Sunday, November 25, 2007

Retailer Observation

1. For the store observation, I went to Hollister, a clothing store aimed at teenagers that would like to be from Southern California.

2. A. The store was located in a mall. The front facade of the store was very dark, with a small porch in the front, and two entrances, one each for men and women. The porch was created to give the impression of a beach house or open-air house in warm weather.

B. The store was very loud, with what can most accurately be described as grunge-rock playing. There were several people attempting to converse, but the music made it difficult to hear.

C. The vast majority of the merchandise is laid out onto tables, with the rest along the walls and a few items on hangers. At the front of the store on the porch, there were two mannequins displaying male and female clothes. There were several sweatshirts or whatever the clothing was stacked on the tables, probably one or two of each size.

D. The floors were made out of worn wood, which added to the effort to portray the Southern California beach house image.

E. I thought that the signs in Hollister were terrible. There was a sign on the front of the store that was so small that it may well not have been there. There were very few on the inside of the store as well, and they were probably just the ones that are legally required (exits, changing rooms, etc). I found it very hard just to locate a price for some of the products.

F. The cashier area was the one part of the store that I thought was well laid out. There were several cash registers in the middle of the store, equidistant from the mens and womens areas.

3. Hollister without a doubt tries to project the image of the Southern California surfer or surfer girl. They even plaster it on their clothes (Hollister California ___ (fill in the blank)) Inside of the store, there are surfboards on display, as well as videos of surfers playing on the TVs in the store. The music playing was sort of grunge-rock/ surfari type music, which added to the image. However, I believe the pale, tanless suburbanites that wear their clothes around detract from the image they are trying to project.

4. I noticed numerous customers that seemed to be disoriented in the store, due to the lack of signs. It was also very dark, which did not help the customers navigate. Those shopping did seem to pick up and hold up items from the tables, which is something I think Underhill advocated. I observed multiple parents that entertained themselves with the cycle of surf videos while their children looked for clothes. Overall, I did not believe that Hollister was a consumer-friendly store.

5. I thought that it was interesting that Hollister was such a poorly laid-out store, yet their clothes are very popular with teenagers. I think this is due to the demographic to which Hollister markets: the older teenager that believes the SoCal lifestyle is ideal, yet most likely has never even tried to surf or visited California for more than a week. This led to the store being constructed as though it were some sort of summer home or cottage on the beach, with the appearance of a straw roof and a porch at the front of the store. The music playing was exactly what one would expect to be playing as people were driving to the beach to surf.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Packaging Waste

1. I think that the primary purpose of packaging has always been to protect the product. For instance, whether a laptop box is plastered with features or is completely empty, the inside always has styrofoam that protects the computer. Almost every product, whether $10,000 or $20, needs protection during shipping and the bumps it encounters during its retail life. This is the primary role that packaging plays. Recently, packaging has evolved into an anti-theft device as well. Often times, there is some sort of chip or tag that sets off an alarm when it crosses the barrier of the doors. When a product is purchased, this tag is deactivated and the product can leave freely. Packaging has been changed because of this. Early on, the tags were placed on the outside of packages, but relatively quickly had to be placed on the insides of tear-proof packages due to people removing the tags.

2. Both of these articles advocate the changing of packages to include less material in general, and if the packages must include the same amount of material, make it recyclable. Biodegradable materials can be incorporated into more packages- that way, if the packages aren't disposed of properly, at least the materials will work their way back into the environment quickly. Less plastic should be used in everything. It seems like half the packages and products out there would be just the same if paper, cardboard, etc. were used instead. I think that there should be some type of rebate for those that only use canvas bags or recycle a certain amount of waste. The deposit program has worked well for bottles and cans, and could be applied to recycling as well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


1. I think packaging is one of the biggest aspects in marketing. Even if people love the idea of a product on a commercial, if the packaging turns them off in real life it will not be successful. Often times, products are very similar, and one of their main distinguishing factors is the packaging. Packages must list some of the features, or at least components, of the products they contain; otherwise the packaging will be too boring and useless. Generally I try to choose products based on their feature set as well as compatibility with the things I already own, as opposed to something as trivial as packaging- unless it is something of small consequence, like a bag of chips. The biggest case I can think of packaging influencing my purchase is when I completely ruled out buying a printer because there was no actual picture of the printer on the box.

2. Had I been asked this question a year or two ago, I would have answered Apple. The boxes for the first through fourth generations of iPods were classic. The simple black cube, with a white apple on one side, iPod on another, and the stats on the bottom. No flashy gimmicks or anything superficial. The box unfolded multiple times, like a Christmas present, and at the core was the iPod. The cables and headphones were hidden in what was essentially a cupboard in the box, so all that was seen after the box was unfolded was the iPod. This was not only good packaging by itself, but was a perfect physical manifestation of the iPod and the Apple brand. Apple now simply ships the iPod in small plastic boxes, but I still haven't seen anything since in terms of packaging that rivals that design.

3. Definitely the worst usability issue with packaging is just getting the damn product out. It is the most frustrating feeling when all you want to do as an 8 year old kid is just play with your new stuff and it takes 45 minutes to get it out. All of the blister packaging, heat sealing, cardboard, plastic upon layer of plastic, twister ties, rubber bands...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mistakes in Web Design

1. This post is basically what we discussed Friday in class. The same design principles that can be applied to blenders can be, for the most part, applied to websites. Mapping, feedback, etc. can all be used to rate websites on their usability.

2. I think that the most important point is the first point. Visitors to websites, unless they are checking out a website made by their mom or something, are there for personal gain. I think it is good the author makes this apparent, because many websites are created with the designer in mind. From my personal perspective, I think that the point stressing easy navigation is important. I have encountered numerous websites where it is nearly impossible to get from one place to another.

3. -Easy, clearly labeled navigation buttons
-Smoothly designed visuals (don't have pictures in the middle of paragraphs)
-Use only pictures that are relevant (no fish injections)
-Make links visual by underlining or something similar
-Links to other sites with the same or helpful information
-Good contrast
-No frivolous information-get to the point

Monday, October 29, 2007


I think that the new Mac OS Leopard is a great example of good design. While there are hardly any problems or unintuitive actions in Tiger, Leopard has added many new features without taking away from the simplicity of use that Mac users have come to expect. This is an important aspect of design, the ease of use vs. the amount of features balance. If things are full of features, but the features are hard to access or counterintuitive to operate, why should they be included? The best designed products have the necessary features while being easy to operate.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Other Blogs

Ben's blog- I really liked the passage that he quoted from the site. It made perfect sense, but I had never seen it expressed in those words before. That is an idea that almost everyone has regarding design.

Naufal's Blog- I thought that it was interesting that the design he chose was that of a toy. Almost everything that we discuss in class has more of a grown-up nature to it, such as phones or computers, but design applies to everything, including toys.

What I found Interesting on the Sites and How They Related

Ben's Site- The Value Pyramid graphic. I thought that it did a good job of visualizing the features that are present in well designed products and also the processes that occur in successful companies. This site did a good job of expressing parts of the design process, which, in a way, are very similar to the steps of the writing process.

Naufal's Site- I liked the idea of the site in general, with the examples of many different types of bad design and how to fix them. Obviously this site relates to what we have talked about in class because each of these products was poorly designed; they have faults in terms of mapping, visibility or perhaps both of them.

Naufal's Blog

Ben's Blog

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Design Article

For the article assignment, I found a blog post about the design of a new Dell PC. It was about how the Dell, while obviously still a PC, was implementing better design elements and was making steps towards displaying Apple-esque design.

"Is Dell going to suddenly transform into Apple? No. But it has more of a design clue than the company did a year ago. For now, that counts as progress."

The blog was talking about the improvement of design and the shift towards more human-friendly design of the computer. This has several relevancies to our class, including mapping, etc. I also thought it was relevant because we talk about Apple all the time.