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Hinton uses Chapter 21: Narrative and Situations to point out that everyone comes from very different backgrounds that affect the way they view the outside world. This could impact their perception of a designed environment. "As much as we'd like to think that we can completely control the experience and reset the users' expectations, we can't fully control their narrative" [1]. Instead, designers are encouraged to see things from multiple points of view to appeal to a larger audience, rather than sticking to their own personal narrative. Hinton stresses the importance of changing the environment to meet the people, rather than trying to change the situations of each individual to fit into the environment.

People Make Sense Through StoriesEdit

In this section, Hinton uses scientific data about human thought and behavior to explain how humans experience and perceive the environments around them. It is human nature to create story-lines for the events that occur so that they can be recalled and reflected upon later. "Those points of view provide the dynamic landscape---and the principles we derive from it---that puts everything else into perspective" [2]. These so-called narratives are not a factual recollection of what happened, but rather how the experiences were interpreted.

Emotion is largely responsible for the memories because humans subconsciously remember what they felt during an event and the outcome of it. Due to the fact that every individual perceives things in a different manner and displays emotions in their own way, all experiences are inherently unique. Hinton concludes the section though by acknowledging that designers are not helpless in this matter and can still have an impact by creating an environment that leans towards a certain type of experience for users.

Intentions and IntersectionsEdit

Hinton starts off by using a personal recollection of his childhood experience with riding Space Mountain at Disney World. He gives a detailed perspective of what he expected beforehand and what he thought and felt after the experience, which showed that expectations will not always match up with the reality of a situation. This story was meant to highlight the influential role past experiences can have on the perception of a new experience. "What we design is environmental, and the environment exerts control over what is possible to perceive and act upon" [3]. Although one cannot begin to fathom or control all narratives people will bring with them to a designed environment, Hinton points out the significance of contextual clues based on universal experiences because these can alter expectations and what people take away from the designer’s environment. So if designers are conscientious about the detailed components of their structure, they will possess much more control over a user's experience by limiting the possibilities of what can be perceived.

The Tales Organizations TellEdit

Hinton uses current well-known organizations, like Starbucks, to point out how confusion can emerge from designed environments when narratives conflict. When organizations form there can be one large narrative from all the individuals merging together or a few key narratives from groups within the larger organization. "Understanding the organization is an essential part of information architecture" [4]. This means that for an organization to be successful, they need to focus on the “what” and “why” behind their company before they decide “how” they’re going to get a task done. Hinton stresses the fact that cohesion is lost in a composition if these organizations do not focus on the language they are using in the bigger picture and real-life points of view for customers or users.

Situations over GoalsEdit

In this final section, Hinton uses more personal recollections to elaborate on processes that organizations should take when designing to meet the needs of users. Hinton points out that is difficult to follow the traditional standard of designing for the goals of users because this goals are often elaborate and dynamic. In order to understand users, it is more effective to listen and extract their goals from their stories rather than to ask directly and get framed responses. Often times companies create infrastructures that exclude groups of people or don't take into account all of the plausible unique scenarios. Hinton discusses how the financial services company website he analyzed "was missing the semantic functions needed to build the contextual bridges between the organization's systems and the real-life situations of customers" [5]. For example, changing power of attorney online didn't differentiate between people who were newly married and those who were recently divorced. Hinton argues that the best designs are those that meet a person in their current unique situations and help give them a pathway for self-exploration of their needs that they can easily comprehend.

AnalysisEdit

Every human being comes from a different background and therefore will have a unique experience in a designed environment based on the personal narrative they carry with them. As Hinton said, “No matter what user research discovers, it is often overshadowed by the hidden narratives and maps that such research could bring into visibility when used on the organization itself” [6]. Hinton uses this to point out the details that many organizations overlook when designing for users because they get caught up in a conflict between their own narratives and what would be more effective for users.

In an organization, individuals with various skills come together to try and achieve a common goal or task. However, group protocols [7] may not always be in alignment and so there has to be a certain approach to overcome differences and make sure the task is successfully accomplished, with the user in mind. This is essential because as Hinton says "we're designers interested in how people understand their experience, even if the story is distorted in retrospect" [8]. Hinton truly pushes for designers to think deeper about the user and their expectations, as well as what context is being created and what it will signify. Since the designers have no control over the past that a user brings along, Hinton poses the question “how does the environment meet people where they are?”[9]. This should be at the heart of all designed environments because if their is a lack of understanding with users or complications with the structure, it is a writing issue.

In today's society, digital writers need to shift their focus to the experience that users will have and then design with that in mind. Talia Wolf lays out the key components that must be taken into account during UX design, the most relevant to this chapter being personas. She defines a persona as "an identify that reflects one or more of the user groups you are designing for" [10]. In order to understand the persona, research must be done and that research includes finding out information regarding the narratives of the people that make up that group. If this is meticulously done, designers will be able to create a more effective final product that is beneficial to the unique scenarios of each user.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 378
  2. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 373
  3. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 377
  4. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 380
  5. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 384
  6. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 380
  7. "PROTOCOL." The Glossary of Education Reform. Great Schools Partnership, 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.
  8. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 383
  9. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 385
  10. Wolf, Talia. "A Beginner's Guide to Understanding UX Design." TNW Network All Stories RSS. The Next Web, Inc., 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.

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