vrijdag 22 januari 2010

Personal Evaluations

The amount of lectures and the depth of the content wassn´t always according to expectations. With a subject like CMID, the rapid increase of innovations and technology and the word wide web as an information source, I expected much involvement and knowledge of studies on how things were developed and what and how these inventions were accepted by its users. I would like to learn more about user interaction and the constantly increasing human urge for renewall and progression. Perhaps a more psycological approach of the subject is what I was expecting at the beginning of the course. But looking back, reading the study guide information, this never seemd to be the intention of this course. However, the lectures were not necesairilly bad, some subjects were interesting and perhaps usefull in further projects and e.g. when working on subjects like brand identity etc. (envisaging on Bureau Buhrs lecture)

An ever changing experience, learning to work with “strangers” within a period of 10 weeks and proving its succes by eventualy presenting a concept which you spent hours discussing on together. When it comes to individual opinion I dare to say ours often differs from one another, sometimes ending up in discussions and the occasional disagreements. However, it's nice to see how it all turned out. At the end we “fitted through one door” and more or less shared the same vision. I don't regard these, sometimes stressy, events as being only negative. Everyone simply wants to let his or her voice to be heared and tries to push his or her concepts/ideas through the selection. Being 3rd year students we're experienced enough to know how to cope with these situations. The frustrations, indifferences and difficulties that appear when “teamed” with multiple dominant characters are inevitable and are of great importance in experiencing and showing off your capabilities and progress towards beeing a qualified designer (together). It's just as in real life, I guess.

Living next to the railroad bridge made the assignment even more exiting. I honestly felt compassion with the subject, and felt involved in such a way that it even kept me busy when not working with team CrossLink. My roommates all know about the project and I shared my findings, concepts and progress with them. Appart from the subject it self I actually believe that it would be a great idea to have the people of Delft to get together in order to emphasize some form of togetherness. This might sound “cheesy” but in my experience, the way I look at it, Delft can be a rather surly environment where people hardly know their own neighbours or communicate with strangers. And as one of the interviewed persons mentioned “the only people who actually care about the railroad project are the house owners along the track, appart from those people who deal out of own interest, hardly anyone ever visits the spoorzone information centre” This confirms my sense of distance within the Delft society, not to mention the huge gap between the generations. And so, this is why I can ratify my statement, showing compassion and willing to succeed the project (or at least the underlying message) People of Delft; “I want you to get together” - Moby

With all members of our team beeign experienced team workers they're well aware of the importance of good structure in planning and approach. We managed to setup a waterproof system using a powerfull tool called “dropbox” and made sure all documents were “dropped” and filed according to chronologicall order. I found it nececarry to make notula at every meeting (with team and or coach) in order not to loose track on the courses. As with most of our team members, I also had a lot of other things to worry about following three other courses on the faculty. However, making the issue negotiable within the group, we never felt imbalance distributing the tasks.

Starting the project nine weeks ago, we immediately had a lot of ideas about the Spoorzone and how we could make it more enjoyable. These ideas were mostly futuristic, out of the box and unrealisable. We wanted too much too soon. We had to take a step back, look at a target group, a goal and we had to learn more about cross media. We took this step back successfully and concentrated on the theme and chose our target group. Initially we wanted to design for all project visitors, young and old. However, this seemed a bit of a broad audience, so we narrowed it down to the elderly project visitors.

At first we were a little sceptical about our target group, the elderly. They limited us somewhat in our choice of media, but also in the design of the interface. We would have to make something not too young or flashy, with clearly recognisable use cues. But it was also a challenge. All four of us were more used to designing for ‘our’ people; young students with a broad understanding of technique and experience with user interfaces. Now we had to work out of our comfort zone and think like an elderly person. What would they understand? Would too many buttons or colours distract them from their task?
Thinking back, I like the fact that we did not choose a standard target group, but I would have liked to design something a little more ‘hip’ or worked with more advanced techniques like QR codes. Also the website has had a lot less attention then it would with a different target group, considering that the elderly (in our experience) would not visit such a website very often, or perhaps not at all.

As said earlier, we were a little limited in our choices of media, since elderly generally would not own flashy mobile phones, our use the internet a lot. So we decided to work with more accessible media, placed at the Spoorzone itself so that the elderly would always have a chance to view this media without electric devices.

Working on our conceptual design was a little harder then we had anticipated. We had divided some tasks that would have been done better when working together. Teamwork is essential in this stage of the project; you have to come to a consensus about the visual style, which is an important part of the identity of your project. In my opinion, we have not talked enough about the feeling we wanted to convey with our style. There were many different designs made, but there were some disagreements in choosing a particular style, also because it had to fit the elderly. I feel like I have not interfered with the design enough, personally I would have liked to see some more colour in our design, considering we were also trying to bring more colour to the Spoorzone with our project. I know now, that I should be a little more assertive in these discussions in the future.

The detailed design was not very easy to make, there were still some things undecided or unclear in our concept, this led to confusion on occasion. In the end we had created all task analyses and the task flows, this made everything a bit clearer and helped us to get further on the project.

Evaluating the project with the local residents of the Spoorzone was very interesting. The tips and ideas they gave us were helpful, but we had already completed our design at that time, so unfortunately we could not incorporate them in our final design.

I have worked a great deal on our flash movie, this was a very time consuming task, especially when I succeeded in deleting our entire movie the day after our trial presentation. The voice-over took us a few trials, but I believe we have gotten it right after all. I think the eventual movie is very clear and understandable, even for the elderly.

When looking back on the project we’ve been busy with for the past nine weeks, I have to admit we do have some difficulties now and then.
First of all: the group itself. Although most of the time we worked pretty well, there were some periods with some fierce arguments. Most of the times, the cause of these arguments was the same: someone was absent. This, I feel, was the biggest problem in our group. Sam was doing another course at the same time, both Anna and Danielle were busy with a committee of there students’ union. This doesn’t need to be a problem, and most of the times it wasn’t, but when looking back, we maybe should’ve made some clearer rules about this.

Second subject: the project. In the end, it turned out pretty well, but we had some startup problems. Sometimes we lost the overview of the project and communication didn’t go well; things were done double and some things were forgotten (‘I thought you were supposed to do that!’-“No you were!”). Most recent example: we didn’t communicate the rescheduled tutor meeting with Gert, everybody thought of one another someone had mailed him. However, there were also good things in our process, like the startup of a Dropbox. A very handy computertool that everybody installed on his or her pc, as soon as somebody put a file in the dropboxmap, it was also in the maps on the other pc’s. Both a good filesharing- and a backupprogam. Very useful program, thanks to Sam.

Finally: the movie. Anna did the most of the animating, since she was the only one with Flash experience. It turned out the most one hell of a job, but she did very well. In the end, the stress was almost to much for her, when the export of the movie just didn’t worked well. At least, that’s what we thought. She opened every exported moviefile in VLC-mediaplayer, which apparently messed up the colors and animations. Thursdayevening I discovered this, when I just opened it in Quicktime, and had no problems. Just in time to upload it on youtube.

In the end, I’m satisfied with the result, and I think we have made an interesting crossmedia-concept, which could be really realized since it’s not to futuristic. Maybe we’ll see a lot of colorfull balloons around the Spoorzone in a few months. Who knows!

The briefing was a difficult start for me. Cross Media is about changing from media to media and how to reach this? Unlike the normal design process were we have to develop a product. While we were brainstorming we thought too much in products and we had to take some step back and take another road. Also we had to start to think of what goal we want to reach in staid of thinking in problems. That was difficult but if I did not thought it was not difficult I did not learn things.
In my view we made a good briefing eventually.

The next thing we had to make was a media strategy. How do we reach these personas and with what media? We started with a brainstorm of existing cross media so we got some ideas. With this brainstorm we made our own concept and chose the best. Then we started making our own media strategy. This was a clear process to choose existing media and new media (the pole).

The conceptual design brought us several discussions. To make important decisions we have to work in a team. This part of the assignment is an important part because it consist the visual design of your project. A first impression is very important. Because our target groups are elderly you cannot make some freaky fancy design. A visual design for elderly has to be clear and not with fancy fonts. That is why there were too many lay-outs. In the future when I make another project, I know now that visual design needs a lot of preparation and agreements. After that the visual design can be made.

For the detailed design it is important to make clear task flows. In the beginning our task flow were a bit disordered. There will always be changes in the task flow during the project. Wait until you are certain that the task flow is good. Then you can start designing a clear lay-out.

The evaluation brought us with new ideas and tips. It is always good to evaluate your project by other people. There was not really another manner to do the evaluation but I think by doing a good brainstorm session we come up with better ideas to evaluate our project.

Anna was in charge of the movie. She was the only one who could work in Flash. Our job was to make the different pages. The next time it would be clever that someone else learned flash also, because flash is a difficult program and cost a lot of time.

I thought the course was very interesting. As I said before, you do not design a product but a way for crossing media. That is why I liked this project. It is different then other projects. With an amusing group it was a nice project.

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