Designers' book list (and philosophical discussion)

dave holbon

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First my condolences for the loss of your job, this is always difficult to take especially when you get older. You are lucky here as you’re young and can “start again” this luxury won’t be there forever.

A previous post indicated that a good designer is born, it you have to learn it you are not a designer or artist, and my view is that I must agree with this to some extent. The difference here I suppose is that a good design not only looks good but makes the interface “all to easy” at trick that’s very difficult to perform with a software based application as it must be viewed from the users perspective only, whilst hiding all the underlying complexities.

It’s really a state of mind, a way of using imagery to paint a picture but not so obvious as to be, well obvious…

What’s good design today (arty crafty) can become tomorrows designs to be avoided, but a good basic design stands the test of time. Time in this field however is limited to about two years only, as its technology based a bit like Windows Vista and its Aero mode, you know all those “glass effects” and so on are only good for that period, then they die, never to be remembered.

Use and aesthetics the (latter being in the eye of the beholder, the former in the realm of judgmental possibilities) can never be defined because they are both time dependant and opinion dependant, hence can’t be evaluated; only viewed at a single point in time. Of course this can change (by definition) almost by the hour.

:):)
 

AllWeatherGal

Not Just for Fair Weather
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Hey Dave ... I strongly disagree that use can't be defined. Or evaluated, anyway. But that's what I'm spending most of my graduate program on ... human performance (not just human computer interaction, but the larger issue) ... and there are criteria you can use to evaluate anything's "usability" and ways to test and validate.

I think that while designers may be born, learning methodologies and theory and history can certainly enhance anyone's ability to do something well.
 

dave holbon

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Yes of course you are right however there are, as always, some usability issues not considered very often and of course “human performance (not just human computer interaction, but the larger issue)”. These subjects all fall into the realm of subjective testing and the measurements of the “average”, they have no meaning in fact at all, relate only to the pool or number of subjects chosen and are not scientific but merely reflections of what might have been as they are also retrospective views by definition of the testing method itself.

That’s why if you ask a thousand people in the US/UK what will happen if you waive a red flag in front of a bull they will almost certainly give you the wrong answer 90% of the time if they are of a certain age group as bulls are colour blind.

Try this on your friends. Ask them (in a moment of uncertainty, or totally out of the blue) to answer two questions without thinking i.e. instantly, and Ill bet you know that you get a 90% plus response: -

For males:-

Q Favourite colour
A = Blue
Q Any number between one and ten
A = Seven (I think)

For Females: -

Q Favourite colour
A = Pink
Q Any number between one and ten
A = five (I think)

The “I think” bits are because I have forgotten the answers myself but in tests of US marines carried out in the 50’s and 60’s by psychologists a remarkable human aspect now long forgotten was almost unveiled, that being that we are a product of our genes, our upbringing and our racial background and “views” perpetrated by out peers as we grew up. Humans can be easily programmed, as all politicians; political statisticians and what I call evangelists, know only to well.

Seemingly obvious things are complicated to the extreme whilst complex matters are simple when you have a handle on them.

DaveH
:):)
 

AllWeatherGal

Not Just for Fair Weather
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Hi Dave ... you know, an awful lot of what you seem to believe is unknowable actually IS discoverable. It's just that few clients are willing to spend the time and money to truly understand a given audience/user/learner ... and again, not a lot of "graphic designers" or even UI experts even KNOW how to perform a user task analysis or a system needs assessment.

As you say, people of a certain age WILL think red-bull-charge. And if we're part of your intended audience, then you can certainly plan for that.

It's just not as amorphous and secret as you think. There is a science, there are instruments and methodologies that we can put to use in aid of good communication. It's not just throw up your hands and choose robins' egg blue because it suits your mood of the day!
 

dave holbon

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Foucalt's razor.

Are you sure that this is spelt correctly?

You sound just like me 25 years ago when I thought that I would never die, were self confident and sure, and just like the words of an old band called the “Eagles” now long forgotten I suppose, said… “An old man told me… son, don’t wade to deep... in bitter creek”. If you have a set of strongly held beliefs then follow then, don’t listen to the likes of me or others that try to limit your thought patterns, fight for your ground and never give up. After all we only live once. In the end I suppose it does not matter who is right just that the thought processes do not die, and things never become clear or the learning process will of course be at an end!

:):):)
 

falconguard

Carbon based lifeform
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Actually it is Occam's Razor and Foucault's pendulum
 

AllWeatherGal

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Are you sure that this is spelt correctly?

On both sides of the pond: spelled :)

just like the words of an old band called the “Eagles” now long forgotten I suppose,

Dave all is not lost!!! I just heard on the radio that the Eagles have cut a new "album" (or made a new DVD as the young people say these days). :cheeky::cheeky:

I rather suspect we're about the same age. I do remember dial phones, black and white televisions (when they were a new and exciting), typing papers on a manual, my first introduction to "the mainframe" and phonograph record players. I'm just going to grad school and all excited about learning and validating my instincts. Plus, I live in Northern California ... it's tough to not love life surrounded by the beauty.
 

dave holbon

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On both sides of the pond: spelled :)

just like the words of an old band called the “Eagles” now long forgotten I suppose,

Dave all is not lost!!! I just heard on the radio that the Eagles have cut a new "album" (or made a new DVD as the young people say these days). :cheeky::cheeky:

I rather suspect we're about the same age. I do remember dial phones, black and white televisions (when they were a new and exciting), typing papers on a manual, my first introduction to "the mainframe" and phonograph record players. I'm just going to grad school and all excited about learning and validating my instincts. Plus, I live in Northern California ... it's tough to not love life surrounded by the beauty.

Occam’s razor, yes the old laws of simplicity modified slightly by that old Start Trek aficionado Spock when stating “Jim, if you remove all that’s impossible, what your left with is the truth, no matter how improbable” (or something similar), of course this is mere conjecture and relies on the users view of what’s impossible but nevertheless has the ring of plausibility about it, and pseudo logic. In reality it’s all rubbish, it’s a set of beliefs held by the few to confuse the many, Hmmm…

I had forgotten the old ways, you know the bashing on an old mechanical typewriter where the arms kept jamming at the typeface, and the telephones that took ages to dial as the round metallic thing you inserted you finger into, spent ages returning to its original position whilst you listened to the clicking sound, and of course the “ticking” of a scratch on the old plastic records from the age of the Beatles or the Eagles.

No change there then, things have just got faster, not better as the truth is that a perfect vinyl recording is about 20% better than the best digital recording, by design (because of the sampling process), mechanical typewriters have no spelling checker but did set the standard for the QWERTY keyboard now a computer standard (design error here as its the most inefficient system of entering data) and not forgetting the modern television screen which here in the UK now uses compression to enable twenty more channels, which in fact is a vast sep backwards from the systems we had before in terms of video quality. Design is moving backward in favour of profit. The problem is that this is (profit) becoming good design.

:):)
 

AllWeatherGal

Not Just for Fair Weather
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Dave: UK now uses compression to enable twenty more channels, which in fact is a vast sep backwards from the systems we had before in terms of video quality.

AllWeatherGal: You are KIDDING ME! Twenty MORE channels? Do you mean ... the digital/video type channels or the ones that you turn to watch a show?

When I lived in the UK (N. Yorks, to clarify), there were four channels and dammit, we were grateful to have them, paying our radio tax faithfully ... even on the days that the options at any given time were (1) billiards (2) card game (3) bowling and (4) that silly scarecrow from Oz.

I'll have to think more on your statement about profit versus design. I'm not sure that's not stretching the "design" idea a bit farther than I would go.

Have you read "Ambient Findability"? I'd say that one of the assertions of that book is that we're actually returning, through "Web 2.0" philosophies and design principles, back to a yes, technologically oriented, but more relationship-valuing culture.
 

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Also Hi EP and people. I found this place again while looking through a oooollllllldddd backup. I have filled over 10TB and was looking at my collection of antiques. Any bids on the 500Mhz Win 95 fix?
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