Consistant Products

Consistent Products

Week 10 – Learning Portfolio item 1&2 – Q2

PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360 controllers

Figure 1. Playstation3 Controller - (Reisinger, D. 2010)

When you walk into a modern, family home these days one of the things you will notice is a games console. Whether you are  a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or even Wii, odds are there’s one in every home. However, these consoles follow a simple design principle; Consistency. The controller is the most important tool for a gamer, therefore learnability has to be quick and the usability has to be easy. This is certainly the case with Playstation and Xbox 360 controllers as design “affects the placement of navigation buttons, the way media controls such s start and stop buttons work”  (DiMarco, J. 2010). Meaning that the designs must be similar for people to use them without any confusion. 

Figure 2. Xbox 360 Controller - (Green, M. 2008)

These controllers follow the Aesthetic/Functional forms of consistency. The designs of these controllers are aesthetically similar. Both controllers have two distinct, protruding grips which are bridged together by the main component of the controller which has the home, start and select buttons. Both controllers have two toggle sticks for in game coordination. But Sony (Playstation 3) has chosen a more compacted look for the joysticks and placed them together just below the main component. Whereas, Microsoft (Xbox  360) has decided on a more spread out approach, slightly  intersecting the toggle sticks by the directional pad. PlayStation also has a directional pad, which is built into the left side of the controller. Similarly, the R1,2 and L1,2 functionality buttons are placed in exactly the same position for both controllers.

What makes these controllers functionally consistent is the similarity of the action buttons. Playstation has distinguished the different buttons by a colour and uniquely by shapes used as symbols. Xbox has done something similar, using a colour coding system, but their design is slightly different by the use of letters for symbolisation instead of shapes. The colour systems are also closely the same with Microsoft opting for a Yellow colour on the Y instead of the Pink used for a Square by Sony.

Televisions

Figure 3. Samsung - led TV series - (Barker, S. 2009)

A Television is arguably the most important object in a household. It provides entertainment, information and now the internet, but these TVs are designed consistently with previous generations of TV models so the user can easily learn how to use it. Also, different companies always want to attract people to their brand. This has created  diversity in different models of Television but the design has always stayed constant from the birth of TV to modern day. Yes, we have Blu Ray, 3D and the newer the TV the thinner it is, but this too is a consistent design principle, used ensure that people will not be drawn away from their model because it looks hard to use.

Source 4. Old Television - (Turner, A. 2009)

In my house, we have a Samsung 42″ plasma television. We also have  a old Sony TV. The differences between these models are subtle but still Aesthetically consistent. Both models still use the rectangle shaped design which has become the common feature of a TV design. However, my Samsung has been designed in a more modernistic approach as the TV rim around the screen is  thinner and much more elegant looking than the thick rim of my Sony. However, this design feature has been extracted from previous models and modernised. My Television is also very large, whereas my Samsung is thin and flat screened. This too has been a design feature that has been taken into consideration to contend with advancing technology.

TVs have also been designed with functional consistency so when people buy a new TV they are not confronted with different buttons and options which they have to get used to, same for my two TVs. Both have on,volume buttons etc However, Samsung has used touch sensitive buttons whereas as the Sony has used the old fashioned push buttons. This has been upgraded to fit with the modernistic feel of the 21st Century.

Smart Phones

Figure 5. iPhone 4 - (2011)

A mobile phone was once the pinnacle of modern technology. It removed the wired cord and allowed conversations on the go but in the last decade mobile phones have become smaller, hand held computers. They now have internet access, games, texting and come in smaller, more concise sizes. However, all these phones have something in common; consistency.

Mobile phone interfaces are now all internally consistent. Whether you own an LG, iPhone or even Blackberry, the similarities in these interfaces are due to companies attempting to attract people to their product by allowing people to transfer their learnability about a device. Most mobile phone interfaces consist of icons, displayed on a home screen(s). These are usually known as apps and are displayed in vertical rows. Usually a mobile phone interface has 9 or 8 apps. However, some mobile phone companies have used this layout and these icons on the home screen then allow you to access your applications. This not only makes the home screen look tidy but allows more room for apps on a single “page”.

Figure 6. Blackberry Bold - (Staff, 2008)

Internal consistency has been used to allow people to transfer their learnability from one type of mobile phone to another. In this way, when people want to buy another mobile phone they are not met with the typical confusion of a device they have never used people. Their usability of the device is enhanced because they have preset knowledge on the basic use of icons, apps and layout. This makes maneuvering around the interface easier and convenient. This leads to the access of applications through the home screen. These applications can be downloaded from the internet straight onto a mobile phone. These apps are now consistently displayed on mobile phones, so the usability of mobile phones also tune into the user’s personal preference.

Competition within these companies is well known, especially when it concerns mobile phones which has become a huge industry. Companies are always looking to attract people and using consistent designs from more successful companies is the answer.

Reference List

DiMarco, J. (2010). Digital Design for Print and Web: An Introduction to Theory, Principles, and Techniques. Design: Definition and Devices (pp. 27 – 59). John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey

 Playstation3 Controller. (2010). In Sony: Counterfeit controllers can explode. [Digital Image] Retrieved June 2, 2011 from http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20017438-17.html

 Xbox 360 Controller. (2008). In Revised Xbox 360 Controller Remains International Exclusive. [Digital Image] Retrieved June 2, 2011 from http://www.pressthebuttons.com/2008/08/revised-xbox-36.html

 Samsung – led TV series. (2009). In Samsung  LED TV Range. [Digital Image] Retrieved June 2, 2011 from http://www.zath.co.uk/samsung-led-tvs-launched/

 Old Television. (2009). In Australian retailers must help to tackle eWaste. [Digital Image]. Retrieved  June 2, 2011 from http://blogs.watoday.com.au/digital-life/gadgetsonthego/2009/11/06/australianreta.html

iPhone 4. (2009). In iPhone 4. [Digital Image]. Retrieved June 2, 2011 from http://www.tegoehchuzy.com/iphone-4.html

Blackberry Bold. (2008). In RIM Blackberry Bold. [Digital Image]. Retrieved June 2, 2011 from http://hypebeast.com/2008/05/rim-blackberry-bold/

Advertisements

The Design Flow: Consistency

The Design Flow: Consistency

Week 9 – Learning Portfolio item 1 – Q1

Consistency is when “Systems are more usable and learnable when similar parts are expressed in similar ways” (Lidwell, W. 2003) Meaning that if something is consistent then it is easier for people to use. However, this is usually on behalf of the designer, because when a designer changes their design, they expect that the “resulting design will be consistent with the beginning design” (Braha, D. Maimon, Z. O. 1998) There are four types on consistency: Aesthetic, Functional, Internal and External.

Companies use Aesthetic design to create recognition and association through a consistent experience (DiMarco, J. 2010. pp. 27 – 59).  A corporate identity is created through design elements such as colour, text, logo’s etc. This creates an association between companies and people. Functional consistency is similar because the way certain designs are instantly recognised by people .However, functional consistency is not just for corporate identity. It “affects the placement of navigation buttons, the way media controls such as start and stop buttons work”  (DiMarco, J. 2010). Functionally consistent designs enable people to transfer their learnability about a device because the functions are universally known such as the play and pause buttons on an mp3 player. The product may be released by different companies but the design is consistent because it enhances people’s usability.

However, internal and external consistency are slightly different. Internal consistency is when certain elements within a system are consistent. This creates trust in people because it shows that the system has been designed specifically for their purposes. This is mainly used in website design because websites need to be easy to move around and use, allowing your “designs to develop and internal consistency makes it easier for your customers to understand” (Administrator, 2010). External consistency is consistency within an environment.

External consistency can be  “The use of similar terminology and functional attributes across platforms or commonly used interfaces. An example here is a ‘back’ button and the Windows ‘minimise’, ‘maximise’ and ‘close’ buttons which are utilised in popularly used interfaces such as ‘Internet Explorer’. (Chambers, M. 2006).

Reference List

DiMarco, J. (2010). Digital Design for Print and Web: An Introduction to Theory, Principles, and Techniques. Design: Defintion and Devices.(pp. 27 – 59) New Jersey, United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Administrator, (2011, September 28 ). Principles of Design. [Web log Post] Retrieved from http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/pages/principles-of-design.aspx

Chambers, M. (2006) Design Rules, Principles and Standards. Retrieved from http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/148371/programming/design_rules_principles_and_standards.html

Lidwell, W. Holden, K. Butler, J. (2010)Universal Principles of Design: 125 ways to enchance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design. (2nd Ed). Rockport Publishers, Inc. Beverly. Massachusetts.

Braha, D. Maimon , Z. O. (1998) A mathematical theory of design: foundations, algorithms, and applicatons. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.