Reaction Note: Chapter 9: Platform and Posture
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‘What am I designing for and how do I want my product to present itself to the user?’ That is the question the authors want designers to consider in Chapter 9. Cooper et al, define platforms as “the combination of hardware and software that enables the product to function, in terms of both the user interaction and the internal operations of the product” (161), while Posture is defined as a “behavioural stance – the way [the product] presents itself to users. Posture is a way of talking about how much attention a user will devote to interacting with the product, and how the product’s behaviours respond to the kind of attention a user will be devoting to it” (162).
The program’s posture is part of its behavioural foundation. Care should be taken to make sure that the “look and behaviour of a product [reflects] how the product is used and not the personal taste of its designer” (162). Although there are different design needs for different platforms, the following four categories of postures can be used to describe the different behavioural attributes:
- Sovereign: Programs that monopolises the user’s attention for periods of time such as Microsoft Word. Sovereign applications tend to be for intermediate user, must be generous with screen real estate, use minimal visual style such as accents of colour, and include rich visual feedback
- Transient: Products that users are not very familiar with because they do not stay on the screen for a long time. They must be simple, clear and to the point in their design (e.g. Window Explorer).
- Daemonic: Types of programs that although may perform vital tasks, they run in the background with little awareness or interaction from the user
Posture is not only limited to software but can also extend to the web. To illustrate the posture of Designing of the Web, the author divided web design into four categories
- Informational Web Sites: whose posture must balance the need to display a reasonable density of useful information and the need to allow first time and infrequent users to learn and navigate the site easily
- Transactional Web sites: which must strike a balance between being sovereign and transient
- Web Application: which mimic desktop applications by exhibiting complex behaviours and being highly interactive. Their posture should allow the user to feel immersed in an environment with little navigation to distract from that experience
- Internet Enabled Application and Intranets are the last two categories that relate to web posture. The authors argues for a transformation from informational site to creating an experience through the use of RSS feeds, utilization of APIs and perhaps an abandonment of the use of web browsers all together.
The rise of mobile smart phones gives new challenges and opportunities to interaction designers and should be given new consideration. The software that run on a desktop computer or laptop have the luxury of being immersive because the user is mostly stationary. Handheld Devices, Kiosks, and other emended systems however are used differently and primarily by a mobile user. Therefore the following principles should be considered:
• Don’t think of your product as a computer
• Integrate your hardware and software design
• Let context drive the design
• Use modes judiciously, if at all
• Limit the scope
• Balance navigation with display density
• Customize for your platform
One of the questions that I was left with from reading the chapter was ‘is there a difference between an Interaction Designer and an Experience Designer?’ I think interaction designers must be driven by the desire to create experiences that the users can interact with and create designs that are unique to the platform.
Most web sites still serves as “informational Web Sites,” the taking of what is on paper and putting it online for mass access. Although that has its own virtue, it is not creating an experience that is unique to the web. The same seems to be occurring with regards to mobile devises that are being used simply to access the same information that one can access on a desktop computer. Thus seemingly serving the purpose of a mere mobile computer. There are few designs that are unique only to mobile devices such as smart phones. Rather than turning the mobile phone into a filler device for when one is away from the computer, it would be great if interactions and experiences can be created for just those devices.
The one disappointment that I found with the chapter is the little space accorded to mobile devices or the grouping that the authors labelled embedded systems. Most of the discussions on platforms and posture was centred on desktop and web applications/software.
Reference: Cooper, Reimann, & Cronin. (2007). About face 3: The essentials of Interaction Design. Wiley.