Page 4

Part 1: Critical reading/summary of ‘Persuasive technology’ page 122-171.

The chapter provides a few tips on how credibility works both conceptually and in practice. It notes that things like a more ‘personalized approach’ help make people believe something is credible. It also mentions trust, stating that the best way for a site to appear credible is to appear inviting and trustworthy. Being well presented and also having a good reputation and of course by carrying a level of expertise.

In addition, it goes on to talk not just about the fundamentals that make up credibility but also why it is important for any business, including websites to be credible.  Adding to this is Aaron Wall (2010) who writes:

“Rankings without trust have little value. It is hard to sell to somebody unless they trust you.”(Wall 2010)

It is fundamental to business to be credible and especially on the internet where information and almost all kinds of consumer services can be found a website needs credibility if it wants to stand on its own two feet and not accidentally be dismissed as false information. This is obviously also important for the consumer, Virginia Montecino offers a few helpful hints on how to spot a credible website, despite being old the advise holds up:

“Is there any evidence that the author of the Web information has some authority in the field about which she or he is providing information? What are the author’s qualifications, credentials and connections to the subject? ” (Monecino, Virginia 1998)

Interestingly, according to Jennifer Greer (2006) website information may actually start to be considered more credible than the traditional media, as she writes:

“The credibility of online information is of particular interest to traditional mass media outlets, which have seen their credibility decline since the mid 1980’s. More than 20% of the public now say they do not believe much or all of the news reported by national news media.” (Jennifer Greer, 2006 Mass communication & Society page 12)

Part 2: Why is Wikipedia not an accepted source for information?

Shelley E. Phipps and Krisellen Maloney write on page 103 of ‘Libraries and Google’:

“Libraries have identified themselves have identified themselves as gateways to information. Google, and other internet search tools, have changed the need and importance of the gatekeeper role in Libraries.” (Phipps and Maloney 2005)

The message being that although information seeking through google, and by extension Wikipedia, have changed things, the use of books and libraries should still be given value. For one thing referencing books shows a lot more dedication than a link to a wikipedia page.

More importantly though, Wikipedia is unreliable as a complete source because it’s a free online encyclopaedia that anyone at any time can edit and alter and change. In theory it makes sense that it would have a set up like this; because new information is constantly being found about various topics and so Wikipedia being able to constantly receive new information is rather practical.

However the immediate downside to this is that anyone at any time can contribute to Wikipedia. There is no cost to sign on and no test of expertise or authority on any given topic that someone has to pass to edit a Wikipedia page, so pages can and do frequently get edited by people unqualified to do so. In addition Wikipedia is a very big site with millions of bits of information added and subtracted every day, making it impossible to truly moderate false information from coming through.

This is the reason why people are urged to double check every piece of information they find on Wikipedia, because unlike official websites and books, no authority or expertise or trust is required when it comes to the publishing of information on Wikipedia. Hence it is advised not to rely on it’s sources.

Q1) In dot points, in your own words, list anticipated issues that may affect the users’ perceived Web credibility in future (200 words).

  • Aesthetics and presentation are often used as an example of a credible website over a non credible one, with people being more likely to rely on things well presented. In the future it is possible that everyone will be able to make great aesthetics for websites, so the credibility that comes from professional presentation will be lost.
  • Wikipedia, despite the issues mentioned above, remains the popular choice for information because of its ever increasing flow of information. This could result in static websites that never change or update information on events no longer being considered ‘credible’.
  • In the age of blogs and arguments people’s personal opinions on matters, especially if they can present them reasonably well, tend to get a great amount of representation. Videos on youtube where a guy shouts for five minutes about this or that issue are now used more often in online arguments than actual hard facts. As though ‘entertaining to read/listen to’ is now more important than dry readings of the facts.
  • Right now there are so many different versions of the same websites that determining which is most credible almost comes down to a coin toss. Diversity makes credibly checking difficult.

Q3) find a snapshot of a website that represents each type of credibility and then explain why they are credible.

1: Presumed credibility

The World Wildlife fund is a good example of presumed credibility, without even doing any reading on it the way it looks and the way it is presented carries a very professional feel. It also helps that the WWF’s brand and logo can be seen all over the place in the real world, outside the internet. When you see brands and official movements mentioned in the paper, it’s pretty easy to presume that this is a credible source of information regarding animal rights.

URL: http://www.wwf.org/ (Retrieved May 23 2012)

2: Reputed

The Escapist has been credited in PC magazine and sources as one of the best sources for video game related news on the internet. It has received several ‘webby’ awards and it continues to draw in larger crowds every passing year. It also hosts events like ‘March Mayhem’ where they get sixty four game developers together and have people vote for their favorites, ultimately naming the winner as ‘developer of the year’. With all the acclaim bestowed on it, it’s fair to say that it has a lot of reputation that helps add to a feeling of credibility.

URL: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/ (Retrieved May 23 2012)

3: Surface

Feminist Frequency is a blog run by a single individual who had some additional help putting it all together. The stated goal being to analyze womens representation in media and the popular culture. It has a very professional layout, carefully constructed and well put together and the author’s thesis on strong female icons as well as some of the activities and events she’s attended give it a feeling of expertise in the subject. It is very well presented and also very well written, and both in the written sections and the videos is presented in a very calm intellectually detached way.

URL: http://www.feministfrequency.com/  (Retrieved May 23 2012)

4: Earned

Ebay Australia has proven very reliable when it comes to making purchases and very truthful to the content of those purchases, despite other websites that encourage people to give their credit card information Ebay can be relied on at least to not try to steal credit information and with the rating system you can tell which sellers on Ebay are the best and can be trusted based on their reputation given by buyers, making it less likely that you will be ripped off.

URL: http://www.ebay.com.au/ (Retrieved May 23 2012)

 

References:

Greer Jennifer (2009) Mass communication and society: Evaluating the credibility of online information: A test of source and advertising influence. Mortimer house, 37-41 Mortimer street London. Routledge (2009)

Montecino, Virginia (1999) Criteria to evaluate the credibility of WWW resources. Retrieved May 22, 2012 from:http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm

Phipps Shelley E. & Maloney Krisellen (2005) Libraries and Google: Page 103. Alice Street, Birminham NY USA. Haworth Information Press.

Wall, Aaron (2010) Website credibility. Retrieved May 20, 2012 from:http://training.seobook.com/website-credibility



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Page 3

Q1) Critical reading and summary of ‘Performance load’.

Performance load in programming is simply the amount of input, physical and mental, that a person going about a task needs to do for it to work. Physical (Kinematic) can be things like pushing buttons, plugging things together and putting pieces together. Mental (Cognitive) meanwhile can mean things the person needs to learn, remember and concentrate on to get it to work.

To paraphrase the e-book ‘Cognitive load theory’ ‘the basic human primary skills are something everyone has, but truly great design shouldn’t rely on us expending this basic skills’ (paraphrased, Sweller n.d Pg 7 2011)

The article notes that in the early days of computers, cognitive reasoning was a lot more prominent because the programs were so simple that the user had remember things like commands, codes and sequences and then type them in. Whereas now we rely on things like menus because most of the technical stuff is done for us.

As Rodrigo de Oliveira and Heloisa Da Rocha in ‘Consistency on Multi device design’ (2007) point out, designs should be simple and consistant in order to reduce the level of mental stress involved in the execution of a task. They call this the ‘task perception priority’, implying that people will sometimes percieve the difficulty of the task by how it’s presented and therefore simple easy to follow design makes people more likely to perform the tasks the design is made for. (paraphrased)

The article and book maks a stance that good design means you shouldn’t have to make your users do much in the way of performance load. That it’s easier and more convenient to use something where most of the system is laid out for you. It’s a fair argument to make, it shouldn’t be up to the users to do a lot of the technical stuff and if only for the sake of  business it’s a good idea to be as user friendly as possible because as discussed before people are more likely to buy and use user friendly products and services.

Q2) About Chunking

George A. Miller came up with the concept of ‘chunk’ in 1956. His theory was that human memory was limited in how much storage capacity it had, that rather than absorb all information at once, our minds instead store seven ‘chunks’ of information. Exactly how many chunks a person may absorb at any one time however remains uncertain.

He also noted that if a person’s memory is full than excess memory will simply disappear and that therefore it made more sense to learn information through individual chunks that eventually lead up to the whole rather than have the entire lesson plan forced on you in one sitting.

For that reason he theorized and it later became the popular theory among teachers and ‘elearners’ that chunking is the best way of getting information to come across. The site I just linked gives a few suggestions on how to teach people using the chunk principle, the main idea seems to be to not give all information at once but rather hand out small bits of information at a time to let people absorb that before moving on. As author Connie Malamed says herself:

“It means that if you are explaining something complex and the learner must hold several factors in mind to understand it, you’ll need to chunk information into bite-sized pieces.” (Connie Malamed 2009)

Modules, as the piece called them, are described almost as classes within classes where learning how to use a certain feature is made into a whole lesson rather than just part of a lesson. This is not unlike the classes at Edith Cowan University where every day it’s only about learning specific parts that add up to collective whole.

Q3) Psychology in design

Why is human psychology essential for design principles? Because everything about the human experience of sight and sound and touch is in some way or another grounded in psychology as Wes Towers 2010 writes:

“Understanding the psychological aspect of design principles such as colour, shape and font is the missing ingredient many businesses don’t use to its full capacity.” (Towers, Wes 2010)

However truly it is wrong to say that psychology is essential for design, psychology is design. Images and symbols and shapes were made with the conscious mind and they were made for audiences that also have conscious minds. We create and imagine things that potential users will like or be able to use based on our own psychological viewpoints and bias’s.  We need to constantly evaluate and learn what we can about how people think and by extension how we think when designing things for other people. Everything in the world that was designed exists because someone made the conscious decision to make it like that. A machine can’t do this, humans can.

Q4) Three examples of performance load:

Example one, video game controllers:

Controllers for video game consoles are a very good example of the reduction of performance load. Whereas video games on computers may be buried under mountains of controls and buttons and features, Xbox and Playstation controllers reduce the number of button pushing and the number of things the user needs to remember drastically. With only eight buttons, two joysticks and a ‘dpad’ it’s a lot easier to figure out and requires less kinematic and cognitive load on the person using it.

Example two: Manual cars.

Manual cars require a little bit more kinematic load on the person using them than an automatic car. A lot of people actually do not use them for this exact situation, even though some may handle better than an automatic, an automatic is just simpler and easier to use.

Example 3: Remote controls

Prior to the invention of the remote control, people had to move all the way over to the TV or VCR and hit every button manually. While a small thing, the remote control became a much more popular alternative. Being able to stay seated while controlling the television was an appreciated benefit and now remote controls are the standard for all television and media players. To the point where even though the manual buttons still exist, people will still look all over the room to find the remote because it requires less button pushing.

 

References:

De Oliveira Rodrigo and Vieira da Rocha Heloisa (2007) Consistency on multi-device design part 2. C. Baranauskas et al, Campinas Brazil (2007).

Malamed, Connie (September 24 2009): Chunking information for industrial design. Retrieved May 14 2012 from: http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/chunking-information/

Sweller, John; Ayres, Paul;  Kalyuga, Slava(2011 pg 7) Cognitive load theory. Retrieved 17 May 2012 from:http://reader.eblib.com.au/(S(huhwv2svjhunmloq30pebw4b))/Reader.aspx?p=763221&o=74&u=F17E0D474F&t=1337256058&h=65D62B5EE82

Towers, West (October 20 2010): The psychology of design. Retrieved May 15 2012 from: http://www.omnificdesign.com.au/melbourne-marketing-design/the-psychology-of-graphic-design

Images:

In video game controllers [Digital image] Retrieved May 14 2012 from: http://www.xbox.com/en-au/Xbox360/Accessories/Controllers/Home

In manual cars [Digital image] Retrieved May 14 2012 from: http://emonell.blogspot.com.au/2010/04/what-things-man-should-know-how-to-do.html

In remote controls [Digital image} Retrieved May 14, 2012 from: http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/series.php?SID=7&Title=Remotes

Page 2

Part 1: Summary and critical reading of ‘Consistency’.

Consistency, as the article says, -“enables people to efficiently transfer knowledge to new contexts, learn new things quickly, and focus attention on the relevant aspects of a task.” (reference here)

The article notes that there are four kinds of consistency, aesthetic, functional, internal and external.

It should go without saying that brands and logos are not only a big help but also essential to many corporations. There are usually a set of conventions for making and establishing a memorable brand. In the book ‘Challenging the big brands’ by Judith Evans and Cheryl Dangel Cullen, the authors make careful note of the colours used in the FedEx brand delivery service, noting:

“The Company selected its current FedEx logo from the five designs that landor presented. It is a bold design, using the company’s trademark colors, purple and orange. The colors were tweaked slightly for a more electric orange and stronger purple to reflect a more modern and dynamic society.” (Evans and Cullen 2003 Page 12)

Fed Ex did not change the core basics of their brand but instead just made the colours stand out more to reflect change. You will find that most brands are similar, their marketing may have changed but the core logo remains the same and the tweaks made to it are often very minor.

However while many people will tell you that brand consistency is everything, these days it seems like making clever logos isn’t quite enough, as Martin Lindstrom (2011) writes:

“- Whether it’s a soda can, a car, a doll, a fragrance, a smartphone, or laptop, your brand needs to be smashable, e.g., instantly identifiable via its shape, design, copy, contours, and even navigation. Aside from adolescents, who are always on the lookout for the coolest logos to set them apart from, or help them gain traction with, their peers, today for most consumers the logo comes in near-to-last place to other considerations.” (Lindstrom Martin 2011 Paraphrased)

In essence he suggests what was discussed in Learning Portfolio page one, the value of aesthetics. That a product that has its own unique look and feel is actually becoming more important than the branding of said product. An example of this has to be the work done by Apple. Brands are still important but aesthetics and visual design appears to be the new driving force for consistency.

This can work for things other than brands. Websites, for example often need to be consistent with how they convey information. As Gerry Gaffney on Search point put it:

“Sites should be internally consistent: standards and conventions should be established and applied throughout all the content. For example, a user who encounters the “Search” at the top right on one page will have problems if it’s arbitrarily moved to different locations on other pages of the site.” (Gaffney Gerry 2005)

Consistency effects usability, so not only is consistency a good idea from a business standpoint but even from a usability standpoint it’s still generally advisable.

That said, innovation is what truly moves companies forward and while holding onto the basics of what makes it work is a good idea in and of itself, it appears this can also be a problem, companies tend to play it safe. G. Michael Maddock in Brand New describes this phenomenon as ‘the Innovation paradox’:

“-Companies know introducing new products and services successfully is something they need to do in order to secure a healthy future. And yet they readily concede that they are not devoting sufficient resources to make it happen.” (G. Michael Maddock 2011)

Three examples of consistency:

1: Halo logo

While Some of the designs have changed over the years, the core foundation of the Halo logo has remained the same ever since 2001. The way the letters have looked and the original ring pattern of the title have remained consistent even when the rest of the design can change so drastically.

Halo’s logo really is an interesting example because even though the logo itself never looks exactly the same, game to game, the ‘feel’ of the logo remains and is on par with the general ‘feel’ of the entire franchise in the process. The dark background and the steel science fiction letters and the light blue color tint on everything remains consistent for over a decade now.

2: Google logo

Ever since the website first came up, this carefully color co-ordinated logo has been consistently the image people think of when they think of google. While google’s success has to come from the fact that it is a very well run search engine there is no denying that the consistency of it’s simply designed logo helped a bit. Google remains to this day the ‘default’ search engine and a very recognizable logo and brand have certainly helped with that.

Example 3: Coca Cola

Now here we go, truly a success story and a sign of how marketing and consistency can win out, the basic letter design of the Coca Cola logo has remained unchanged for over one hundred years. While some of the ways it has been marketed and presented may have changed, the logo itself has remained consistent in all that time and it has become the best selling cola in the world.

In fact the one time people tried to market coke in a different way and break the consistency that coke has built up all that time, did not go over so well.
By changing the tast and by extention the brand of Coca Cola, the sales plummeted and ‘New Coke’ was replaced by ‘Coke Classic’ which brought sales right back up. It was the same drink but back to the same advertisement and branding that it had always been up to that point.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

References:

Evans, Judith And  Dangel Cullen, Cheryl (2003) Challenging the big brands. Gloucestor Massachusetts USA: Rockport publishers Inc.

Gaffney, Gerry (2005) Why consistency is critical. (Feburary 25 2005) Site point. Retrieved May 6 from:http://www.sitepoint.com/why-consistency-is-critical/

Lindstrom, Martin (2011) How to build an unforgettable ‘smashing’ brand, I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the logo: (11 April 2011) Retrieved May 6 2012 from:http://www.fastcompany.com/1745884/how-to-build-an-unforgettable-smashable-brand-identity-hint-its-not-the-logo

Maddock, G. Michael Luisa C. Uriarte (2011)Brand New. Hoboken, New Jersey (USA): John Wiley & sons inc.

Images:

In Halo logo [Digital image] Retrieved May 2 2012 from:http://anrecreationagamerscritiquee.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/my-latest-obsession/

In Google [Digital image] Retrieved May 7 2012 from:http://www.discoverme.com.au/News/Google-Instant.aspx

In Coca Cola logo [Digital image] retrieved May 7 2012 from:http://www.fuelyourcreativity.com/coca-cola-a-bottle-can-be-iconic/

Page 1

Q1: Summary and critical reading of: AESTHETIC USABILITY EFFECT

The argument in this ‘aesthetics and usability’ discussion is that usability and how things look and how they are presented are inherently linked that people will ultimately learn to use the product better if it looks nice. It is worth noting that the piece says that aesthetics make people perceive things as easier to use, it doesn’t actually mean they are, but however as Mark Boulton (2006) writes:

Good usability is inherent in good design because people think well designed things work better, whether they do or not. Focus on good design and you will make the product more usable by default, you will also give it a competitive edge. The MD will thank you… eventually! (Mark Boulton 2006)

As far as the value of aesthetics goes, Boulton makes it a clear point that people will perceive something as easy to use if it is presented well and used the examples of two cars (the Skoda and Audi) as an example of how aesthetics sell better too.  This love of aesthetics can be applied to web services as well, to quote Balanced Web design chapter 4:

“When people required beautiful and pleasing websites, the aesthetic value of these sites became important and noticeable.” (D. Lawrence & S Tavakol 2007)

But still it’s well known that aesthetics matter in the world of advertising. The more pressing issue Boulton presents is the last line about how people would perceive things with nicer aesthetics as more usable and therefore anything with good aesthetics would be usable by default.

But then, many nice looking websites end up being hard to use. As was written in a piece I found on webcredible:

A product’s design can ensure the initial attraction but only usability and aesthetics working in combination will ensure consumers will keep using it. (Trenton Moss 2012)

The article itself suggested that aesthetics and usability go hand in hand but are not the same.

In chapter 4 (page 83) of Usability in practiseUser design at Apple Computer’  there is a passage that suggests that communication between users is still the best thing for usability and suggests Apple’s success is based on it.

“- In short, Apple’s ‘user-centred’ attitude made it easy to establish a usability program.” (Gomoll and Wong 1994 paraphrased)

Aesthetics matter, good looking products and services help a great deal in enticing people to buy them both because they look so nice and because it helps create the illusion of usability. But still no amount of good looks can compare to good old fashioned communication.

Q2: Three examples of aesthetic usability effect:

Example 1:

As mentioned before the Xbox 360’s marketing put a lot of effort into emphasizing looks and aesthetics, one thing worth noting is that while it talks about being ‘next generation’ a lot of the things featured in their marketing (with the exception of the wireless controller which since became standard for all consoles) are features that already existed, in some form or another, prior to this machine’s creation. The mention of the ‘worldwide community’ in particular, this feature already existed on Microsoft’s original Xbox and games haven’t changed much apart from looking better.

The white colors felt more casual to a primary audience, whereas the competitors, the Nintendo Wii and the PS3, aimed to different markets. The PS3 was big and large and heavy looking and was clearly aimed at a more ‘hardcore’ audience with its sleek black presentation and sheer size, the marketing and presentation was a lot more intense and aggressive whereas the calming white and green of the Xbox 360 seemed to resonate better with a more casual audience. The controllers looked a lot more simple with color co-ordinated buttons and in general it just felt like an easier machine to work with.

Both consoles were essentially the same, they worked the same and had most of the same games but it seems like it all came down to presentation. The Xbox 360 was white and everything about it appeared a lot more simple and easier to understand just thanks to its aesthetics so even though the PS3 was actually the more powerful system, the Xbox 360 sold better to a much broader audience. Using white instead of black and emphasising the features and not the technical details helped make new audiences feel more inclined to go for the Xbox over the PS3.

Example 2:

The iphone. Originally a cutting edge innovator, they are now the standard by which all phones are judged and like before, despite them being an inherently complicated machine, the iphone was marketed and presented with utter simplicity.

The minimal amount of text on the ad and the big colorful visual aides on the touch screen and the way everything is neatly organized helps keep people on track and it means that usually every person in the world knows how to manage them. Although it is true that the iphone’s simplicity is partly due to its ingenious design, it is worth noting that the presence of the Apple Genius bars all over major cities imply that not everyone can figure it out.

Nevertheless, this is an example of where the aesthetic design (it was clearly made to be sleek and stylish) actually directly ads to the simplicity and ease of use because a lack of clutter or word heavy data means that it is easier for a person to pick it up and use it.

Example 3:

In essence all cars are the same, at least in terms of function. You use a car to drive from point A to point B and all points in between. Some cars are made for more specific functions like four wheel drives but ultimatley what it all comes down to is cars are for driving.

This is where the aesthetic design is a huge part of how people purchase and use cars, almost every advertisement showcases just how the car looks over how it functions. There are exceptions to this rule but for the most part style and sleek are the main selling points of all cars and part of the reason why people attribute value to them.

While it is true that function and form do ultimatley matter to an audience, often the most expensive cars are just the ones that look very nice. While these cars may have better speed and handle more smoothly and have lots of little features, much of that is largely irrelevant in a suburban environment. It is a great example of aesthetics having value over usability, because how a car looks for the most part seems to matter more than the basic function it serves.

 

References:

Boulton Mark : Aesthetic usability effect (March 6, 2005) Retrieved May 5 2012 from:http://www.markboulton.co.uk/journal/comments/aesthetic-usability-effect

Gomoll, Tom and Wong, Irene (1994)Usability in Practise: Chapter 4 User-aided design at Apple Computer. Oval Road, London: ACADEMIC PRESS LIMITED.

Lawrence Dave and Tavakol Soheyla (2007) Balanced Web Design Chapter 4: Aesthetics and websites. London UK: SPRINGER VERLAG LONDON LIMITED.

“Apparent usability vs. Inherent usability: Experimental analysis of the detriments of apparent usability.”

By Masaaki Kurosu and Kaori Kashimura Chi 95 Conference companion 1995 page 292-293

Moss Trenton: Web aesthetics, what has it got to do with usability? Retrieved May 5 from:http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-usability/aesthetics-usability.shtml

Images:

In Xbox360 [Digital image] Retrieved (May 6 2011) from:http://www.fdbnetwork.com/xBox360

In iphones [Digital image} Retrieved (May 6 2011) from:http://romalmehta89.blogspot.com.au/2010_05_01_archive.html

In Cars [Digital image] retrieved 6 May 2011 from:http://carrentalhiregoldcoast.com.au/car-rental-gold-coast-cool-tips-for-renting-cars/

Welcome to my blog

This is the official blog of ECU student James Burnside for CCA1108. Enclosed you shall find four pages filled with the information and research and references that I used to put this wordpress account together as well as three RSS feeds linked on the side. I have also implemented a navigation system onto the bottom of each page that will move you on to the next or previous page or back here to the home page.

I hope you appreciate this blog, I put a lot of effort into it.

Sincerly

James Burnside