New Zealand 2015

I had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand back in October last year and have only now got round to uploading my video diary of my time there. I’ve been to New Zealand a few times now, both times before being when I was a lot younger and joined by family. This time was different and I was able to see a lot more of the country. My friend Louisa joined me, and we split the time we had there between both islands.

The majority of our holiday was spent in a van we called Terry, driving around the South Island eating noodles and porridge. That sounds terrible really, but it was honestly fun. We saw and did some incredible things, including boat tours, glowworms, Lord of the Rings locations, rivers, bunji jumping, zorbing, kea birds, lakes, art, lugeing, The Remarkables and various other mountain ranges, Maori culture experiences and mueseum after mueseum. The highlight for me was visiting Milford Sound and kayaking in Harrison Cove. We filled our bottles with fresh Harrison River water and heard some interesting stories about moose. You’ll notice theres literally about 3 seconds of footage of us on the water, but this was because we only had a low charged go pro with us at the time! I was way too scared to take my camera out considering this was my first kayaking experience.

I took a total of 900+ videos whilst there, and below is an attempt to arrange it into something worth watching. I’ve always wanted to try doing this whenever I’ve been on holiday in the past, so I’m quite pleased that I stuck with it and have something to show at the end! I made this for Louisa and I to remember our experience, but please enjoy.

Degree Show weekend.

Time to start blogging again.

This weekend was the opening of DJCAD’s Degree show! It felt a bit weird not having to explain something or think about how our own show would look. It’s even weirder to think that I was in the exact same position only a year ago. Although a lot has changed, walking back into that room with the same people felt no different. However, it was such a relief being able to enjoy it without the added pressure of presenting myself to others. The projects were really good this year too.

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(@CassieCMorrison was actually right. Finlay missed an ‘r’)

The room itself was really well done. I think my favourite part was the wall of comments. I’m a sucker for things pinned to walls with bulldog clips  (Pinterest’s fault). I only wish I had thought to take a picture of the whole thing, but unfortunately I was too busy looking around. The wall at the other entrance was nicely done too, a completely different way of showing the progress of projects without the cabinets we had. I’ll try to remember to take photos when I visit again mid week, and actually take note of projects I found interesting. At the moment I don’t think I would be able to do them justice!

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We went back to have a look on Saturday as the opening was very busy, but spent most of our time wandering through Graphics, Time based Art and Jewellery. I’m not usually one for jewellery design if I’m completely honest, but I actually liked a lot of the stuff being shown this year. Time Based art was like visiting a science museum and art gallery all in one. We got some groovy photos of us playing with some of the projects.

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And Finally on Saturday I had rod staying with me, so after our second tour of the show we went for a late lunch at the Meat House and an evening showing of Godzilla at the DCA. It was everything I had hoped for, perfect monster movie after the disappointment that was Pacific Rim.

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Glance.

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A preview of my finished prototype ‘Glance’

I’ve always been secretly afraid of how the world is changing it’s reaction to reading. It’s become fairly common knowledge that physical books are slowly being edged aside in favour of e-readers like Kindle and the internet.
I’m a keen reader and a lover of the traditional book store environment, so I decided to base my project on trying to protect and enhance an experience I was already fond of.
This was quite a wide topic for me and I quickly had to narrow down what it was I wanted to focus on. It ended up being the physical browsing and excitement of discovery that lead me to my brief.

WATERSTONES:
My main source of inspiration in this project has been my spontaneous trips to Waterstones. A lot of the design decisions I made towards the direction of my project came from the thoughts I had as I wandered around the store. It made sense to use Waterstones as a target client in the end because I based most of the design decisions around how they work as a company. I think I really needed that in the end, as it helped me design more realistic solutions.

In a society where physical spaces are actively competing against an expanding online shopping experience, it is hard for companies on the high street to maintain the same sales.
Bookshops in particular are slowly becoming redundant as major online companies are providing a faster, cheaper and more convenient alternative to buying books in store. Glance aims to bring part of that online community in store and create a richer browser experience for customers. By linking the online and the physical it is possible to give books more of a presence in store.

Interface Progression

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I always wanted a segment of the book to be visible because I felt the users needed that visual connection between the physical and the digital. This feature still remains, but it has changed from a vertical to horizontal layout. There were many design flaws with the vertical version, all related to readability. I liked the vertical version because it had a good connection to the way in which we read, Ie, something about the strip you could see was reminiscent of a book spine, but ultimately usability is the main factor here and something had to be sacrificed.

However, I like the way the new version looks. I changed the colour from pink to orange. The pink ended up giving of the wrong vibe and it was described as ‘girly’. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t the tone I was going for.

The navigation required a lot more thought than I originally planned. The three buttons I had in the first version weren’t the most useful or visually appealing way to show what I want.
I ended up ditching these and considering how people would be able to re-scan the books in store. I have made the main feature of the app the large ‘g’ button at the bottom of the page, which alerts the user to where they are in the app, how to get back and creates a sense of continuity in it’s architecture.

I think coming up with a name helped me move forward on the branding of the app overall, which in turn influenced how it functioned.

Just Keep Scanning

My app can finally scan things! I’ve been working away on the html side of things, getting it to show reviews/look better, that I’ve not managed to get it doing the main functionality which is scanning barcodes. I’ve mentioned before that I’m ditching the QR codes in favour of barcodes mainly because books already have isbn barcodes which I can use.

I’ve been using Zbar, which I’ve had working to a point for a while. I originally tried Redlaser, but I couldn’t quite get it to work. Zbar was really easy to get working as it turns out, but the trouble lay with getting it to direct to a url. However, I got a little help getting the barcode to open and it is now working. In xcode I could link it to a webview, which managed to bypass the problems I was having with browser bars.

All in all it was really satisfying to be able to scan a book and see my web app appear. I still have to make it look nice and link up all the barcodes to their book, but I’m really happy it’s scanning.

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Oh April..

Not long now until everything is due to be finished. I can’t say I’m close to having most things done, but I’m certainly nearer.

Last week I paid a visit to Waterstones to discuss borrowing some books from them for the degree show. The manager was more than happy to help me in any way, but in the end I decided to purchase the books instead of borrow them. I had a few reasons for this, most of which came down to convenience. The manager told me he could potentially only lend me the books for the shortest possible time, ie the week of the degree show, which would mean I would have no books to work with up until then. I need the books to be present so that I can grab their barcode numbers, as it now seems that I’ll be using barcodes instead of QR codes. I also needed to see them all laid out, know which ones I could get and how much room they would take up. New Designers in July was also something I wanted to take into consideration, as I doubted Waterstones would let me take 10 books of theirs down to London for a week. In the end I spent a fair bit of money on it, but I think it will be worth it in the end. Seeing the books lined up and finally in an order which would be a fair represenation of a shelf is a nice feeling. I chose the classics because I think as a genre they’re the less judged or stereotyped. If I had chosen the horror section I think there would have been an entirely different response to the project.

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SOME OTHER DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS:

1. My entire thought process has been founded by my views on Waterstones. This includes their stores layout, atmosphere, look and decisions. For my final piece I’m going to try to use those thoughts and allow the final thing to resemble a shelf in Waterstones as closely as I can.

My battle has been to produce a shelf that will be able to house all my electronics/arduino. The last time I showed it on here it was looking a bit like a little box, but after the feedback I received from my mark ii hand in I’ve decided to make a traditional shelf that will be put on the wall, not a plinth. So far this is proving to be more difficult than I had planned, but hopefully it will all come together in the next 1-2 weeks.

2. I’ve changed the design of my app due to the occasional piece of feedback I’ve been given and because I was never sure about it. I had a look at some other apps on the market(not necessarily for books) and am in the process of changing that. So far it’s looking a lot better.