Good Design: Part 2 – The User Experience

by Eric Tsai

dsgdmg-chartNow let’s move into the second important element of good design: The User Experience (UX).

After the framework is laid out, the next step is to orchestrate a path to the user experience. Design variables and objectives can be predefined in many ways, but fundamentally it must connect with the user to form the optimal experience. It’s what makes you say words like, amazing, slick, beautiful, scary, sexy, fun, annoy, loud, obnoxious, or cheap. Words that attempts to describe the experience and just like a picture it’ll never be the exact description.

In order to deliver the best user experience, everything goes back to the framework of knowing who you’re targeting and if you know your market.  Obviously people have different views and opinions, which is why design can be very subjective from one person’s view to another.

For example, (continuing my car theme) someone that likes sports cars may or may not care about the 0-60 mph acceleration speed, he or she may simply enjoy the exterior look and interior design.  On the other end, that same person

Good Design: Part 1 – The Framework

by Eric Tsai

tatananoA designer is a problem solving artist, creative inventor, functional planner, and a forward thinking strategist. Look around you and you will find that every piece of your surrounding are the designed with a purpose, just different in economy of scale, usability and creativity.

What constitute good design? What are the elements of good design? I can go on and on with a long list of elements but in my opinion the short answer should be that good design creates positive synergy, serves its purpose and improves the overall experience. It has to communicate the intend, deliver with style, and it has to work!

From clothing to electronics, from cars to computers, design has a purpose and it’s not about redefining or innovation but to provide solutions. Design solutions can be anything such as a product, or a marketing message, a piece of music, a meal, or a building – they must bring together key objectives and deliver the end result to achieve the stated goal(s).  The challenging aspect of coming up with the solution is the framework that

Marketing Success: Strategic or Accidental?

by Eric Tsai

web20sfI just got a reminder email from O’Reilly Conferences to attend Web 2.0 event in San Francisco which I went last year while I was consulting for a web 2.0 product. I remember walking around the show, meeting people, and sitting in on the breakout sessions. The only thing I kept wondering is how are any of these people going to create a buzz for their product?

Here are some notes I took while at the expo:

The morning keynote sessions involves topics such as accessibilities, the web, browser and opening up a platform for developers to further the advancement of web2.0. Then I heard the conversation with Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Corp, co-author of Mosaic and Ning. He spoke about the internet experience specifically over the usability of browsers.

After that it was an interesting video of Jonathan Zittrain, who raised the question of security issues over the internet to developers on the web and mobile devices. Then Mozilla Firefox’s chairman spoke about one web and accessing the web via mobile should

Branding: Perception is Reality

by Eric Tsai

As I scan through my daily dose of Marketing Charts, I found some interesting data on how companies that lower the price of their products or services may risk damaging long-term brand perception.  According to “Big Price Cuts Linked to Long-Term Brand Damage” story, 64% of consumers assume that “the product is extremely popular,” if a brand does not lower its price during economic downturn and another 64% say they assume that “the product is already a good value.”

While some may argue that branding is overrated (which I disagree), the truth of the matter is perception is reality especially in marketing.  Branding is a form of marketing by reinforcing the idea or concept while creating awareness simultaneously to generate brand recognition in the minds of the consumers.   That acknowledgment of a brand often gets associated with the impression resulting in some form of emotional driver that leads to curiosity, desire, and interest.  Obviously if you do a good job on branding, you’ll create positive emotions just like creating buzz so you appear as if you’re “everywhere.”  However; good publicity

Responsible and Sustainable Designs

by Eric Tsai

technology-entertainment-design-ted-logo-bgAs a member of TED community, I am constantly inspired by the ideas and concepts from all the individual TEDTalks, themes and TED Blog posts. It’s got great resources, excellent ideas from different perspectives from global key opinion leaders.

Recently I’ve been watching some of the Architectural Inspiration videos and as a result I found new respect in the creative process that goes into architecture. Especially Cameron Sinclair’s Talk on Open-source architecture to house the world.

I immediately thought of a television episode that I watched awhile back on the San Francisco Federal “green” building by Thom Mayne. The building was created with many energy saving features in mind and encourage wellness for the occupants working in the building.

For example, the cafe was placed outside of the main building to encourage employees to walk outside the building to stop by for food and the elevators are designed to have stops on every third floor so there will always be some walking require at some point. The buildings is positioned perfectly with massive windows allowing optimal usage of sunlight into the

The New Design Focus – Eco Spirit

by Eric Tsai

c77dd_logoI remember when I was a kid my family used to recycle bottles and cans all the time and my mom would take us to the local grocery store monthly to the ‘recycle machine’ for some pocket change.  Back then I always felt that money was the incentive that drove people to recycle even though it’s not going to make anyone rich doing it.  It just seems like the right thing to do especially in the early 90s but it was not yet a way of life, it was just recycle.

After Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and President Obama’s focus on alternative energy and sustainability, there has been a steady increase in both awareness and momentum in the environmental friendly design category.   Having done product design previously I’ve came across some real creative concepts being developed in the area of sustainability and eco friendly space.

One of my favorite weekly newsletter/ blog, DesignDirectory has some real cool designs and innovative concepts.   Since last year I’ve started thinking about creating more ‘green’ designs and it can be as clever as the  biodegradable

Left Business, Right Marketing

by Eric Tsai

left-and-right-brainDan Schawbel’s interview with Laura Ries reminded me of my own constant struggle between left and right brain. It’s true that left is more logical and analytical and right is visual and holistic.

I started out my career as a right brainer, always after creating visuals, communication designs, photography and art. I never thought I could fit or do well in a corporate environment until I was promoted to be part of a executive management team years ago.

During that time, I rapidly evolved into an extreme left brainer knowing I had to deliver the numbers and create value for the company.  Naturally, I empowered my team and even hired people to fill in my design duties so I can focus on leading the team. That was the first time I sat on the other side of the meeting table facing my design team, I was perceived as the corporate man.

Ultimately my experience as part of the management team and as part of the marketing/design team helped my left and right brain to communicate with each other. The

Building Brand Trust with Design

by Eric Tsai

iPod ShuffleToday I came across John Gerzema’s article on The Trust Virus outlining the correlation between trust and brands. It mentioned the current fear and uncertainty in this recession is due to the lack of trust, thus our current economic meltdown was accelerated by the distrust in the failed banks, unregulated financial system, Bernie Madoff, and unproductive automakers.

I believe emotion trumps logic and trust is comfort (an emotion) but needs facts to support that logic. This is why design always has a function, a goal, a need to earn that trust.

The perfect example would be Apple, which ironically released its latest iPod shuffle today with half the size of the last generation but with twice the capacity.  You can always expect something new and uniquely different,  Steve Jobs never fails to fuel the brand with brand awareness, effective marketing and yes, trust – trust that Apple will deliver a sexy product with style and functionality.

Apple focuses on the ultimate user experience to build their brand equity by creating products that their customers don’t even know they

Working the Press

by Eric Tsai

I’ve been stylizing my new template working the php and css.  WordPress is pretty amazing consider how everyone uses it as either a basic blog tool or a full featured website with CMS.

Come to think of it when I started web development in early 2001 having a CMS was such a big deal and I was manually updating my blog in html regularly.  I hope the progression of tools will enable for more creative freedom and more focus driven on quality.