Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Assignment 5


During the first semester, our assignments were mainly based on secondary research. Now we are focusing on primary research methods and this assignment required us to develop a proposal for how we might use the methods that we learnt this semester to take our research further in the topic that we explored in the first semester.

The topic that I chose to investigate in semester one was "How do social networking sites act as a major connector to designers". I am going to look further into this topic and explore the different methods which I have been using this semester in order to investigate this topic further. I will look into the use of interviewing, visual experiments, and observation and will explore what system will work best.

I chose to write about social networking sites because not only do I use them, I find the controversial argument of whether they do more damage than good interesting. I am also interested in other people's opinion's and reasons to why they use social networking sites.

I have looked at various different journals and books about this topic including; "The networking survival guide: get the success you want by tapping into the people you know" by Diane C. Darling, "The Virtual Community" by Howard Rheingold, and "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. "The networking survival guide: get the success you want by tapping into the people you know" is about how to make the most of everyday physical networking and gives tips on how to advance on one's own networking techniques. Rheingold's "The Virtual Community" is a book which tours the "virtual community" of online networking and also discusses social networking in detail showing alot of evidence and experiences. Both texts agree that networking, being it virtual or physical is very important to everyone in order to be successful so therefore helping designers in there careers. Another source that I have looked at is a social networking site itself, "Twitter". I have been looking at a young female artist called Johanna Basford who uses this site to gain publicity. Over a 24hour period she created an interactive and hand drawn illustration which was created through other "Tweeters" sending suggestions to her to finally produce a super sized hand drawn black and white illustration. Some of Basford's clients include The Victorian and Albert Museum, The Body Shop, and DKNY. This is a good example of how designer's can take advantage of social networking sites to help them succeed. Not only is Basford connecting with other designers and people from a similar profession but she is also connecting with the public and getting a chance to advertise her work for free on the internet.

After retrieving this secondary research, I would like to go ahead and gain some primary research to learn more about public opinions and for what reasons people use social networking sites. I would like to know if people think that social networking sites help designers connect with the rest of the world. To do this I would start by looking at the methods which I have been taught this semester and these are observation, visual experimentation and interviewing. To achieve the best results I would start by conducting an interview. I would target a group of designers and then ask them a set of semi-structured questions which would help me with my research. The group of designers that i would interview would have to be different ages, genders and from different backgrounds so that my results were not biased. I would ask a set of questions that were not straight to the point but subtle which would gently prompt the interviewee to give me the answer that I am looking for. I think that I would also conduct a public survey to gain an insight to the public opinion's on social networking. The questions that I would ask in this interview would be about social networking affecting the general public and not so much a specific group such as designers because I would like to see the results for designers and the public. I could also conduct a survey which would also allow me to collect accurate and fast information. However a survey may not achieve the best results as many people might give false answers for quickness or perhaps just to protect information about their private life as they feel put on the spot because these questions are being thrown at them from nowhere. If the interviewee is asked a series of semi-structured questions then I think that they will then give you more information as you are engaging back with them and it becomes some sort of conversation.

Another way to gain primary research would be to observe people in a computer suite and see if they use social networking sites. However I do not believe that this would be the most effective and correct way to find out this information. Aswell as invading these people's privacy, it would not help me to answer questions such as "Is this networking site helping this person in their career?" or "what does this person use this site for?". Alot of people would obviously not feel comfortable with someone watching over their computer screen observing what they are doing and that is why I have decided to use interviewing as the method that I would use if I was to take this further. Interviewing would give me all the information that I would need on this subject and would enable me to gain a deeper understanding of the people that use these sites. A problem that may arise in interviewing would be that people would not answer honestly or would not feel comfortable answering a series of questions about there private life's to a stranger. A way to work around this as I previously said would be to ask strategically worded questions which are not straight to the point because in that way the interviewee would feel more at ease and they are answering the question for you rather than you almost telling them what to say.

To conclude if I was going to look further into the topic of "How do social networking sites act as a major connector to designers" then I would gather secondary research on this topic and to do this I would use interviewing as the chosen method as it helps me to collect all the information that I need. This would also enable me to acquire accurate information quickly.


For this part of the assignment I will write a short proposal on how I could use the methods that I have used in both semester 1 and 2 if I had to re-do one of my studio projects. The project that I have chosen is the "Juteopolis" project from the first semester. This was a group project and the brief was to design a exhibition space for the DCA which was based on "Juteopolis", the name Dundee was given in the peak of the Jute production. The purpose of this was to inform the public about Dundee and it's history within the Jute industry.

When we first started this project alot of the research that we gathered was from Verdant Works which is an old Dundee Jute mill which has been conserved and is now a Jute museum. More of our research was from Dundee's library and also the university library. However now after completing assignments on primary and secondary researching methods I can see that if we had to do this project again we would be able to collect accurate information and lots more of it quickly. I would start this by using interviewing techniques to interview a number of different people.

The first of the interviewee would be the general public. To do this I would brainstorm ideas and come up with questions which I could ask people on the street to find out what they understood about Dundee and the Jute industry. I would try and target each generation to see how each generation's knowledge differs. The older generation would be likely to know more about this than the younger generation. However it would be interesting to see how our exhibition would need to educate the public. I would need to make sure that my questions were general and were in no way going to offend anyone. I think if our group had this knowledge prior to doing this studio project then we would possibly created a better exhibition and if not then we would have at least be far more knowledgeable about the subject. I think it is important to know as much as you can about the client to enable you to design the best possible design for them.

The next of the interviewee would be the people who currently work at the Verdant Works. Although we did get to speak to them I think it would be more effective if we could have had private interviews to gain as much knowledge as we possibly could. It would have been useful to brainstorm and plan a set of structured or semi-structured questions to enable us to retrieve as much useful information as possible. Getting to interview an exhibition designer could have also proved very useful and interesting. I would have been able to find out what types of exhibitions are successful and what techniques are most effective. Another method that would be very useful would be to observe a variety of different people in an exhibition to see what parts they find the most interesting and also to see what parts of the exhibition they spent the most time at. I would observe a group of people of all different ages for example adults, the elderly and school children. It would have been very beneficial to see who spent the most amount of time at different stages of the exhibition and also to see what catches different age groups attention most. I would also set up my own experiments and small exhibitions in order to see what the different people thought of my designs. It would also be useful to try different methods out before completing my final exhibition. I could have also conducted a survey or asked people a set of structured questions as this would have been very useful to me to find out what the client would prefer rather than assuming.

During our first semester one of the things that we were working on was how to collect secondary information. If I had used this knowledge in this studio project then I would have alot more research to help me. If we had used the library's cross search then I would have been able to collect more books and journals about Dundee and the Jute industry. It would have broaden my knowledge on the topic therefore allowing me to possibly create a better design.

Learning about secondary and primary research has definitely been worthwhile and will help me in future projects. I now understand that through the use of experiments, observation, interviewing, reading journals, magazines and books that I can now gain an enormous amount of research to help me with my future projects whether it being for design studies or the studio. Using these methods will help me understand the clients needs and their story which will enable me to design the best possible design for them.


Darling, Diana C, (April 2003) The Networking Survival Guide: Get The Success You Want By Tapping Into The People You Know, The McGraw Hill Companies

Gladwell, Malcolm, (2000) The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference, Little Brown

Rheingold, Howard, (1994) The Virtual Community, Harper Collins


Johanna Basford




Monday, 29 March 2010

Assignment 4B & C

For this interview stage I chose 4 different individuals and asked them a series of semi-structured questions which would help my understanding on how magazines influence people's ideas of design and taste. The questions that I asked helped me to gain a deeper knowledge of what influences people's decisions and ideas and why. The subjects that I chose to interview were of different genders, ages, and backgrounds so therefore the outcome of this assignment should not be biased. The series of questions that I asked my subjects are:

1. What magazines do you read?

2. Where do you Read magazines?

3. How often do you watch television or see adverts?

4. Can you think of a particular advertisement being from a magazine or the TV that sticks in your head? If so why?

5. Do you have a favourite brand or shop? If so is this advertised allot in magazines or television?

6. Is fashion important to you?

7. Do you own any product which has had a major impact on your life?

8. What was your last major purchase? Did anything have an influence on you buying this product?

9. Do you have a favourite designer? Are they successful?

The first of my interviewee was a young female design student. Being a young design student fashion and the way she looks is very important to her and I found out more about this after her answering my series of questions. She regularly buys fashion and style magazines and this is a weekly thing. Reading these magazines seemed to be almost part of her weekly routine as she reads them for pleasure in her house. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements whether it being from the television or magazines and this has had an effect on her as she watches televisions for around 5 hours a day and the advert that sticks in her head most is the television advert for one of the fashion magazines that she reads. Her latest purchase was 2 days ago and that was some tops and a necklace which she seen in a magazine. Her loyalty to buying fashionable and specific brands was clear as she often buys from the same shops, probably because these shops' items are advertised regularly in magazines. Alot of the clothes that she buys are modelled on celebrities so being successful could reflect her view on fashion and looking good. It seems that both television and magazines are highly influential on her decisions and tastes in fashion and design.

My second subject was a female primary teacher. She admitted that she is not fashionable because it is not at the top of her priority list. Her main focus is to look after her family and home. She rarely reads magazines but when she does it's mainly ones which are about cooking or the home. She does however read alot of educational newspapers which are obviously about current affairs and the worlds news. When she does buy something new, it's not something that she has seen advertised, just purely bought as a spur of the moment thing. She does watch about 2-3 hours of television a day so she is exposed to advertising but is not affected by them. The brands that she buys are not ones that she has seen advertised but are ones that she has bought for years and if not its one that she's heard a friend recommend.

My third interviewee, a male college student stated that he thinks that he is relatively fashionable and his highly influenced by advertisements. The only magazines that he buys are motoring ones, so he is not highly influenced by adverts in these magazines. The advertisements that he sees are on billboards and television adverts. He does have a favourite brand but that is only because he likes and trusts this brand so is therefore loyal to it. He watches about 3-4hours of television a day so is exposed to advertisements frequently.

My final interviewee is a young male landscape gardener. In his opinion he is fashionable but does not buy any magazines. Neither does he watch much TV, (around an hour a day) so he is not exposed to influential advertisements. However he does do alot of Internet shopping so this is where he see the advertisements that do influence him. He does have his favourite brands and shops but this is only because he has shopped there for years and is loyal to them. His last purchase was a top that he bought in a shop but had seen it advertised on the Internet. This conveys that advertising is everywhere we look even if it's not just in magazines.

After completing this assignment and discussing it I found that magazines are not the only influential form of advertising, as television and the Internet both seem to be just as powerful and if not more. It is obvious to see that the older generation have different priorities for instance the 1st interviewee saves her money for buying new fashionable clothes but the 2nd interviewee will save money for family holidays so it very much selfless because she has different priorities. The older generation understand the value of things and this is reflected in the things that they read like educational newspapers. I found that the younger generation watch alot more television so they are therefore exposed to more visual advertisements. I found that to some extent everyone is brand loyal whether it being that they buy weekly or every 6 months, they still stick with the same brand and this is usually because the brands that they like are well advertised or have a good reputation. One of my questions, (What was your last major purchase and did advertisements influence your decision to buy this?) showed that technological items such as mobile phones, cars, and ipods had the biggest impact on these peoples lives. These are all items which are constantly successfully advertised in magazines, newspapers, television and the Internet.

To conclude i have found that magazines reflect the readers taste and also successfully advertise and sell items which are regarded as "in" or fashionable and this is down to various different reasons for example the models they use, the colours and there front covers. Some readers will not consider price or value for money but will only consider what the magazine and critics have said about the product. In my opinion advertising on the Internet, billboards and television are more influential than magazines as they are viewed more often than magazines, mainly because they are usually free to view.

Assignment 4a

For this assignment we were asked to choose one particular topic to investigate and conduct a series of interviews on 3 or four subjects who we did not know. The question that I chose to investigate is "How do magazines influence people's ideas of design and taste?". I chose this subject because I'm interested in advertising techniques and their effects and influences on people of all ages. I thought that this would be an interesting subject to look into as all magazines are full with advertisements and I wanted to see what effect this had on readers. I began this assignment by drawing up a mindmap which consisted of magazine types, advertising, where do people read magazines and why, and finally why do people buy magazines.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Assignment 3

In this assignment we were asked to observe and record how people behave and interact and try and detect any unspoken etiquette and rules. Obviously observation is a huge part of design but we often are oblivious to the way that people interact with design and the unspoken rules and regulations in society that are formed by design. As I'm from an Island I decided that the ferry would be an interesting place to do this assignment. I'm from the Isle of Bute so it's only a brief 30minute crossing but this allowed plenty of time to observe the behaviour of the passengers.

There are the various different categories of people that travel on the ferry; the commuters, the students, the tourists and the locals usually heading or coming back from a day's shopping in Glasgow. As I am a regular passenger on the ferries I am well aware of the unspoken rules and regulations but thought it would be interesting to record other passenger's behaviour. There are some signs which guide passengers on their journey but it's interesting to see people who have obviously never been on the ferry before as they are not quite sure where to sit and what usual drill is so they often observe people who do know what to do.

Before boarding the ferry you must buy your ticket in the ticket office then sit in the waiting room and wait to board the ferry. This in itself was interesting as it's obvious who the locals are as they are the ones who know when to make their way to the gangway and where to wait in order of being the first on board. Tourists who didn't know what to do looked like they followed on behind the locals however there was some signage to help the users for example signs saying please Que this side and please be ready to board 5 minutes before departure time. There was no particular order of the people boarding the ferry apart from whoever was at the gate first and the elderly people. There were no un-written rules about who got on first but there was a written rule about letting the passengers off the ferry before getting on it.

Once boarded the ferry it was obvious to see that some of the regular passengers have their favorite seats so it was a mad rush for them to race the rest of the passengers to their preffered spots. I for instance always have the same seat that I prefer to sit in as it has an amazing view but is also one of the comfiest on the ferry and is close to one of the televisions so I can watch the news if I want to. It was also obvious to spot the regular passengers as they communicated with the staff on the ferry. One thing that i noticed about tourists was that when they first came onto the ferry the first thing they done was look about at the views then went to the cafe to get a drink then would go to find a seat but all the seats would be taken whereas the regulars went straight to get a seat and then when everyone was settled they would then go and get their coffees so that they had a guaranteed seat.
During the crossing many people do various different things, for instance when I'm on the ferry on a Monday morning some of the early commuters are doing work and preparation for the week ahead and I've also noticed one regular female commuter does her hair and make-up on the ferry. I also noticed that the commuters come onto the ferry and sit in little groups with other people who they travel with every day so it's quite a sociable journey as most people are sitting with people they know chatting away even if it is only 6.30am. This made it quite obvious to see who was a regular passenger n who wasn't. On a Friday when I get on the ferry usually about 5pm most passengers are relaxing and having a glass of wine or a beer. I've also noticed that there is quite often a young group of guys or girls who are not from the island that are going to Rothesay for the weekend and there usually having a few drinks and having fun on the boat preparing for their drink fuelled weekend. On a Friday there was alsi lots of students coming back from a week at college or university and they just sat chatting or having a drink.There was no awkwardness between the locals and tourists as the locals are often too busy to bother about what the tourists are doing. Another thing that made it easy to spot the local islanders was that they would often see someone they knew and go and talk with them for ten minutes then go back to their seats. So there are no rules about getting up and changing seats or walking about because it is a very open seating area.
On departing from the boat the locals know when to get up and wait at the door so they can get off the boat before the crowd so the locals seen them getting up and followed. Obviously uncertain of when to actually get up and head to the door as there is no voice-overs or mentions of when to get up and go to the door so in most cases its just a matter of following the people who look like they know. The ferry journey is not quiet or boring like a train or bus journey, it is very sociable and enjoyable.
In conclusion I found this assignment interesting as we often don't notice things like peoples behaviour and unspoken rules in society but when you pay attention and observe, then you gain a deeper understanding into everyday life of certain people and their mannerisms.