Designing for Every Day Life

Before I begin, grrr at having to write this blog twice because it didn’t save the first time. I’d have an angry emoticon here, but I can’t find one… which oddly enough is also making me mad at this time.

Actually, this point directly relates to the article “Designing for Everyday Life” by Gilliam Smith. Most of the article focuses on her main point while technology is progressing in areas of functionality and usability, we still have a long ways to go in other areas. “We’ve come to a stage when computer technology needs to be designed as part of everyday culture, so that it’s beautiful and intriguing, so that it has emotive as well as functional qualities.” – As this blog didn’t save correctly the first time, it has made me angry, thus showing this website has failed to (so far at least) to exhibit positive emotive qualities which would make me keep returning to it and become inhibited by it. Interestingly enough, if this website had functions exerting stronger cultural and symbolic values, I may not have been as frustrated by needing to save this post twice. This is similar to the difference between Apples and Dell computers. Most Dell owning users see their computer as a necessity, a product which allows them to surf the web, write documents, play games, etc. They don’t like their Dell’s, they just are required to use them, and when they break down, these same users often become extremely frustrated. Meanwhile, Apple is excelling in the author’s point. They have designed a computer with strong cultural values. People see their Apple as a part of their life, and when the computer breaks, they break down too. They are sad, but not frustrated and ready to throw their Apple out the window.

However, I do dissent regarding 1 issue brought up by the author. The author talks about film theory and how through the use of camera angles, lighting, plot structure, and other mechanisms, film makers are able to create emotions amongst their views. The author then goes on to claim that designers are not yet at a point where they understand how to create feelings and compassion amongst their products. But is film theory really much more advanced at this point? Surely some movies have us crying by the end of the movie (well, not me, boys don’t cry 🙂 ), but it seems many movies fail to really get to a point where the viewer actually feels as if they are in the shoes of the characters. Technology is hardly different as while most devices and websites are not engaging, some technologies have been massively successful such as iPods, facebook, and YouTube. I don’t believe we are really that far behind at all at this point. However, I can agree that we have room for improvement as designers, I am just not sure that we will ever reach a point where we understand human psychology well enough to always design technology which will be appealing to users on an emotional level.


  1. jeffreybardzell

    Interesting point about movies. If I understand you correctly, you are asking, “If the language of film is so good, how come there are so many bad movies?” It’s a fair question. However, there are a couple ways to answer it. First, the language of film is largely a matter of crticism, that is, the ability to speak specifically about what makes a scene or shot of a movie very good or bad, etc. Second, as a stable vocabulary, it makes it easier to teach film and to design effective movies intentionally. Put more simply, I suspect most people could go through film school and with adequate resources make movies that are at least mediocre (how we definte “mediocre” is debatable, too). But with interaction design, I’m not sure we’re there. Can we talk about a great interface the same way we can dissect a great film?

  2. kaycereed

    I have lost my posts before, so now when I type them, I am constantly copying and pasting into word so that if the website loses my shtuff, I still have it. Sorry that this happenned to you, I know how frustrating it can be…


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