Johnson, J. (2014). Designing with the mind in mind: simple guide to understanding user interface design guidelines (2nd ed.). Boston: Elsevier.
This Chapter covers the design principles developed in the early 20th century by a group of German psychologists call the Gestalt principles. The core theory of the principles is that the part of our brain that is responsible for sight, also orders the world as shapes rather than disconnected lines and edges. The basic theory of this has been maintained in modern neurophysiology (Johnson, 2014, p. 13). Johnson describes the most important of Gestalt principles for UI design are the following; proximity; similarity; continuity; closure; symmetry; figure/ground; and common fate. Proximity is the relative distance between shapes which determines how we see them and organise them into groups, in his example Johnson uses the image bellow to where in we see the stars in rows or columns based on their proximity horizontally or vertically respectively.
Similarity is when objects appear to be visually similar or identical they seem to be grouped together, this can work to the detriment of proximity if one wishes to group to distinct objects multiple times, as is seen in Johnson’s example of Elsevier.com where the text is more grouped with the other text than the fields and vice versa. However proximity can also be used to prevent the grouping as seen in the Mac OS Print menu where the text and drop-down menus are visually linked to each other rather than there visual counterparts due to the separation between them.
Continuity is how our brains are able to infer and deduct how an obscured object continues despite being unable to see it as a whole, this is used rather often in visual illusions.In Johnson's example we connect the red lines together and same with the blue lines and surmise that they have been blocked by the white circle rather than all four having emerged separately from its edge.
Closure is closely tied with continuity as our brains try to close broken shapes so that they may be seen as a whole. Symmetry we try to break down complex shapes into combinations of multiple simple shapes. Figure/Ground is the visual break between the foreground and the background, uniquely this principle can also be determined visual as well as by the intent of the viewer. Similar to when in a conversation other noise in the environment can be called background noise, the foreground is determined by what information is more valuable to the viewer. Common Fate concerns moving objects where in objects moving in a similar way become visually linked.
History of Computers
Computer History Museum. (N/A). Timeline of Computer History. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from Computer History Museum: https://www.computerhistory.org/timeline/computers/
Levy, S. (2018, MAy 29). Graphical user interface. Retrieved October 24, 2019, from Encyclopædia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/technology/graphical-user-interface
Pottenger, W. M., Hemmendinger, D., & Others. (2019, January 30). Computer. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from Encyclopædia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/technology/computer/History-of-computing
Tan, D. S. (2014, June 12). Human-machine interface. Retrieved October 24, 2019, from Encyclopædia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/technology/human-machine-interface
Zimmermann, K. A. (2017, September 7). History of Computers: A Brief Timeline. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/20718-computer-history.html
The article on computer history by Zimmermann seems to be a rather Americentric perspective on computer history though her work does help to high light significant mile stones in the history of computing that I a searching for.
The Encyclopedia Britanica has articles on the Human-Machine interface, which is another term for user interface. It is the means by which humans and computers communicate with each other with hardware (mouse, keyboard ect.) and software (operating systems)
Katherine E. Olson, M. A. (2011). Diffusion of Technology: Frequency of Use for Younger and Older Adults. PubMed Central(36), 123-145. doi:10.1007/s12126-010-9077-9
“General Computer Use: We first asked the general question, “Have you had experience with computers?” (yes or no). Not surprisingly, there was a significant difference between younger and older adults; X2 (1, N=679) = 64.25, p < .05, whereby 99 percent of the younger adults responded “yes” compared to 80 percent of the older adults.”
This study asked for the participants to self-report the functions of a computer along with the peripherals and software that they use. This in contrast to the last study appears to be more robust and helpful in ascertaining information on this subject. The researchers concluded that the older subjects were not adverse to technology but instead slower to adopt the emerging technology that the younger subjects, in the exception of healthcare technologies where the older audience had more frequent use. (Katherine E. Olson, 2011)
Below are the graphs found in the study.
Revisiting the Digital Divide: Generational Differences in Technology Use in Everyday Life
Volkom, M. V., Stapley, J. C., & Amaturo, V. (2014). Revisiting the Digital Divide: Generational Differences in Technology Use in Everyday Life. North American Journal of Psychology, 557-574.
This study examines the sex and generational differences in the use of technology and the perceptions of technology of the 262 participants with an age range of 18 to 92.
“For example, fifty-five percent of adults access the Internet via their mobile phone and adults under 50 years old are just as likely to use mobile Internet access as teenagers (Madden, Lenhart, Duggan, Cortesi, & Gasser, 2013). Recent reports of the percentage of teens who own a tablet (25%) are almost the same for adults between 18-50 years old (23%). However, in general, older adults tend to express less interest in technology (e.g., computers), and use less variety of technology than younger adults, which affects how prevalent technology is for older users (Czaja et al., 2006). Younger users (18-28) of technology usually have more experience with various types of technology and functions of technology (Olson, O’Brien, Rogers, & Charness, 2011), such as experience with different computer parts and computer functions”
Upon further reading this study appears to be somewhat flawed in that the vast majority of it only sites other papers. Also, the age ranges used are very broad. Thought the referenced studies in this document appear to be more insightful. Also, there is no research primarily undertaken by this study of the age divide in the use of technology instead it relies on secondary sources.
Designing with the mind in mind: simple guide to understanding user interface design guidelines
Johnson, J. (2014). Designing with the mind in mind: simple guide to understanding user interface design guidelines (2nd ed.). Boston: Elsevier.
Chapter 1 – Our Perception is Bias
--Johnson begins this chapter by outlining the biasing factors of The Past (our experience); The Present (the current context); and The Future (our goals). He then proposes the Idea of perceptual priming where in we can be influenced giving the example of
“You are meeting with a real estate manager. Discussing plans for a new campus of company buildings. The campus consists of a row of five buildings, the last two with T-shaped courtyards providing light for the cafeteria and fitness center. If the real estate manager showed you the map in Figure 1.1, you would see five black shapes representing the buildings” (Jonson, 2014, p.1)
This context in the present primes the audience’s mind to see building shapes, however, if the image was primed as a billboard that reads “Life” then the white areas begin to clearly register as text. A similar scenario can occur with shapes known as pareidolia, since our brains have evolved to be able to recognise human faces, we sometimes see them in places where none exist, for instance in 1976 the Viking 1, prior to landing on Mars took Images from orbit. One of which (shown below on the left) became known as the as the “Face on Mars”, however in 2001 NASA concluded the primary mission of Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) project which captured a higher resolution image of the area, showing the face to have been an optical illusion brought on by circumstantial lighting.
--We are also influenced by familiar patterns; our past experience of these patterns influences our behaviours when we are experiencing a similar scenario. An example provided by Johnson is the following image, this shows an example within UI design were user’s past experience makes them take for granted the location of the “Next” button.
--Johnson describes habitation as another influence on our perceptions where in recurring exposure to the same perceptions reduces our sensitivity to them. He states that this occurs on a neural level where our minds begin to ignore repetitious elements of the world.
“We experience habituation in computer usage when the same error messages or “Are you sure?” confirmation messages appear again and again. People initially notice them and perhaps respond, but eventually click them closed reflexively without bothering to read them.” (Johnson, 2014, p. 5)
By this fact using reedition can be beneficial to the user in addition to being disadvantageous in other situations. The reflexive knowledge of the UI assists in navigation of consistent menu elements, however notifications placed in the same location and used too frequently would cease to be notifying.
--Attentional blink is a phenomenon referenced by Johnson where recognition of a stimuli with multiple stimuli quickly succeeding each other impedes our ability to recognise the next set of stimuli.
“For a very brief period following the recognition— between 0.15 and 0.45 second— we are nearly deaf and blind to other visual stimuli, even though our ears and eyes stay functional.” (Johnson, 2014, p. 5)
A good example may be the Marvel logo stings that play in the Disney Marvel Movies.
--In explaining how perception is bias, Johnson discusses how it is influenced by current context. To example this he uses optical illusions to demonstrate how what we understand of what we see is predicated on its surroundings especially when the image is obscured in some manner, for this he uses the Muller-Lyer illusion (figure 1.6) when two lines of equal length appear to be different lengths due to the fins or arrows at the end.
--However, this example only demonstrated bias from a visual context, however perceptual bias can occur across the senses with each sense potential biasing the others. Johnson quotes the McGurk Effect wherein a video of someone saying “bah, bah, bah” then “dah, dah, dah”, then “vah, vah, vah” the viewer will hear the syllable indicated by the speaker’s lip movements rather than the audio. This is similar how in ventriloquism we are tricked that the dummy is speaking. (Johnson, 2014). Furthermore, we have our perception biased by our goals biased by our goals. The goals specified by Johnson are
“Guide our perceptual apparatus, so we sample what we need from the world around us. Filter our perceptions: things unrelated to our goals tend to be filtered out preconsciously, never registering in our conscious minds.
For example, when people navigate through software or a Web site, seeking information or a specific function, they don’t read carefully. They scan screens quickly and superficially for items that seem related to their goal. They don’t simply ignore items unrelated to their goals; they often don’t even notice them.” (Johnson, 2014, p. 9)
Johnson is saying that users will seek solely for the object of their query and become perceptually blind to any unrelated result. He states that this behaviour is influenced by age as adults become more goal oriented where as children are less goal orientated than adults making them more likely to observe more but be more easily distracted. (Johnson, 2014)
In order to avoid perception bias, he proposes three solutions.
An art and philosophical movement of the 19th and 20th centuries that valued rationalism and scientific/industrial culture.
An intellectual movement succeeding modernism, often question or outright rejecting values of modernism.
The idea that post modernism diametrically rejects modernist values and ideas.
The emphasis on the value of new technology like modernism but being very much focused on individuality.
A movement in art and criticism concerned with the impact of the Internet on art and cultured – this is often done within a post-modernist framework.
An overarching narrative about narrative of historical, experiential or mythological meaning, that legitimises individuals into the narrative. Providing a unified identity to groups of individuals.
A personal take on culture.
To reroute or hijack.
An economic theory focused around mass production and mass consumption.
Rejection of rationalism, truths, certainties, doctrines and unstable belief systems – i.e. there is no universal truth or philosophy.
Criticizing or attacking cherished beliefs or institutions.
The practise or principle of basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than religious belief of emotional response.
On “Postmodernism and Philosophy” by Stuart Sim
Sim identifies postmodernism mainly by its rejection of the “grand narratives” of western culture. The universal theories it produces, are no longer worth engaging with since they have now lost credibility. This is due to the scepticism of postmodernism which undermines other philosophical theories and is in effect “anti-foundational”. He identifies Friedrich Nietzsche as a philosophical inspiration to the movement with his “call for ‘revaluation of all values’”. This scepticism is coupled with an anti-foundational bias and a reflexive dislike of authority, in Sims writing.
He then goes onto describe different facets of postmodernism, such as poststructuralism. Poststructuralism is a change in understanding across numerous intellectual fields, Sims goes on to discuss its presence in science, feminism, semiotics, politics, psychoanalyse, Marxism and philosophy. Poststructuralism calls into question cultural certainties which structuralism up held mainly the belief that the world is fully knowable through the use of systems.
Semiotics under the poststructuralism is criticised for the overall tidiness and the in ability to account the instability of language. Sims uses Jacques Derrida’s to elaborate on the topic of semiotics, wherein he poses his concept of différance. In this he suggests that the meaning of words have “slippage”, with words gaining alternate meanings and association over time because they are “containing echoes and traces of other words, with their sound quality, for example”. Derrida’s concept is emphasized more as an identification of a feature already present in language than a theory, reportedly expressing a fondness for this feature as it allows for pun and word-play.
It is a minority culture that exists within a mainstream culture but deviates from mainstream culture often rejecting or actively rebelling against it's cultural norms and myths.
The internet allowed for the merging and meetings of distant subculture and cultures, in fact it would be more accurate to refer to the internet as having its own culture with infinite subcultures of its own. As each subculture has the benefit of being able to hyperspecialize into one field/topic, however a single person who engages with the internet is likely to be in numerous of these subcultures at any given time – be they lurking (present on a forum but not interacting with other users) or engaging with the subculture. Jakub Macek in his 2005 essay attempts to define cyberculture, in which he defines the following cultural narrative themes of cyberculture.
Internet cultures can be spurred into action however, for instance on April 1st 2017 the website Reddit gave its users a blank canvas of 1000 square pixels and 72 hours to draw on the canvas, but one user could only draw on the canvas every few minutes. This limitation forced groups to work in collaboration to draw what they wanted and then to defend it from other groups/users. Ultimately three major factions emerged Creators, Protectors and Destroyers.
Creators – wanting to make evermore complex marks on the canvas
Protectors – Wanting to preserve their favoured marks
Destroyers – A group that wanted to paint the hole canvas black
The project itself appears to be a reference to the 2005 million-dollar homepage. Due to dimensions and similarity of the chaotic end result.
The Graphic code of Comic Strips
On Scott McCloud's Closure and Transition
In this section, McCloud discusses what closure in comic books is and how it is used. Closure is the space between panels in which the readers mind can freely associate how one panel leads to another. This can be filling in the gaps in a walking cycle or the death of a character. The gutter is a space of infinite possibilities, that utilises the audience's imagination to conclude or connect panels.
McCloud supposes that the amount of closure required of the readers imagination is dependent on the type of transition between panels. He then goes on to define six transition types (these are listed in the Lecture Notes under "the potency of negative space").
Art Spiegelman and Maus
Spiegelman was born in 1948 in Stockholm, Sweden and immigrated with his parents to the USA in 1951. He began drawing cartoons in 1960 imitating the style he found in the comic books he owned. He studied art and philosophy at Harpur College. He began work on Maus, his most well-known work, in 1972 as a three-page strip for the first issue of “Funny Animals” he wanted to do the strip about racism choosing to write about the Holocaust that his parents had survived. His parents were Polish Jews, and both were imprisoned in Auschwitz, Maus drew from his father’s recollections of the Holocaust.
From 1980 Maus, was printed one chapter at a time as in insert in Raw (a magazine that Spiegelman co-edited). By 1986 Spiegelman published the first six chapters with Pantheon, the book found a large audience and was released in book stores rather than comic book stores, which were then main outlet for comics in the 1980’s.
The panel transitions used in Maus
For additional content on the page design of Maus, I would implore you to watch the following Nerdwriter1 video essay, which focuses on the design of page 12 above. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dQEfL2BfUM
On "Rhetoric of the Image" by Roland Barthes, and analysis of Panzini ad.
Magazine Advert Analysis
Textually the eye is first drawn to 1 but also to 3 which shares similar weight on the page, the pull between these two elements has almost a downward pull towards 1. The text “Redefining liveaboard diving” firstly supposes that that the audience has an understand on liveaboard diving, secondly give the implication that the service will be above that of other companies. 3 is signifier of the tale of a whale, which provides a signified of a whole whale – an animal known as on the of the deepest diving mammal understood to science this knowledge of whales provides the sign of extreme deep diving, to a depth that is almost fantastical. 3 is the key sign of the advert both it and the anchorage at 1 work as a duel message, the text and image suggesting that this company provides a diving experience that will take the consumer deeper and further than any other in new ways.
2 is a somewhat subtle snap back to reality as it defines a definite depth and passenger size.
Interesting the motion of the tale creates an upwards verticality to the rest of the piece, indicated by 4. If one allowed their imagination to continue the movement the tail would move over the text at the top of the page.
The advert has very much an very minimal pallet as shown in 5 it is near a duotone with only the image pushing it to at most a tritone, the predominate dark tone serves to highlight the white text.
On the “The Treachery of Images”, 1929 by Reni Magritte
"The Treachery of Images" is a surrealist art work by the artist Reni Magritte. The image depicts a painting of a smoking pipe, notable a pipe which is in appearance well-crafted and can easily be associated with upper-middle to upper class individuals at the time period that the. Under the Image is the anchorage in the langue French “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”, which translated to English reads “This is not a pipe.”. The piece presents a photo realistic image of a pipe, Magritte often used a level of photo realism in his surrealism paintings which seems to be for the purpose of proving a more relatable basis from which he can abstract, as a result his work often has dreamlike qualities. However, this does not appear to be entirely the function of photo realism in The Treachery of Images, the realism of the pipe is for more deceptive purposes, the image so closely resembles a physical pipe that it will be more likely to register as a physical pipe in the audience’s mind. The signifier has been constructed to be as indistinguishable as possible from the signified. From this the caption/anchorage acts in an intersecting manner but works to counter the information provided by the image, as it disillusions the audience in reminding them that the image is merely a signifier of a real pipe. By reminding the viewer that the only true version of a signified is the signified, where as a signifier and a sign are illusions to the signified.
One can also interpret the painting as a reference to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, where in the image and the noun of the pipe are the shadows on the wall and the viewers are the prisoners in the cave. When the prisoners are spectating the shadows, they don’t see the real objects from which the objects are cast — they see only the signifiers made for the signified. The prisoners in the cave think the shadows to be the true object until they see the true object, then the shadow is nothing more than a symbol of the object. The perceptual experience of an object’s shadow is wholly different to the concept of the object which that shadow creates.
The following is a video essay on the painting by Nerdwriter1 may also be of interest I’d recommend watching the video for more context and viewpoints.
On "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud
The aim of McCloud's comic is to elaborate and provide examples of the uses of anchorage, the paring of text and image.
In this anchorage the words are used to provide the context where as image is used to illustrate the text
In this anchorage the image provides context while the text is used for flavour, the example given is to provide a soundtrack through the use of onomatopoeia.
In this anchorage the images and words tell the exact same message, think like a young child's story book.
In this anchorage the images and words work together to increase the impact of, or elaborate on the other.
In this anchorage the image and words are disjointed from each other, following different paths of narrative. This appears in narration or monologuing.
In this anchorage the words are treated as part of an image.
In this anchorage the meanings of the words and image are used to created a third meaning, which one could not display alone.
McCloud then discusses what happen when either words or image are the carrier of weight of clarity. When it is the images that carry the weight the images become more literal, but then words can be used for; monologue; advertisement; incongruous; or broader topics. Contrastingly when words carry the weight of clarity the image can; show fragments of a scene; abstraction/expressionism; emotional information; or to depict a shift in time.
"The mixing of words and pictures is more alchemy than science."- Scott McCloud
Design In Context
Daniel Thomas Coates, graphic designer based in the UK. Currently a student at the University of Cumbria, Carlisle.