Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Final Post

If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
--William Morris

1. What seminar readings, exercises, or assignments were most challenging, interesting, or rewarding for you? Why?
My favorite readings were from Norman's The Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design. They were easy to follow and a great base of knowledge for all the discussions we had afterward. "The Science of Shopping" and the chapter from City were my other favorite readings. They were especially effective because we had the opportunity to apply them to real life in our Retail Analysis presentations and our exploration of downtown Kalamazoo.
The Wikipedia paper was very interesting, but I'm still not really sure how it relates to design. I liked that we could really write about anything. I wish we had spent a bit of class time discussing what everyone had researched. I want to know if other people have stories behind the topic they chose.
The final presentation was the most difficult assignment. The size of the group meant a lot of ideas that often conflicted. It was also difficult to find an article for the class to read, a bit of direction would have been appreciated. Overall, I think our presentation turned out well.

2. What are the most important things you learned in this seminar?
Before this class I only knew a little bit about graphic design. I had no idea so many things had to be considered when designing a product, store or city. It is easy to infer basic principles about  visceral and behavioral design, but I never would have thought about reflective design. I am definitely a more informed consumer now.

3. How might you use this learning in the future?
Every time I buy something I will evaluate it using some of the criteria we discussed during class. I am thinking about a major in anthropology/sociology or psychology and I think this all applies to some extent. It is also just interesting information to know.

And with that, I'm done blogging.
So long.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"The Secret to Turning Consumers Green" Questions

1. What are the author's main points in the article?
Companies who want consumers to go green should use peer pressure, not just ethical reasoning.

2. Do you think you would be more affected by peer pressuring advertisements than advertisements promoting green?
Advertisements need to have a good balance. Peer pressure is definitely a good motivator and it shows consumers that they will not be the only person not participating. I'm not sure what would be worse, being the only person to participate or the only person to not participate.

3. Give a personal story of you buying a product because of its environmental design.
My mom and I recently bought environmentally friendly light bulbs to put in our kitchen. Part of it was because they are environmentally friendly but most of it was because it means we will not have to change the bulbs as often. Another thing that factored into it is that my grandparents recently put the same bulbs in their house.

4. Give specific examples of products becoming environment-friendly.
Household cleaning item recently started to come concentrated from some companies. You can use the same squirt bottle and just add water. This helps cut down on the amount of plastic used. Cars are also focusing on becoming more environmentally friendly with hybrids and electric cars and even normal cars focusing on having better gas milage.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Specialty clothing retailers this fall want to let shoppers know that they, too, are a brand" Questions

1. Select a quote from this article and explain how it relates to clothing advertising and brand identity.
''This campaign was designed to build top-of-mind awareness,'' said Catherine Sadler, the executive vice president of marketing at Ann Taylor. ''And to position us as accessible and relevant to our customers' lives.''
Brands want to always be hovering in consumers minds. When a woman thinks, "I need a new dress to wear to that party next week," brands want her next thought to be the name of their store. Too be more accessible, stores are advertising more everyday clothing items. Instead of a woman just thinking of their store for a dress she should also think of it when all she wants to buy is a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

2. What are some examples of clothing companies that have iconic advertisements? Include an image of one of  your examples and explain what it says about the brand. Who are they marketing to? What are they selling (both physically and reflectively)?
Anthropologie's advertisements are always beautiful photographs that look like art. This image plays into the idea that their target audience is imaginative and adventurous. The gauzy fabric and chandelier also give it a romantic feeling. There is only one person in the photo, she does not need other people with her to feel secure. The clothing items don't exactly match but they complement each other. This gives the idea that they could be paired with other items from the store to create more outfits. This is a store for people who dream outside the box and want their clothing to reflect that.

3. How has brand image influenced your decision to buy or not buy clothing? Do the clothes define the people, or do the people define the clothes?
Clothing is an important part of who people are. First impressions have a lot to do with what someone is wearing and how they carry themselves. In these moments, people are defined by their clothes but when you know someone better you see how their clothing is a reflection of their personality.
I tend to focus on individual clothing items I like instead of the brand that it comes from. That having been said, there are many stores  I will not go into because I don't think I will like anything based on how they brand their company. This includes stores like Hollister or Abercrombie and Fitch.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Cookie Cutter Housing: Wrong Mix for Subdivisions" Questions

1. What are the author's main points in this article?
Subdivisions are bland and not the best use of space. The developers and "The Ordinance" set up by committees are to blame for this. People need to voice their opinions and shake up the established order. I like his idea of placing houses closer together but staggering them so that windows on the sides of houses don't just look at another house. 

2. How do you feel about subdivisions after reading this article? Are they a positive addition to city layouts or is urban sprawl a negative phenomenon? Why do you feel this way?
I have never liked subdivisions, they are definitely a negative phenomenon of urban sprawl. The article just reenforced my opinion. Everything a subdivision accomplishes could be done in a more inviting way, with houses built in different eras for families of all different sizes. 

3. Do you live in or near a subdivision? What about the author's viewpoints are true or false, in your view (how is this article relevant to what you know?)
I live in a very small city, Huntington Woods, that mostly consists of a neighborhood. Most houses look different than the other ones on the block,we have many small parks and the irregular blocks are lined with trees. 
My House

My Neighbor to the Left

My Neighbor to the Right

An Unusual House a Few Streets Away

Another Nearby House

The Oldest House in the City

A few years ago a friend who lives in a subdivision came to visit me. He commented that he really liked my "subdivision" because all the houses looked different. 
I hate the idea of a row of houses that look exactly alike. Even when houses are different, subdivisions are either set up in rigid grids or are made up of a few streets that meander around and often double back to the same point. 
I agree that houses that look the same and are all in a row are not aesthetically pleasing. The chapter we read from City talked about a good city block having buildings of different heights and widths that are made up of different materials. This, along with different lot sizes, is what makes my city appealing. 
The other thing I hate about subdivisions is the lack of landmarks. I know how to get around Huntington Woods because I know some street names but mostly because I know where landmarks are in relation to each other. Most of these landmarks are interesting houses like the ones pictured above. In a subdivision where each street looks exactly like the next, I can't use these types of landmarks to get around.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"The Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015" Questions

1. How does this reading relate to the concept of user-focused design that we have discussed in class?
He stresses that the site needs to work for the user not for the designer. I especially like when he reorders the heading of one website to show how easy it would be to make it more user friendly. He really understands that frustrated users will leave a website to find a better one. he understands that users want things to load quickly and they want to be able to solve their problems quickly. Strangely, he doesn't care about doing this on his own site. I had a "problem", I had to read this article so I could write a blog and discuss it in class. He made it difficult. To fully understand his points, the reader has to watch videos and look at pictures. Most of the important pictures were in links that directed me to a different site and many of the videos just showed up as empty space.  In number 12 he provides a link to "website photos of two dentist." Only one picture shows up. This was very frustrating, I would have left the site if it wasn't an assigned reading. His last two points also made no sense to me. They are written in computer-gibberish with no helpful links to tell you what he is talking about. His bad website and "<big grins>" when he talks about how bad his site is make me not trust his opinion on what makes a good website.

2. What points do you feel are the most important?
His most useful idea can't even be summed up by reading his 12 main points. Oh wait, there were 16, thats how much of an impression they didn't make. Anyway, the most important idea is that a website should be designed for the people who will visit it, not the people creating it.

3. Create your own list of important design factors for a webpage.
Easy to use
Nice to look at
Accomplish its desired goal
User focused
Load quickly

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"The Future of Retail" Questions

1. Does Negroponte explicitly state his thesis? If so, identify it. If not, write your own thesis statement for his essay.
He doesn't explicitly state his thesis. He should say that retail is moving out of physical stores and onto the internet.

2. How does this reading relate to Norman's concepts of user-focused design?
Negroponte argues for Norman's idea that designs need to be user-focused. "Another kind of retail, however, is truly about to end - the type where you can't park, the checkout lines are interminable, the staff is disagreeable, and the product has always run out." There are a multitude of other places where consumers can shop, they don't need to be burdened with annoying stores. In some cases, consumers go out of their way to buy something at a local store. Store owners need to be aware of this and accommodate the shoppers more.

3. Negroponte published this in 1998; to what extent do his ideas remain relevant today?
It is even easier for people to purchase things online today than it was twelve years ago. The items that people buy are not quite the same ones that he talks about. People do buy books and clothing online but I have never heard of anyone in the Metro Detroit area buying groceries online. If mailboxes were going to change to large refrigerated boxes any time soon, you think we would have moved in this direction a bit already. I read that part of the article to a group of people and they all laughed, it seems absurd.

4. What predictions would you make about the Future of Retail?
I think retail will continue to exist in physical stores, for the most part. Book stores will probably cease to exist, especially with the introduction of so many e-readers. Malls and especially clothing and home goods store will continue to exist. Shopping is entertainment. People will continue to go shopping in stores as long as people continue to be bored. Lots of clothing shopping is done last minute when even one day shipping does not afford enough time. Clothing is also better when the consumer can try it on before purchasing it. Things like couches and chairs are also better when people can "try them on." I can't imagine buying a couch without sitting on it first. In regards to buying groceries online, I don't think it is practical. My family often buys food so we can go home right away and cook it. We don't always plan ahead far enough to tell a company when to send us certain food. We often walk into the grocery store not know what we will buy. I also can't imagine trusting a company to pick out fresh fruits and veggies for me. They want to sell all of their inventory so they might not give me the freshest produce. Overall, I think stores will continue to exist for a very long time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Downtown Kalamazoo Questions

1. Write a short evaluation of Downtown Kalamazoo's business area using specific examples from Friday's observations.
Downtown Kalamazoo is effective for people who live in the surrounding area including college students, but not so great for visitors. The Kalamazoo Mall is a very pleasant shopping area and is easy to find if one is walking, but it would be very easy to drive right past it. It is a one way street with parallel parking on both sides which is helpful for the elderly or parents with small children. The traffic is sparse enough that pedestrians can safely cross at any point. The brick sidewalks were clean except for a few scattered leaves, but that is to be expected at this time of year. There are many planters with trees and colorful flowers alongside benches and tables with umbrellas. If parking is not available on the street there are many parking garages near by. The Mall is not far from K College's campus or Western's and has many restaurants and a few shops that would interest a college student. Overall, the Mall feels safe and welcoming.
The area around the Rave movie theater, one block away, is very different. The Rave sits on a corner, across from Pfizer's animal genetics complex, the courthouse and a lone shoe store. There is a large parking garage next door that seems to service the Mall. The Rave feels isolated and can seems a bit scary. I would not want to go there at night without a large group of people.

2. Give at least three recommendations to improve the downtown.
Fewer one way streets that can confuse visitors
More trash cans and benches on the streets that are not part of the Mall
More police presence

3. Select a brief passage from the article about Robert Gibbs or the reading from City by William Whyte and relate it to Kalamazoo's Downtown. Use specific observations from Kalamazoo to illustrate the point.
Food and the eating of it is Lexington's major activity and most of it takes place right on the street. Many of the shops have open counters: the fruit juice and pizza places, for example; the soft ice cream shop, which for good measure pushes the freezer out onto the sidewalk in fair weather. Some food shops have folding fronts; when they are folded back it is hard to tell where the sidewalk ends and the shop begins, a distinctions further blurred when the proprietors put out tables and chairs. (City, 86)
A Friday afternoon in November certainly is not peak hours for the Mall but I could imagine this happening on a warm summer evening. The tables and chairs the city have provided are perfect for carrying out food and people watching while you eat.
The Bootery is the one store that I noticed had a blurred entryway. There is a large covered area that is technically outside the store. The rectangle is surrounded on three sides by windows that showcase the various styles of boots the store has to offer. Window shopping in this area feels like actual shopping because of the roof overhead. I expect that the store displays tables full of shoes out here on nice, busy days.