The marketing of the Iphone was almost solely based upon its usability.

Iphone, n.d.

  

References

User Centred design. [n.d.].Retrieved May 6, 2010, from the Usability Professionals Association Website:http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org/usability_resources/about_usability/what_is_ucd.html
 
Blythe, S. (2001, January 15). Writing for the Web: Elements of Effective Screen Design. Message Posted to:http://users.ipfw.edu/blythes/teach/writeforweb/design.htm 
 
Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic- Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 18-19). Massachusetts: Rockport.
 
 
n.d. Iphone. Retrieved 14 May, 2010 from:http://www.mapds.com.au/newsletters/0807/iphone_home.gif
 
 
Righi, C., & James, J. (2007) User Centred Design: Real Life UCD Cases. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann.
 
 
Thissen, F. (2002). Screen design manual: communicating effectively through multimedia‎. Germany: Springer-Verlag
 
 
 
 
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Week 10: Consistency and Aesthetics Saturday, May 29 2010 

Consistency in Good Usability 

 In this learning portfolio I will be discussing consistency as a key contributor to good usability. Consistency does not just mean more aesthetic pleasure, as it also increases the likelihood of the user being able to process the information. Consistency is effectively broken down into four fundamentals of Internal, external, functional and aesthetic consistency (Galitz, 1985). 

“Consistency in design is about making elements uniform — having them look and behave the same way. We often hear designers talk about consistent navigation, consistent page layouts, or consistent control elements. In each case, the designer is looking for a way to leverage the usability by creating uniformity” (Spool, 2005, September 15). 

Aesthetic consistency is traditionally what we find pleasing to the eye, usually with relation to human beauty, for example Angelina Jolie may be more aesthetically pleasing than Magda Szubanski. Aesthetic consistency works in the same way with design, in relation to colour, graphics and font being consistent throughout the design. Even if jumbled up words and mixed up colours are selected as part of your design technique, it should be consistent with the colours blending well together. Functional consistency refers to the linear progress in the way information should be set out. Functional consistency is achieved when the user is able to effectively engage with information, in turn allowing them to learn more efficiently. Existing connotations within a society should be considered when thinking about functionality, for example, most people know that the cross resembles Jesus Christ because it is a widely used symbol throughout society (Smith & Bebak, 2006). 

Internal consistency works on the notion of elemental interrelation within design, in terms of how things work together. An everyday example of internal consistency would be finding a computer lab inside a church, which would provide no internal consistency opposed to candles. External consistency is an extension of internal consistency in that it focuses on different systems with the same design, in many ways it is a broader definition of internal consistency. An example of external consistency could be that a hypnotist’s room possesses candles and other elements which resemble a church. However, it would be likely that a hypnotist would exclude other elements possessed within a church, giving evidence that external consistency is in fact rare (“Consistency and Repetition,” n.d.). 

St. Peter’s Church, n.d.

All four fundamentals mentioned, contribute to the process of providing an adequate web design. Aesthetics is the most important element as a web page that is not aesthetically pleasing will effectively be ignored by the user (Galitz, 1985). 

Everyday Examples

David Jones

Aesthetic consistency is evident within the David Jones logo, as we find it pleasing to the eye with the simplistic and consistent colours of black and white blending well together. The black and white colours provide the relevant connotations of a premium department store, if it were fluoro colours it would possess a lack of class. The label also has functional consistency in that it is set out clearly and easy to read clear, with ‘David Jones’ in white bold on top of a black background. Internal consistency is evident when walking into David Jones, as we find a classy department store. External consistency can be found internationally, with other department stores providing a similar style of logo, as well as a similar interior to that of David Jones (Smith & Bebak, 2006).

 David Jones, n.d.

 

Mcdonalds

Aesthetic consistency is also seen within the McDonalds logo, as we identify the logo with food, the yellow ‘M’ looking like two chips bent together. The yellow and red colours are common within fast food chains, thus providing the relevant connotations. If the ‘M’ were to be in rainbow colours it would not be as appetising to eat at McDonalds. The label has functional consistency in that it is an ‘M’ which is easily identifiable amidst the red background. Internal consistency is evident within McDonalds, as we find burgers and fries. External consistency can also be found throughout the world, with other fast food outlets providing similar services, in particular Burger King (Smith & Bebak, 2006).

McDonalds, n.d.

ECU

The ECU logo provides Aesthetic consistency with Earthy colours (Red, orange, white and blue), which are common theme amongst university logos and educational institutions. If the logo were to be pink, the students attending ECU may think that it will not be a serious learning experience. The ECU label has functional consistency in the letters “ECU” are easily identifiable, amongst the array of colours. Internal consistency is also evident, as we find lecture theatres, a library and tutorial rooms on the ECU campus. External consistency can be found throughout the world, with other universities providing similar services (Smith & Bebak, 2006).

ECU, n.d.

 
 
 
References
Consistency and Repetition. [n.d.].Retrieved May 13, 2010, from the Desktop Publishing Website: http://desktoppub.about.com/od/consistency/Consistency.htm
Galitz, W. (1985). Handbook of screen format design. John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic- Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 46). Massachusetts: Rockport

n.d. davidjones. Retrieved 18 May, 2010 from:  http://techgeek.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/2006317davidjoneslogo.gif

n.d. ecu. Retrieved 18 May, 2010 from:  http://www.education.ecu.edu.au/conferences/apdef/images/logos/ecu.jpg

n.d. mcdonalds. Retrieved 18 May, 2010 from:  http://deadlinescotland.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/mcdonalds1.jpg

n.d. St. Peters Church. Retrieved 18 May, 2010 from: http://www.planetware.com/i/photo/st-peters-church-leuven-b196.jpg

Smith, B., & Bebak, A. (2006) Creating Web Pages for Dummies. Indiana: Wiley Publishing.

Spool, J. (2005, September 15). Consistency in Design is the Wrong Approach. Message Posted to: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2005/09/15/consistency-in-design-is-the-wrong-approach/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 11: Performance Load (Chunking) Saturday, May 29 2010 

Chunking

In this learning portfolio I will be discussing the benefits of “Performance Load” in relation to chunking. Chunking is the idea that information should be broken into sections; in both professional careers and life on a broader perspective. ‘Performance Load’ outlines that the more workload the one receives, the more errors will one make. The harder the task the less motivation, therefore it is imperative that tasks be broken down (Sousa, 2006).

All information needs to be thought out on a basic level, working on no more than one task at a time to avoid confusion. Use of memory aids and the chunking of information make for a less overwhelming pursuit in relation to achieving a set task. Excuses make it easy for the cognitive process to outweigh the kinematic process; when completing a task there should be less thinking and more doing. The task should not just be thought about, but also acted out, as this will require less mental energy. When I think of the ‘performance load’ theory I use the analogy of trying to get to the top of a building, it is easier to take it step by step, rather than hesitating in trying to jump over 7 steps at once, in which your most likely to fall (Baine, 1986).

What is chunking?

Chunking is the act of organising information into separate parts, which in turn make a large task more manageable. Chunking makes efficient use of short term memory in relation to receiving and communicating information. The term ‘chunking’ was coined by Harvard psychologist George A, Miller in 1956 (“Chunking Principle,” n.d.).

“Research suggests that human beings can understand and remember no more than seven plus or minus two items of information at a time. This phenomenon is called the “chunking limit”. Further, as the complexity of the information increases the chunking limit decreases”(“Chunking Principle,” n.d.).

George Miller conducted a study of short-term memory, in which he recorded the human capacity to remember a group of numbers, several minutes after they had been initially communicated. George Millers results are expressed within his related journal article title “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two” with the results concluding that humans can only remember 7 items, with plus or minus two. It is wise to cater for this theory when distributing a formal document or presentation, for example, limiting the number of ideas or points to 9 per slide. Information that is presented in an effective way will have a greater chance of being interpreted on a broader scale. Categorising information will also make for effective communication (“Chunking Principle,” n.d.).

Baxy Ice- Cream, n.d.

One could relate the “chunking” theory into a hypothetical of having ten tubs of ice-cream in the freezer. If the lids on the ice-cream tubs are labelled, they become easier to differentiate between one another. However, if all the lids are the same we will suddenly descend into confusion, and have to go through the overwhelming process of checking under each lid to find our desired flavour. Once the ice-creams are put into categories we can quickly distinguish one flavour from another. Ice-cream labels make life easier for the consumer, just as ‘chunking’ saves time and allows information to be easily processed.

Imprtance of Psychology in Design

A study of psychology is fundamental in designing a web page or marketing a product. The consumer’s are always the most important element, therefore many companies understand the importance of singling out a target market, before selecting a design principle. Not understanding consumer behaviour may have chaotic consequences when making a  web design, or marketing a product (Sousa, 2006).

Coca-Cola successfully exploits the psychology of the consumer, with Christmas advertisements of Santa Claus giving children the notion that ‘If Santa is drinking coke then I should be drinking coke’. As the children process the advertisement it inturn has a domino effect with the mother or father often giving in to a nagging child. Coca-cola also exploits the notion of Australian culture on their website, in which they associate their product with the beach, hoping that customers in turn associate coke with Australian culture. Both these examples are evidence that Coca-Cola have undertaken an in depth study of psychology, and in turn consumer behaviour (Sousa, 2006).

Everyday Examples of Chunking

Noodles

Mi Goreng provides simple instructions as to how to cook the noodles. The instructions are short and simple so it is not too daunting for the consumer. There are also pictures on the packet, which gives an idea of the kinematic process that needs to be carried out.

Indomie, n.d.

Ikea 

When putting together furniture that has been bought from retailers, such as IKEA, instructions will be ‘chunked’ into chapters. Rather than having one massive task, the instruction manual is broken down into various steps to assist the customer.

Ikea, n.d.

 

References

Chunking Principle. [n.d.].Retrieved May 15, 2010, from the C & A Software Engineering Website: http://www.chambers.com.au/glossary/chunk.htm

Chunking. [n.d.].Retrieved May 15, 2010, from the Communications from Skills Training MindTools: http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/Chunking.htm

Baine, D. (1986). Memory and Instruction. New Jersey: Educational Technology

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 148-149). Massachusetts: Rockport

n.d. Baxy Ice-Cream. Retrieved 15 May, 2010 from: http://www.lianfu.cc/System/Upjpeg/20066114174073499.jpg

n.d. Indomie. Retrieved 15 May, 2010 from:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Indomie_(pack).jpg

n.d. Ikea. Retrieved 15 May, 2010 from:  http://tokyo5.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/ikea-logo.jpg

Sousa, D. (2006). How the brain learns. London: Sage

Week 12: Credibility and the Internet Saturday, May 29 2010 

Credibility in Web Design
 
In this learning portfolio I will be focussing on credibility in web design, whilst exploring various external examples of credibility. B.J Fogg, the author of Credibility and the World Wide Web, explores credibility as a key attribute in evaluating sources. In relation to a website, credibility in simpler terms can be defined as believability; therefore credibility is a perception of quality. The credibility of a source is objective, with the majority of users agreeing when a website is and is not credible. Trustworthiness is a primary element within credibility. A trustworthy source will appear to be fair and unbiased e.g., a web article that tells both sides of the story is an honest source, as it in turn will argue against their own interest. An evidently non-biased source will generally be perceived as credible, and be more influential. Credibility within a web site is important in persuading the user that the information presented is valid (Fogg, 2003).
 
Evaluating credibility will allow a user to distinguish a legitimate website from a hoax one. As we live in the information age we spend much of our time on the internet, in turn receiving much of our information online. The high computer usage of generation Y should mean that we are able to acknowledge a credible site. “Others advocate that Web surfers examine who the author is, how timely the content is, and how the content compares with similar content from trusted sources, such as experts in the field” (Fogg, 2003 pp.151). 
 
As a student the credibility of web sources can have a great affect on our research and studies. If we are not able to identify a credible source we become vulnerable to false and misleading information. If the knowledge that we obtain is not credible it will not be applicable within an educational environment, thus the research for an essay or exam may be carried out to no prevail (Fogg, 2003).

 

  
Wikipedia
  
Wikipedia is not accepted as a credible source for academic assignments as it is evidently apart of Web 2.0, a system in which the user has power to control the information of which a Wikipedia article displays. Critics of Wikipedia have accused the source of being bias in relation to the affirming the discourse of popular culture. Wikipedia is widely noted for its vulnerability to vandalism, which in turn leads to false information (Flanagin & Metzger, 2008). As a pastime I would frequently change and add information into a Wikipedia article that, although possessing an element of truth, was completely subjective, and dangerous if referred to for academic purposes.
  
Wikipedia, n.d.
  
  
My own sabotaging of a Wikipedia site, makes it is easy to see that any information received from Wikipedia can not be accepted as credible or reliable. If I were to complete an assignment on Nazism, the information absorbed from Wikipedia would have to be further researched in verifying its truth. If Wikipedia states that Adolf Hitler’s uncle was Jewish, I would first have to find an academic (credible) source, which also withholds the same statement. It is possible that this statement, which has been implemented into my assignment, may have been added by a seven year old child. If a source with similar information cannot be found, I will be submitting an untrustworthy document. When my Tutor marks my assignment they may see this statement, decide to research the information themselves, and in turn deem that my assignment is not credible.

    

The Future 

   

Peoples perception of Web credibility has changed as it has now become increasingly easier to set up a non-profit website. This in turn affects the value of a website.  

  

So what makes websites credible and what is changing as the web evolves?   
 
· Aesthetics has now become a dominant fundamental in relation to web design. Aesthetics contributes to credibility therefore; it is an essential element for a website to possess.   

· A site that only has writing, with no chunking, balance or consistency, and is generally set out in a boring format, will be blatantly ignored by users.   

· Users are becoming increasingly intolerable toward websites that do not provide current fundamentals such as: information which is scannable, easy to use hyperlinks or navigational elements, and obvious typographic dominance.   

· A badly dressed businessman, even if he excels in his occupation, is not credible. If he were to approach my door dressed in thongs and a singlet telling me he could sell my home for 1 million dollars, I would slam the door on him within seconds.   

· The above example can be applied to a website in terms of credibility, and modern day user behaviour. A badly designed website will not fit the Aesthetic expectations of the user, and thus the website will be deserted within seconds.   

· There may be nothing wrong with the information on the site, however, just like a badly dressed businessman, if it’s not presented in a suitable manner, it will inevitably be deemed as unprofessional, and in turn untrustworthy.   

Four Types of Web Credibility are:   

Presumed Credibility- The department of transport website possesses the Australian Coat of Arms, with ‘wa.gov.au’ signifying it is goverment related and presumably credible. 

Coate of Arms, n.d. 

 

Reputed credibility – The Chartered Accountants website holds the award as the number one business forum of 2010, inturn possessing the company and website with reputed credibility.  

C & A, n.d.  

   

   

Surface Credibility-The ninemsn website is professionally deigned with continuous news updates.ninemsn, n.d. 

   

Earned credibility- When I log in to the Commonwealth Bank website I am personally addressed. The bank efficiently answers customer questions and updates transaction records.  

commonwealth bank, n.d.  

  

   

References:   

Credibility. [n.d.].Retrieved May 27, 2010, from the Changing minds.org: http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/credibility.htm   

Flanagin, A., & Metzger, M. (2008). Digital media, youth, and credibility. Massachusetts: Institute of Technology.   

Fogg, B. J. (2003). Credibility and the World Wide Web. In Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do (pp. 122-125). Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.    

Fogg, B. J. (2003). Credibility and the World Wide Web. In Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do (pp. 147-181). Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.   

n.d. Chartered Accountants. Retrieved 27 May from: http://www.charteredaccountants.com.au/ 

n.d. Coate of Arms. Retrieved 27 May from:http://www.dpi.wa.gov.au/ 

n.d. Commonwealth Bank. Retrieved 27 May from:http://www.commbank.com.au/ 

n.d. ninemsn. Retrieved 27 May from:http://ninemsn.com.au/ 

n.d. Wikipedia. Retrieved 27 May from:http://blogs.toonboom.com/professional/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/wikipedia-logo.png 

Rogers, E. (1995). Diffusion of innovations.  New York: Free Press.   

Stanford Web Credibility Research. [n.d.].Retrieved May 27, 2010, from the Web Credibility Project: http://credibility.stanford.edu/