January 31, 2011

USA Today Wireframes

The Winnerrrrr:
The design that I'm going to move forward with is a modular design. This webpage is meant to be totally customizable. In the first page, the user (Stacy_007) has arranged her news categories in to how important they are to her. The same thing is happening on the next page, where she has click into the category "news" and she has also arranged the subcategories to her liking. Although, on this page, categories that she sees as unimportant are still present on the screen. They're just much smaller. From there, she can choose and article, which she can annotate as she reads. When she's done reading, she can choose to submit her annotations as comments, and see what other people had to say about it.

Other layouts:

I'll be working elements of these pages into the chosen layout.


USA Today Improvements

While navigating through the USA today website, I noticed a couple issues that I had with their navigation and layout. Although I will give them credit, it is a pretty easy-to-navigate site compared to some other new websites.

To begin with, there are multiple links on any given page that lead you to the same place. Since the pages seem like they go on and on forever, they could really clear up some space by removing all the duplicates.When then primary navigation is hierarchically distinguished by being in a bar at the top, being in buttons, and being color coded, there's really no reason to put them again further down the page...and again at the bottom.
When you visit the site, you do seem to have the option to create a member account. But the benefits of this account are limited, allowing you to comment and subscribe to get emails. That's...about it. Granted, I didn't spend a lot of time signing up and browsing. SO, if they DO have more features available, I should be able to see them better.
And as previously mentioned, the pages go on forever, and the articles within each category are not organized in any particular method. hierarchy of individual articles could be improved, if there is any. And if there isn't any that is more important that another, for goodness sake, take them out of those boxes that they're almost randomly places in.

Design research, Designing for Interaction

Designing for Interaction

  • qualitative - is a smaller range and asks why and how
  • quantitative- more general statistics, asks what. Really large groups surveyed.
  • Qualitative is the kind of research that we want to do because it is more personal and gives us an idea of aspects like the cultures behaviors, values, motivations.
  • It's essential to remain neutral toward the group you're researching, even though you need to be empathetic.
  • Being ethical is also essential with interacting with the audience.
  • Collect information long enough, and patterns will emerge. This is what you map.
  • When interviewing, note things besides their answers. Note the tone in their voice, body language, etc.
Design Research
  • we must both observe an interpret:
  • behaviors
  • cultures
  • belief systems
  • attitudes

Ethnography - the study pf people in their own environment
It's important that as designers we are familiar with ethnography, so that we can research and analysis the people we are trying to appeal to.

Symposium Concept Map

So for the concept map, I tried to make sentences that made sense as it traveled down the lines of though.

January 27, 2011

Preliminary Research: Baby Boomers

  • Defining a Baby Boomer


Beginning with the secondary research, we thought it would be a good idea to see what makes this generation worth having its own name. Baby boomers are all of the Americans born between the years 1946 and 1964 beginning after World War II ended(this is also a generation in other countries like Canada, Australia, Great Britain, etc. But they have different names for this group in those countries) . Now, this group is about 29% of the population, about 75 million. But it's not just the time in which they were born. More definitely, it is the time during which they grew up that makes them so special.

BabyBoomerHeadQuarters is a great overview source for this. Fascinating stuff!


  • Boomers represent the majority of the work force, although, this is beginning to shift.
  • The huge growth of the economy is because of boomers reaching their peak earning and spending years.
  • Biggest buying group, currently-dominating big-ticket spending in areas like travelling (vacations), car sales, etc.
  • Day care centers largely came to existence because boomers (so they also began the shift from staying home to take care of their kids)
  • largely, advertising has been following this generation since they were kids. The story goes like this:

30 million baby boomers are around by 1950. Who comes along? Gerber, now probably the best known baby food company. The kids start to grow, and so does the toy industry, at a ridiculously fast pace. TV is just becoming big. So is children's programming. Disneyland pops up in in the 1950s as well. Later, in the 70s (now that the kids are a little older) Disneyworld is build and filled with thrill rides. Flashy cars of the 60s and 70s are also a result of catering to the Boomers.

Other products that are getting big because of this subculture: "active retirement communities and vacation homes, skin creams, tooth whitening goo, cosmetic surgery, lasik surgery, Depends, and, of course, the Hair Club for Men."*

And because I don't want to type this all out, I'll copy this directly:

Social Impact:

"Aside from that, what impact on society are boomers having? Well, let's see now... the CEO of General Electric is a boomer; the CEO of IBM is a boomer; the CEO of Ford is a boomer; Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) are boomers; Steve Jobs is a boomer; Steven Spielberg is a boomer; Ron Howard is a boomer; Tom Hanks is a boomer; Denzel Washington is a boomer; Meg Ryan is a boomer; Michael Jordon is a boomer. The producers of most TV shows and movies are boomers. The editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal (Paul Gigot) is a boomer. Rush Limbaugh is a boomer; Oprah is a boomer; Barack Obama is a boomer; Mitt Romney is a boomer. Madonna is a boomer; Bruce Springsteen is a boomer; Tom Cruise is a boomer; David Letterman is a boomer; Jay Leno is a boomer; Dr. Laura is a boomer. Clarence Thomas is a boomer; Sean Hannity is a boomer; Glenn Beck is a boomer; Al Gore is a boomer; Bill and Hillary Clinton are boomers; Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve System, is a boomer; Sarah Palin is a boomer; Osama bin Laden is a boomer; George Bush is a boomer; Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is a boomer; every potential candidate for the Supreme Court for the next 20 years will likely be a boomer."

25 Defining Images in Baby Boomer History - pretty self-explanatory

Wikipedia Information

"As a group, they were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time."

"In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about.[4] This rhetoric had an important impact in the self perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon."


"Jones Generation" - the second half of the baby boomers generation. The name comes from the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." Supposedly, the Jonesers were given huge expectations as children in the 60s, and then were confronted with a different reality in the 70s and 80s. Also, it seems they are "less optimistic, distrust of government, and general cynicism."

"Golden Boomers" - Boomers who are retired or will retire from an occupation or profession.

In the 1985 study of US generational cohorts by Schuman and Scott, a broad sample of adults was asked, "What world events over the past 50 years were especially important to them?" For the baby boomers the results were:

  • Baby Boomer cohort #1 (born from circa 1946 to 1955), the young cohort who epitomized the cultural change of the sixties
  • Baby Boomer cohort #2 or Generation Jones (born from circa 1956–1964)
    • Memorable events: Watergate, Nixon resigns, the Cold War, lowered drinking age in many states 1970-1976 (followed by raising), the oil embargo, raging inflation, gasoline shortages, Jimmy Carter's imposition of registration for the draft, disco music from Donna Summer and The Bee Gee's, punk or new wave from The Clash and Deborah Harry and techno pop to Annie Lennox and MTV.
    • Key characteristics: less optimistic, distrust of government, general cynicism
    • Key members: Douglas Coupland who initially was called a Gen Xer but now rejects it and President Barack Obama who many national observers have recently called a post-Boomer, and more specifically part of Generation Jones

CURRENT CONCERNS (pre interview assumptions)

"Baby Boomers control over 80% of personal financial assets and more than 50% of discretionary spending power. They are responsible for more than half of all consumer spending, buy 77% of all prescription drugs, 61% of OTC medication and 80% of all leisure travel."*

boomers start retiring during 2007–2009.

With a grain of salt, since this is from a 1993 article:

42% of baby boomers were dropouts from formal religion, a third had never strayed from church, and one-fourth of boomers were returning to religious practice. The boomers returning to religion were "usually less tied to tradition and less dependable as church members than the loyalists. They are also more liberal, which deepens rifts over issues like abortion and homosexuality."

As of 1998, it was reported that, as a generation, boomers had tended to avoid discussions and planning for their demise and avoided much long-term planning.

Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and death and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care.

Alzheimer's Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers

Retirements Swallowed by Debt


Continuing work after retirement

New Issues as Boomers continue to Age

Social Security Insecurity

too-young-to-retire-and-too-old-to-rehire - an article dispelling myths about Boomer's

Information Architecture Readings

First, a note. It seems that I missed the part about only reading Wurman. So I read them all.


Designers need to be involved in more aspects of the creations they are designing for. In the commercial word examples he uses, it seems like the big issue is that there is no interaction between the different people involved in the creation of a product, who brings it to the user, and the user themselves. There is potential for a gap in the interest of the user and in the understanding of the user. There needs to be more clarity.

Organize by:
  • Location
  • Alphabet
  • Time
  • Category
  • Hierarchy
This article talks about the importance of readability in typography, and that we perhaps put too much emphasis on designers past accomplishments. Unreadable text isn't something that should be glorified and should not be considered the end-all of typography. How can someone understand a language that has been made to be illegible?

Don't Make Me Think

Chapter 3

-with users browsing content quickly, it's important to make sure they see as much as possible, by using several tactics:

1. Create a clear visual hierarchy
  • make sure the appearance portrays the relationships between things on the page.
  • larger, bolder, in a distinctive color, more white space, nearer to the top, etc.
  • things that are related logically are also related visually, via grouping below a heading, similar style, or putting them in one area.
  • nest things that are part of other things.
2. Take advantage of conventions
  • conventions are what allow us to scan through information faster, because we know the significance of each portion of the page (ie. a headline, a caption, an image)
  • conventions seem pretty universal, with only slight variations
  • they're conventions because they work well, saves effort on the designer and the user side of things.
  • suck it up and utilize them, don't be pretentious. OR
  • make something that is clear and self-explanatory, or so incredibly useful that it is worth adding a bit of a learning curve (and hopefully eventually making it into a new convention)
3. Break up into clearly defined areas
  • divide the page into areas so that users can quickly choose what to focus on, and which to ignore.
  • once a section is ignored though, people almost never use it.
4. Make it obvious what's clickable
  • let this be mindless, it's not something users want to waste time looking around for
  • distinguish buttons as buttons, links as links
  • look to conventions again, to help clarify this
5. Minimize noise
  • everything is visual noise, so try to get rid of what you can
  • busy-ness is when everything is competing for attention
  • and background noise is all the small things that add up

Chapter 4
  • number of clicks that a user has to make to get to any given page can be costly to their attention/patience
  • there are obvious clicks and ones you have to search for. people will click more, if the clicks are very obvious.
  • mindless is good, don't confuse the poor people

Chapter 6
  • give all levels of the site the same amount of thought and planning, don't just assume that the user will understand then navigation after 2 clicks
  • have all levels worked out before even thinking about the finer details

On Web Typography

A new CSS function has allowed us to use any font we want (technically speaking, not legally) on webpages. This brings up an issue, however, because many fonts were not made to be used on the web at all, and do not function well as such. So legibility is still key to designing on the web.
It might be a good method to start with the body text, as that is what the audience will be spending the most time looking at. Fonts that are readable at a small level is best. Personality is ok, but not a lot of it. Consider bumping up the x-height and the space between characters, this is something common in the web-based fonts.
One sans and one serif font is an easy way to pair. And fonts by the same designer tend to go well too. Play around with the weights and variations of the text too.

Web Design is 95% Typography and Reactions Articles

Text is a user interface
sometimes unornamental text on websites function very well
avoid overloading users, an consider shaping the text as a whole for the users convenience.

Things to think about:
  • The text lines (measure) are too long
  • 100% scalable is not a reader friendly solution: Don’t make me think, ok, but don’t make me resize my window either
  • Lack of whitespace
  • Lack of active whitespace
  • Linespacing is too narrow
  • The text blocks are not well aligned
  • Too many font sizes
  • Pictures are badly placed and disrupt the reading ease

  • Text-background color contrast
  • Lazy handling of titles and subtitles
  • Text sizes
  • Text blocks that are not split up into enough small, scannable, digestible parts
  • Indiscernible links. Visited and non visited links are not discerned
  • Text is not treated as an interface but as decoration
  • It’s not clear if the text is a navigational element, a link or plain text
  • Fancy navigations marking the center of attention (content is the center of attention, content deserves the most love from the designer)
Sites don't need to look the same on all platforms. There can be some variety, but emphasis in this world is that we try to make it functional on lots of different technological media.