Making print ads more interactive

Of late one can see the usage of QR codes in advertisements. So much so that it has been catching attention. It’s there on prints, can be found on the web medium and even displayed at notice boards and other common areas in public spaces. In case you are not familiar with it; QR codes stands for Quick Response codes and was meant to be a code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed. (Read more about it here on the Wikipedia page)

With the introduction of more phones that are based on the Android and the Symbian 3 platforms, it is but natural to have more applications that will make use of it.With the 3G network slated to come on a larger scale in the market too in the next month (Tata DOCOMO has already started the promotions for it), the number of applications will only increase. If there is anything that is sure, it is that the interactivity level of the users with their devices will increase.

It is this aspect of Interactivity that is the focus of this article. One can imagine and agree people spending more time on their devices (the phones, ipads, tablet pcs etc). With everyone trying to create solutions for different user groups keeping technology in mind, the number of possibilities are vast.

The down side of this would be the vast pool of information that will be available at the disposal to the user. In such a scenario it is very important to get the right piece of information in the shortest time possible. And that is precisely where the QR Codes (and another thing called Data Matrix) come in handy. Just feed in the information that you need to be coded, into many of the freely available, . . . → Read More: Making print ads more interactive

State of UX in India

I recently came across this article by Joe Fletcher titled “The Bridge Between Cultures and Design” The synopsis of the article is that: Over roughly the last 10 years, China and India have given way to a huge rise in technology outsourcing. Jobs are outsourced from companies like Microsoft, Google, T-Mobile, Honeywell, and many others. In Microsoft I’ve worked with teams in both India and China developing software for a variety of uses. Having our headquarters in the US, I usually work with small satellite teams in these countries. I couldn’t help but wonder why these countries who had become huge in the area of software technology, struggled so much in the area of user experience and UI innovation.Note: this article refers specifically to software UX. Both of these countries have very innovative and creative aspects in other areas of their culture, and I’m not expressing these comments as blanket statements.

I think that is a very valid question that Joe puts across. However I do not quite agree to all the points that he mentions in the article especially if one is looking at the case of India.

Cross Cultural Design

One of the key things required to see is the growth of UX as a field in India. While in the west the field UX, Interaction Design, HCI have been around for much longer a time, in India it is know only for say last 5-6 years.

This leads us the point that in India, Interaction Design has a long way to go before it catches up on the west. In my opinion, in India, the Interaction Design as a field is still limited to the software industry and all the User Experience is still discussed in the context of the Software Design. Unless . . . → Read More: State of UX in India

On Mobile User Experience

Of late a lot has been going on in the Mobile Domain. Needless to say, as designers, we have a huge role to play in the design of phones, its applications and the services associated with it.I have been following the Mobile market in an emerging market like India, very closely. With the tariff for the rates going down to the wire, where there is not further possibility of a reduction in the prices, User Experience and Customer Service IS going to be the differentiator.

Here below are three presentations that I came across today, while doing my readings in Mobile User Experience. I am sure each of them would have been more interesting to attend!

Mobile User Experience: What Web Designers Need to Know

A wonderful presentation, with a good insight into the domain of Mobile User Experience, and what Web Designers (and Interaction  /User experience Designers) need to look into, when designing experiences for the mobile phone.

Designing The Mobile User Experience

And then there is this presentation, that gives a sneak peak into the future. Of the exciting times that Mobile User Experience is going to bring along with it. What I am more interested in is how these high end phones can look to get into the emerging markets, provide similar experiences at a low cost.

Future trends in mobile user experience

I remember Pranav Mistry in his TED India talk mentioning about the need to make the Sixth Sense project open source, and thereby reducing the costs considerably. This would ensure that the technology is able to reach the masses and not just be limited to the elite.

. . . → Read More: On Mobile User Experience

The side effects of FBing!

I read a cartoon strip the other day. One mother to the other: My son is with a book always! How cool is that! The other mother: On that’s nice. His grades must be really good then as he is with a book always. First mother: He is on FaceBook.

Have you been bit by the Facebook bug yet ? I must admit that I have been to some extent. However there have been many other issues of concern that I have been having. One of them being the importance of maintaining my privacy.

The way people use Facebook, Orkut and other social networking sites (SNS) have been a matter of interest to me. This difference is also a result of the cultural differences people have across countries. The fact is also that people have taken a conscious decision on their part (or alteast have thought about it), when it comes to decide what information that they want to share .

One of the things that I always face a problem is the amount of information that I would be sharing on these SNS. Facebook now is the first choice of people to share images amongst friends. I have heard many people request me to upload my professional photographs on Facebook.  I have done so only to a limited extent.

Another large chunk of people use Facebook as a way of letting the world know each and every activity that they do. I mean seriously, is there any reason why I should know in such detail what the other person is doing. If I do, then it is a serious case of intruding into the other person’s privacy. However, wait! I did not intrude… It’s you who made that information public. So there is something going on here and . . . → Read More: The side effects of FBing!

Pick Me, Click Me, Educate Me!

I recently gave my masters graduation project presentation on designing for social impact and using photography as a research tool to help in the creation of social awareness solutions. I focused on the issue of child education in rural Bihar (India). The project was well received in the presentation and the overall consensus was good.

The final outcome of the graduation project is the website Pick Me, Click Me, Educate Me! This project serves to provide a platform to people from different backgrounds (photographers, writers, educationists, social workers, donors etc) to collaborate. It allows to utilize the work done by one group (like photographers who go to these locations and shoot), for discussion with the others who are not able to. It therefore allows aims for promoting , discussing, writing about, and finally donating (again not the prime focus) for, the issue of child education in rural Bihar.

Here is the promo video for the project

And this is the presentation that I made in the class.

Pick Me Click Me Educate Me

View more presentations from Kshitiz Anand.

5 Things that is NOT Interaction Design

I think these two below are interesting artciles.

I have been in a similar position of trying to explain people what I do for a living and the moment I say Experience Design, it becomes more abstract. The moment I say Graphic Design, it becomes too narrow. People ask me to consult on Usability, but I think that a person trained in Usability should do it. But since I learnt it and done different kind of Usability Activities, I agree to it. Some people ask me to do a look and feel of their website. I think that this is a area of expertise for a person trained in Graphic Design working in Web Medium (often called User Interface Designer).

Below here is the link to an article that I recently read on Coroflot. Its thought provoking. In the end one is left with the question whethere the field really requires a formal definition of some kind, or should it be happy where it is and keep exploring newer ventures within the context of interaction design.

An extract from the piece… Like most of my friends and colleagues in the creative professions, I have trouble explaining to my mom what exactly I do for a living, so it’s not like confounded laymen are an indicator of intentional obscurity. But IxD seems to be in a different category entirely. Not only does it confuse outsiders, it confuses Interaction Designers too.

Read more here

You could also read up the discussions on this topic at the IxD discussion forums at this location.

While you may agree of disagree to the things that are said in the above two links, it gives a fair amount of understanding to the kind of confusion that exists within and outside the field.

. . . → Read More: 5 Things that is NOT Interaction Design

On Content Management Systems

Of late I have been looking into the different ways of creating a website and also helped a few other people do the same. I think that the learning curve is extremely important for a designer and that is one thing I look into closely when I try out something new. With more and more build up of the online communities, one sees a lot of focus on Content Management Systems (CMS). This happens to be an easier way of doing things and thus not being dependent on the services of the developer to keep creating pages by hard-coding it on HTML / Dreamweaver. Perhaps this was the prime reason for me chosing to migrate my website to a CMS based system. I am thankful for that choice!

Wordpress – the backbone of this site.

I have used WordPress for this site (kshitizanand.com) and was totally blown away by the ease of use and the functionalities that it provided. I had been using it for the blogs, so I was familiar with the basic stuff on WordPress. After a while I then decided to try it out for a website. The wide number of themes and the every growing community makes WordPress an easy learning tool for designers. I am in love with WordPress and definitely recommend anyone who is interested in putting up an easy to maintain website

In a past project on creation of a Collaborative Tool designers and researchers, we had done an in depth study of the existing tools. The study was focused around community building, so Ning was the sole leader in seeking out to do multiple things.

Comparitive Study of different Collaborative Tools

However Drupal and Joomla were a close second and third respectively.

Joomla – supposedly popular with websites . . . → Read More: On Content Management Systems

On Publicy

Of late, I have been reading about the tremendous rise of the social networking sites. Facebooking is on an all time high and continues to grow further day by day. With more people giving their private data online, more companies asking for credit card details, friends keeping track via different channels, one is forced to think whether all this would be good in the long run.

I personally use two-three social networking sites and they have my information on it. When I started on these sites, I had all my information from my real birth date to my relationship status to my exact likes and dislikes on it. Over the years, I have removed some of the information. The irony of the situation is that even if you do that, all the people in the network get to know about it. So one would think that everything is lst in the name of networking and privacy is dead.

Recently I read about a term Publicy. Laurent Haug in his blog post titled ” Publicy the rebirth of privacy” talks about an interesting phenomenon that is happening everywhere. He mentions that “Privacy is not dead. It just went global and public, which doesn’t mean you can’t control what people know about you. Actually, it is now the other way around.”

Interesting article to read that one. And lots of food for thought.

Understanding experiences in photography exhibitions for Interaction Designers

This is a final paper I wrote for the Interaction Culture class at Indiana University.

ABSTRACT As Interaction Designers, two of the most important things that one needs to consider are the experience and also the audience being designed for. The presentation of the cultural expression is dependent on the presentation style and a thorough understanding of the audience. This paper aims at giving a close phenomenological understanding of a highly successful photography exhibition by India’s most renowned photographer, Raghu Rai. In the later part of the paper, from these points and an overall experience point of view, it is aimed to generate points for a framework for its application in Interaction Design.

Author Keywords Phenomenology, experience, exhibition, photography, interpretation, culture

Excerpts from the paper Interaction Design and HCI are constantly seeking for analogies from the established fields like computer science, the cognitive sciences, and other disciplines like sociology, anthropology, critical theory and philosophy. There has also been considerable efforts in trying to get an understanding from film theory and looking at experiences in film.

Photography exhibitions on the other hand are highly subjective. It is therefore more likely that any critical accounts of such exhibitions are phenomenological in nature. There is always the vision of a photographer that is being conveyed. And more often that not there is a mismatch between the intent of the photographer and the intent with which the viewer interprets it. There is also the element of time that comes into the picture when doing an analysis of the exhibition.

Conclusion Feelings and sensibility cannot be rationally expressed in words. It can only be experienced. Any exhibition of this kind, not only expanded the horizons for what can be exhibited in the Indian market today, but also helped in understanding what goes on in . . . → Read More: Understanding experiences in photography exhibitions for Interaction Designers

Sacred Digital Experiences

Cleaning is a sacred act. It has been done in the Indian culture (and also in other cultures around the world) since times immemorial. The Indian culture and traditions have been full of rituals and ceremonies in almost every event. And all of these rituals happen after an act of cleaning. There are festivals in which you have to clean up the houses as a compulsion, as it is said that the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, only enters those houses that are clean. In the traditional times (and also to a large population even today), people would not even take food without cleaning themselves up completely after bathing and performing a sacred ritual. This is even done in the coldest of months, and in the harshest of conditions. Many see these acts as cleaning the human soul. At times the act of cleaning also signifies the need to keep off the bad omen and the evil spirits. An extension of this is the ridiculously superstitious ceremonies that are held widely across the country. In times of adversities, the gods are summoned even more and every bit of effort is made to please the gods, so that the souls can be ‘clean’ and the society ‘cleaned’ of the adversity.

Being an Indian, who is religious, and who does not take any food on all most all days without having a shower (unless of course if I am starving), and who wants the goddess of wealth to bless me, I think that “Cleaning my computer’s desktop” (more specifically on a Mac) is a truly sacred act. The sacred experience that I have every time I have to clean my desktop gives me a joy and a sense of satisfaction that perhaps no other act does.

I see the computer’s desktop as an . . . → Read More: Sacred Digital Experiences