Archives for posts with tag: movies

The other night I was watching a documentary about origami, “Between the Folds“.

Each of the artists profiled said that in their earlier years of origami, they focused on the complexity of each creation, on how many new folds and shapes they could create or use. But as they matured (in both age and artistry), each was drawn more and more to the simplicity.

One man said he challenges himself over and over to create all kinds of shapes using only one single fold in the paper. It reminds me of the mysterious Möbius strip.

Personally I find origami soothing and relaxing — a way of losing yourself in something, as you concentrate on making the perfect creases and flaps. What’s between the folds is whitespace, after all.

Similarly, I think the best websites are like this too; when the experience of reading, interacting or purchasing something is easy and pleasurable. Everything you need is right at your fingertips, and you don’t have to look very far to find what helps or stimulates you.

I’ve been reading the UX Bible recently, Donald Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, and I find that I get increasingly irritated when office phones don’t function as they should, or sites that I regularly read switch their design/layout and it makes it harder to enjoy.

For instance, I regularly check this site for news and updates, but the one thing I wish they’d do differently is function more like Gawker or Lifehacker (and their other sister sites), where the right nav articles are ALWAYS available, and you never stray from the main format screen. Now I have to continuously hit the Back button or the homepage icon to return to the full list of articles.

Something like a one-fold solution would do the trick, I think.

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Sorry I’ve been away — moving and traveling — aren’t those life’s constants, anyway?

InteractiveWall from Festo HQ via A List Apart on Vimeo. The wall reacts to the presence of users, just like responsive websites should.

Last night B and I re-watched Inception, and I was thinking this morning that it probably wasn’t as popular or deemed Oscar-worthy as it could have been, potentially because the film didn’t use universal archetypes to create its dream space. The few characters that were fleshed out had flaws and attributes, but they weren’t necessarily the kind that most people identify with. It’s the universal that draws people and allows them to engage with a film or product, but in order to access the universal, you have to truly know your users (audience).

Along this same note, earlier I was reading about responsive web design, and how web designers need to be aware that they don’t know much info about the user; and many times, they don’t have a clue what kind of device or screen resolution the user uses.

The idea is that you now have to design for every single variable and difference — for devices that don’t yet exist, that will react to users who may not exist yet either!

So perhaps the lesson is that the future of web design and user experience is HOW to create and architect a (white) space that allows the User to dream his own dream — to fill a universal space with his or her own particular subconscious. Easy, right?

After my last post about neural networks and movie sales predictors, I looked up the original New Yorker article. Gladwell intros with a quote by philosopher David Hume:

“Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.”

Then the article contrasts this by laying out the evidence that there DO seem to be some standardized evaluators of what human beings find appealing in music and in movies (and websites?). What about books? The canon of literature?

The High Priestess

The High Priestess card from the popular Rider-Waite Tarot deck represents what we don't know or can't define; in other words, "whitespace".

Visually-speaking, I think movies are a fast-moving collection of symbols that our subconscious minds react to. Yep, that’s right, I’m referring to Jung’s definition of archetypes. The symbol of “mother” or “teacher” are universal symbols that we as human beings seem to process the same way, independent of culture or background or upbringing. Not to get too esoteric, but these same ideas of archetypes are the basis for the Tarot deck.

One method of choosing (or predicting) user experience is to create personas for the user. Let’s say I’m building a new site for my personal resume (which I am). Suppose Steve, a middle-aged manager of a marketing department at a medium-sized company is looking for a web developer (or UX/UI designer). Steve knows relatively little about how developers work, but he does know what he finds aesthetically pleasing. My job in building this new site is to please Steve’s eye, but also help him find the information he needs to determine whether I’d be a good candidate for the job. That would include my contact info, easily clicked samples of my code and designs, and my work history (so he knows I’m experienced).

So what if there were methods of mapping these archetypes and emotionally-charged information for website users? How would you use symbols to increase users and/or website sales? It’s a bit Mad Men, isn’t it?

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