Module 4: Credibility

Q1
It is important to establish the credibility of websites, particularly those that operate as source of wider information, because websites are dependent on an impression of credibility and it is in their interests to persuade visitors of this. Plainly speaking, websites are businesses and they need web traffic in order to sustain themselves. Their first priority is to portray an image which is credible and trustworthy. If the ethos of the company behind the website is to be a resource of reliable information, then that is known only to them in the first instance. The user must establish their own sense of credibility on the basis of consistency and cross referencing with other sources.
In writing an academic essay, the foremost concern is the construction of a meaningful argument. If the research undertaken to form that argument is in any way fallible, perhaps as a result of using an unreliable web source, then the argument will be flawed, greatly affecting the essay’s worth. Regardless of the quality of writing, an academic essay must convey a convincing argument, based upon empirical principles of the subject.

Q2
Wikipedia is not a credible resource when conducting academic research because the author or authors cannot be verified and therefore established as credible. Wikipedia is a good resource for gathering elementary information on a subject. The strength of Wikipedia is that it is very accessible. It features a search engine so that visitors can gain a general introduction to a vast range of subjects within one domain. However, anyone can contribute to a Wikipedia article, or edit an existing one, and they can do so anomalously if they wish. As a result there can be no verification of authorship or accountability, thus making a Wikipedia article unsuitable for academic research.
It some cases the risk of using Wikipedia as a resource can be serious: “By its own admission, Wikipedia contains errors. A number of people have tested Wikipedia’s accuracy using destructive methods, i.e. deliberately inserting errors” (Chesney, 2006)
Authors who are published have gone through an evaluation process. Editors examine an author’s research and establish its credibility before publication. Wikipedia does not pretend to carry out the same process of evaluation before an article is posted online. Rather, it is the responsibility of those carrying out research to understand the distinction between credible resources.

Q3

A recent advent in web advertising is the ‘pop-up’, which had their beginnings on the web pages that were usually commercial in nature, or light in content – for example, an entertainment news site. Now it seems that the ‘pop-up’ has reached an almost ubiquitous presence on the web, and can be found on blue chip websites like Yahoo and YouTube. And while these particular sites are not known for their seriousness, they are still reputable. The increasing admission of the pop-up is notable and is probably part of an ongoing trend. The ‘pop-up’, due to its interruptive nature, is almost universally disliked among web users. Some ‘pop-ups’ are quite wiley in their design and hard to get rid of. If left unmeasured, their use will erode a websites apparent trustworthiness. It would appear now though that the ‘pop-up’ is a fact of life and this will present web concerns with ongoing issues of credibility.

Activity

Presumed Credibility: http://www.nytimes.com/

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The New York Times is the most circulated metropolitan newspaper in the United States. Having been awarded more Pulitzer prizes than any other the New York Times is arguably the most respected newspaper. However, this reputation was established through the print form, not online. That is not to say that The New York Times online is not credible, but it is generally accepted that online papers do not offer the same product as the original. Until The New York Times online reaches a similar level of acclaim as its print counterpart, first time visitors will likely be attracted due to Presumed Credibility.

Reputed Credibility: http://www.tripadvisor.com/

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Tripadvisor has built a worldwide reputation as a trusted source of accommodation options for would be travellers. There are many other online services of the same nature. People visit Tripadvisor because of recommendations provided by the wider travel industry.

Surface Credibility: http://www.eharmony.co.uk/

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eHarmony is a match making service, a product that is nebulous at best and requires a leap of faith from the subscriber. eHarmony seeks to impress visitors with a sleek looking, well designed home page, featuring a mission statement based upon an apparent scientific approach. For eHarmony, first impressions are everything.

Earned Credibility: https://www.google.com/

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When Google first originated in 1996, there were already a plethora of search engine websites, many of which enjoyed popularity. Through a period of steady growth, Google has become by far the largest company in the field, due to its perceived reliability and accuracy of results. The great stature of Google has been achieved from a standing start, so to speak. Google’s success might be explained, in part, by their use of a minimal, uncluttered interface and an absence of advertisers on the home page. Google users have their expectations met and this establishes a sense of trust. This is an example of Earned credibility.

REFERENCES
Chesney, T. (2006). An empirical examination of Wikipedia’s credibility. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/article/view/1413/1331

Module 3: Performance Load

Module 3
Q 1
Performance Load is the degree to which mental or physical effort is required to accomplish a goal. If Performance load is high, then the likelihood of the goal being accomplished successfully is low. If the performance load is low, then the likelihood of accomplishing the task successfully is high.
There are two types of Performance Load: Cognitive and Kinematic.
Cognitive load is defined by the degree of mental effort required to successfully accomplish a goal.
Kinematic load is defined by the degree of physical effort required to successfully accomplish a goal.
Good design should endeavour to embody a low performance load to effective usage ratio, thus increasing the useability of the product.
Q2
Chunking is a strategy that the brain can employ in order to break down information into bite-sized pieces so we can more easily comprehend new information, especially when it is presented in large amounts. We do this because there is a limit to how much information the human brain can hold at one time in what is called working memory, a place where information is manipulated and digested before reaching a decision. A good analogy would be the cache system in a computer.
“The use of chunks explains how greater knowledge can lead to an increased ability to extract information from the environment, in spite of constant cognitive limitations” (Gobet, 2001).
George A. Miller formulated the chunk concept in 1956 and although he posited then that the human brain could hold up to seven pieces of information at the one time, it is now thought that the number is closer to four or five pieces of information. The type of information that is being held also has an influence on its capacity to be stored. In addition, an individual may be better equipped to store certain types of information depending on their unique mental abilities.
“In a similar way to its application in chess, it is possible to apply the chunking theory to more general areas of education” (Gobet, 2001).
Chunking comes into play when addressing the performance parameters associated with Cognitive load. It is the act of organizing and presenting information as easily recognizable groups, so that the audience can understand and process your information quickly and clearly.

Q3
The effectiveness of visual design relies upon the first visual impressions received by the brain. Therefore it is logical to look at existing psychological research into the function of the brain and its response to visual stimulation in particular. The presentation of information must be clear for it to be quickly and agreeably understood. It is empirically recognised that visual elements such as colour, boldness and an effective use of negative space are psychological factors.
Visual design cannot rely upon research from the school of psychology alone. Aesthetics represent a field of study that is informed by traditions in art and culture but is also evolving continually. Market research can yield a more personal viewpoint and benefit design outlook with a more specific direction.
Learning Portfolio Item 2 (Activity)
Visual examples that satisfy the design principle of Performance Load
1. Ergonomic Keyboard

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This is a keyboard for the novice computer user. It organises the keys by colour coding them into groups of vowel, numbers, etc.
2. Credit Card

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A credit card number is presented in groups, or chunks, of four, rather than a continuous sixteen digit number. This makes the number possible to remember in accordance to the theory of chunking.
3. Automatic gearbox interface

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An automatic gearbox removes the mental effort of having to remember the number and sequence of gears required to operate a motor vehicle.
REFERENCES
Gobet, F. (2001). Chunking mechanisms in human learning. Retrieved from http://www.brunel.ac.uk/~hsstffg/papers/Chunking-TICS.pdf
Malamed, C. (2014). Chunking Information for Instructional Design. Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/chunking-information/

Module 2: Consistency

Q1

Consistency
The Consistency principle says that systems are more useable and learnable when similar parts are expressed in similar ways. Consistency allows the learning of new concepts quickly by transferring the knowledge of previous concepts learned in a similar method. Consistency can be categorised in four parts: aesthetic, functional, internal and external.
“A consistent interface is one that follows rules, such as using the same operation to select all objects. For example, a consistent operation is using the same input action to highlight any graphical object at the interface, such as always clicking the left mouse button” (Preece and Rogers, 2002).

Aesthetic consistency implies a consistent application of style and appearance, promoting recognition and an emotional relationship on behalf of the viewer.
“Consistency is an important consideration in branding too – using the same typefaces, logos, colours, features, uniforms and architecture improves brand recognition, reduces costs and establishes a stronger relationship with customers” (Doctor Disruption 2013).
Functional consistency refers to the consistency of meaning and action. The use of functional consistency enables the viewer to apply pre existing knowledge in understanding how the design works. i.e. Apple Mackintosh computers use the traffic light icons within their operating system.
“Consistency in design is about making elements uniform — having them look and behave the same way…the designer is looking for a way to leverage the usability by creating uniformity” (Spool ,2005)
Internal consistently refers to consistency with other elements within a larger system. Consistency has already been established in the viewer and so new concepts within the system are now easier to comprehend. Good design implies internal consistency.
“As companies design more for usability and understanding, they will discover a competitive edge, for these principles save customers time and money while increasing morale”
External consistency refers to consistency across other systems in the broader environment. This is difficult to achieve due to the fact that different systems rarely subscribe to the same design language.
Q 2
An example of Aesthetic consistency:

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Coca-Cola have had maintained a strong brand image while being at the front rank of the market. This is due to a ubiquitous use of the colour red and its denotation of strength and vibrancy, as well an appealing logo. It is interesting to see here that Coke are establishing a consistency of image and aesthetics within their own product line. The homogenisation of aesthetics shared across the product range sends the message to consumers that they can expect the same standards in new products that are familiar in original Coke.
An example of Internal consistency:

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This jigsaw puzzle is an example of Internal consistency. Two pieces can be joined together in the same way as larger chunks which allows the user to progress through the puzzle.
An example of Functional Consistency:

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This control panel from a motor boat relies upon the users prior understanding that the dials are to read from left to right.
REFERENCES
Doctor Disruption. (2013). Principles of Design. Retrieved from http://www.doctordisruption.com/design/principles-of-design-52-consistency/
Norman, D. (1990). The Design of Everyday Things. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Preece, J., Rogers, Y., Sharp, H. (2002), Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction. New York: Wiley.
Spool, J. (2005). Consistency In Design. Retrieved from http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2005/09/15/consistency-in-design-is-the-wrong-approach/

Module 1: Aesthetic-Useablility

Q1

Aesthetic-Useability
The aesthetic-useability effect is a theory that suggests that if a product’s design demonstrates a strong sense of aesthetic appeal, is more likely to be used or adopted by consumers, independent of its functionality. As such, designs that are functional but do not possess aesthetic appeal are less likely to be used. A design’s aesthetic appeal is defined by its perceived ease of useability.
“Aesthetics is the science or philosophy concerned with the quality of human visual and aural experience and sensory-emotional values applied through judgments of sentiment and taste. It is a broad study area that includes both the aesthetics of nature and the aesthetics of human creations” (Williams, 2010)
Aesthetics are incorporated into broad infrastructure and play an important role in the way we function as a society: “Aesthetics is used to programme people, so that, through their own urges, they help promote the life of the organization” (Thyssen, 2011)
In the same way, albeit on a smaller scale, aesthetics are used in the design of products with a view to increasing their appeal or useability. “Aesthetics is the aspect of design and technology which most closely relates to art and design, and issues of colour, shape, texture, contrast, form, balance, cultural references and emotional response are common to both areas” (Digital Design & Technology, 2011).
Apple computers are a prime example of a company that has placed a high value on aesthetic appeal. Apple has employed the colour white, which is ubiquitous in their product line, due to its suggestion of peace and calm. This, along with a minimal interface of functions, has seen Apple computers enjoy a popularity among consumers in general, and a particular share of those who are novices in the market. In contrast, the typical appearance of a PC or laptop are dark grey surfaces that feature a myriad of functions and sub-functions, due to the powerful nature of the computer.
Bustillos (2011) points out that “The widespread admiration for Apple’s design ethos is in two parts: one functional, the other aesthetic. The functional aspects of Apple’s products can indeed be magical and thrilling. But the vibe of Apple’s product design is uniformly cool” (The Awl, 2011).

Q2
Examples of Aesthetic-Useability
1. The Retractable Pen

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The retractable pen performs its function, writing, in the same way as any other pen. Rather than using a cap over the nib, there is a button that produces and retracts the nib. Due to the impressive functionality of the ball point however, there is no need for either a cap or a retractable feature. The ball point featured in the nib will roll and quickly produce ink when called upon. The retractable feature remains a popular one due to its perceived functionality and ease of use. When held, the buttons’ proximity to the thumb makes it accessible and very quick to use.
2. The Reach Toothbrush

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The patented design of the Reach toothbrush has proved successful due to its perceived effectiveness of reaching the rear molars, which call for a different scrubbing angle than the front incisors. The Reach toothbrush seems to work in the same way as any other toothbrush, as the main function of cleaning the teeth is performed by the bristles. Cleaning ones teeth can be seen as a chore, so a perceived reduction of effort is appealing to the consumer. The Reach toothbrush fulfills the impression of enhanced useability through simple aesthetics by incorporating a kink into the handle. The model shown also features a gap in the fulcrum that further suggests that the brushing effort will be dissipated.
3. The Pump-Head Dispenser

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Pump-head dispensers are featured on almost every household product that contains a liquid substance. These containers are almost always produced alternately with a snap type cap or screw top. The popularity of the pump head is due to its aesthetic impression of instant action, ease of use, and an implied distancing of the user to the liquid itself (lack of mess). Regardless of the liquid content, the visual image of the pump calls for it to be depressed and used.

REFERENCES

Bustillos, M. (2011). Less Human than Human: The Design Philosophy of Apple. Retrieved from http://www.theawl.com/2011/11/apple-and-design

Digital Design and Technology. 2011. Product Design – Aesthetics. Retrieved from http://www.digitaldandt.org/index.php/electronics/design-develop-manufacture/product-design?start=1

Stephens, A. W. (2010). Improving the aesthetic and other experiential design aspects of bicycle paths in Western Australia. Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/874

Thyssen, O. (2011). Aesthetic Communication. New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan