Friday, November 8, 2013

Lab 04: Answers

Part I: Coding a hotel website:

The user group for a website for a hotel is quite a broad one but there are several groups we can specify with some certainty:

  • We can safely assume that the website will be primarily used by users over 18 years old. Users under 18 are unlikely to be booking a hotel for themselves. They either will not have the financial means, interest in booking a hotel or a method of payment available to them. 

  • We can assume that the user group is not limited to those who have a large amount of technical knowledge or education as people from all backgrounds may be in the position to book a hotel from time to time. 

  • We should assume that the website should be designed for users on the move as they will often need to find directions to the hotel, especially if they are visiting the area for the first time. 

We will absolutely use mental models in designing of our website for the hotel. Mental models are psychological representations of real, hypothetical, or imaginary situations. We will have to use mental models carefully to deliver to the users a message which connects with their understanding of what they would like their stay in a hotel to be. We can use mental models to take advantage of a users expectations and desires of their stay, using various means to suggests to the user that their idea of a perfect stay in a hotel is exactly what this hotel will provide. 

Again, we will certainly be using metaphor in the design of our website as well. A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object. We can also use visual metaphors, such as icons to suggest an idea. (e.g. Skueomorphism).  We can use this idea in many wasy such as in the form of icons, colour (red to denote stop, pause or caution, green to denote go, good or correct etc.) We can also utilise a kind of extended metaphop buy designing our website to represent a window into a kind of idilic scene which a stay in our hotel may represent. We can design the site with luxurious text and images to suggest to the user that their stay will be the same kind of experience. 


Part II: Perception and Attention:

These sites are very interesting in terms of discovering more about visual perception. It is interesting to see how the eye can discern images and patterns. For instance, I could see some of the images immediately while other images took longer to discern. The image of the woman’s face being hidden in the trees and the reflection of the lake was particularly tricky to spot. One possible reason for this that I considered is that we expect to see a face the right way up and because that face was laid out horizontally, it took me longer to discern. Another interesting aspect was that once an image was discerned within the pattern or original image, it was impossible to not see it. It was interesting that once a pattern has been learned to be discerned in such a way, it stays in the mind.

The images based on closure were equally interesting. They showed that we can naturally close off and complete images that are only partially revealed. Users can be given an image and we can be assured that they will be able to see the images we desire them to see if they designed in such a way that allows them to. We can see this extensively in the way many logos are designed. Often we see logos which are incomplete or make use of negative space which allow users to read the full logo in a dynamic way.  

The several games that I played tell me that in general I am fairly strong in terms of visual memory. I achieved a score of 14/20 which seemed to be an average score. 

While playing these games I realised that I was utilising several of Gastalt's principles to try and remember and recall the visual patterns. Some of the principles used were:
Proximity- How close the icons were to each other played a huge role in remembering where they were.
Continuity- I found it easier to remember patterns if they appeared in a line or shape rather than randomly.
Similarity- The fact that the icons were similar made it easier to re-form a mental image of where they were on the board when they had disappeared.
Closure- Similarly to continuity, I found that when the icons appeared in certain shapes I was able to remember them in terms of their grouping and this included areas I remembered to be empty.

This exercise is a very informative one in terms of helping us in interactive design as it can show us useful ways of making a visual patterns or display memorable to the user. We can design our elements in such a way that we can take advantage of the Gastalt principles named and others to leave a subtle impression on the users mind and create our websites with ease of use for the user in mind. Also this kind of exercise can be informative in teaching us how to design a website which a user can use with ease when returning to the website in the future as they will be able to remember how the site works if designed simply and effectively.


In this exercise I managed to count the number of times the ball was passed correctly, and I did see the gorilla (however, I think I have seen this video a few years ago, so possibly remember it from the first time I had seen it, I remember I did not see it the first time.).

This is relevant to HCI because it shows us the power of focused attention. When our attention is focused we can discern very complex visual patterns, such as the one illustrated in the video, However to do this, we must force ourselves to block out all other visual distractions. For instance in this example, we can assume that most people subconsciously told themselves "focus on only the white t-shirts". While doing this we effectively block out anything that is not white on screen from our immediate attention. This is important for HCI because it shows us the power of focusing the users attention on what we want them to see but it also tells us that users will only be able to focus one aspect of the webpage at a time. 

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