Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Campus Analysis

I observed the Kalamazoo College Quad. Its purpose is to act as a social area where students can go and relax under the shade of a tree and read a book or do various outdoor activities. I made my observations on 11/16/08 at about 4:00PM.

The Quad is a large open area in the middle of the campus with seating arrangements from anywhere on the grass to under a tree to ledges, benches, tables, and stairs. The area is very inviting and friendly and you can almost always find someone out on the Quad when the weather is nice. Floors concrete or brick pavers with concrete sidewalks and stairs and ground cover is grass and landscaping. The sound level is moderate--ranging anywhere from quiet to loud. The materials used to construct the place are brick pavers, concrete, plant materials, steel, and other various materials.

This area projects a natural, relaxing image where students can take a break from everything and hang out with friends. There is very little concrete--only the sidewalk and steps--and there is a lot of landscaping and open grass with large trees. It is a very relaxing setting and it can be reflexive to the person who feels connected with nature when they are there. I think this is the image that the school wants to project.

People socialize all over the quad, whether they are standing in the middle of the grass or off to the side on the stairs, ledges, or benches. Students use the trees to provide shade and often relax in the chairs and benches all over the Quad.

I liked how the Quad was centrally located on campus so all of the students and even faculty and visitors interact with it on a daily basis.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Principles oof Marketing

Marketing is affected greatly by design. The company must design a marketing plan which relates to a specific target demographic of consumers. The design of products, their packaging, and their brands are key to marketing. These designs help the company better market their product by creating an easy way to remember it. In my opinion, the most important elements of marketing are the brand names and package designs because they are what most influence the consumer when making a purchase.

Branding and marketing is closely related to the design of experiences. Many companies market their product as an experience. Brands are carefully thought about and marketing is targeted to attract the largest possible amount of customers. The better experience a customer has with a certain brand the more established the brand name is.

Kalamazoo College's brand is one of prestige. The important elements of K's brand position are its mascot, logo, and academic standing. Kalamazoo is very well known for its academics and its logo can be easily recognized. Design reinforces K's brand because of the way K's experience is designed. It is a rigorous academic experience at a small private institution.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Experience Architect

I feel that the writer stresses that the design of an experience is as important as, if not more important than, the design of products. This is often a somewhat cheap way to provide customers with an experience that will keep them coming back for repeat purchases. Certain "trigger points" such as comfortable beds in hotels are used to attract customers and keep them coming back. If the experience is good the customer is going to want to enjoy it again.

The design of experiences and the design of products are very similar yet at the same time quite different. Experiences are designed to instill a certain memory in the customer to keep them coming back for that same kind of experience. Products are a one-time buy and only have to attract the user at the time of the purchase. Design of experiences and products go hand in hand--if a customer has a good experience, they are more likely to buy that product.

If I were to plan a social, community-building activity for our class with a $100.00 budget I would plan a flag football tournament. The $100.00 would go to providing flags and footballs for the games.

The Third Place

Ray Oldenburg defines a third place as "an informal public gathering place where the main activity is conversation." He is typically talking about pubs, libraries, health spa's, coffee shops, etc. It is a place where people can relax and not have to worry about their problems and socialize with their friends.

Successful third places are designed to welcome everyone. They should be very comfortable and inviting. These third places should be very reflexive, reminding those there of home and bringing everyone closer.

I believe that the Game Room in the Kalamazoo Campus has potential to be a successful third place because it is very friendly and inviting. It has a lot of activities to do and a lot of students go there to meet with their friends. This is a great place to get the stress of school off your mind. This could be improved by making the Game Room more comfortable because there are some things that shouldn't be where they are and it makes for an uncomfortable situtation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Whyte's key points in this chapter are that sitting space, functionality, and location are the determining factors of whether are plaza will succeed or fail. Furthermore, the type, height, and depth of seating are all considered in designing a successful plaza because there are certain ranges where people feel most comfortable. Also, location is important, but the plaza must also be visible to the passerbyer. If a plaza does not serve its function, it is doomed for failure.

The design factors (reflexive, visceral, and functional) all play key roles in the design of both urban spaces and consumer products. Both urban spaces and consumer products must give the user/consumer a good feel of the space/product whether it be reflexive, visceral, or functional. In some ways, functionality is more important in urban spaces because if it does not serve its function it will fail. This can also be true of a consumer product; however, this is only true for those that fall under the functional catagory.

My checklist, based on Whyte's ideas, that I would use to analyze an urban space would be as follows:
  • Seating -- is there enough, what kinds of seating are there (moveable, benches, ledges, stairs), height of seating (is it comfortable), depth of seating (deep enough for two, deep enough for one, comfortable depth), and size (keep enough distance between strangers).
  • Functionality -- does this plaza do what it is supposed to do (attract people to sit, eat, and socialize)
  • Location -- is this plaza located near the downtown area (how close is it).
  • Visibility -- can it be seen by passerbyers easily, not sunken or raised

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Downtown Kalamazoo

I thought that, overall, the downtown Kalamazoo area was pretty attractive. It had very nice sidewalks and some nice generators--the bars, the park, restaurants, and some of the stores. However, the area was somewhat dirty, and this could be unattractive. The beggars that were heckling the shoppers was another turn off. There are a lot of benches and trees which, according to Gibbs, distracts shoppers.

One recommendation for the downtown would be to clean up the streets, sidewalks, and back alleys. They were all pretty dirty and unappealing. The next thing I would do would be to get the beggars off the sidewalks by adding more security, this would make this a safer place for shoppers and would take away the discomfort of beggars. Finally, I would add some more appealing stores to the downtown area, maybe some more high end stores with big names that would attract a more sophisticated crowd of shoppers.

"The shade trees and planter boxes? Lovely, he says, but they block shoppers' view of shop windows and signs. Those handsome groupings of benches and tables? They seem inviting until Gibbs points out that they often attract teenagers and other loiterers, who scare off shoppers. The elegant Victorian streetlamps, the expensive trash cans, and the distinctive granite paving stones--"so beautiful that people will stare at them as they walk by the storefronts," Gibbs says--are little more than money down the drain. Their costs must be amortized over many years, but long before they have been paid off (and before the town can afford to replace them) they will be old-fashioned, marking the entire street as out of date and out of step."

This had great relevance to downtown Kalamazoo. It had a lot of, according to Gibbs, unnecessary benches, tables, and trees that ultimately distract shoppers and attract other kinds of people such as teenagers which scares shoppers away. The sidewalks are very interesting, and Gibbs will point out that people will stare at them as they pass a store. The downtown area looks very appealing and expensive, which means that the entire street will soon be out of date and Kalamazoo will not be able to afford to renovate it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Main Street Can Learn From The Mall

Robert Gibbs closely compares Main Street with large shopping and strip center malls. He believes that the downtown areas should take into consideration the entire appearance of the downtown, not just the stores themselves. Gibbs main criteria is as follows:
  1. Stores should be on the righthand side whereas coffee shops and cafes should be on the left. This matches with the flow of traffic.
  2. Downtown should be comfortable--sidewalks and roadways should be maintained, rest areas should not invite loitering, and police/security should be present to provide reassurance.
  3. Storefronts need to appeal to both the walking shopper as well as those driving through the downtown.
  4. Should have around 20,000sf of retail space to make the trip worthwhile to shoppers. Also, should contain well known stores as well as one-of-a-kind stores; shoppers like a good mix.
  5. Traffic should be slowed down in a downtown area so drivers cannot fly through, this gives drivers more time to look at store displays.
  6. Main Street should not be too fancy, attractive sidewalks and other features distract shoppers from what is important, the stores.
  7. Display name brands that are sold at stores; this makes the downtown more attractive.
I do not think that "Main Street" should be a mall; however, I do believe that it should resemble one. Downtown areas need to have slower traffic and similar displays to that of a mall to attract shoppers and invite them into the stores. Also, downtown areas need to have a lot of retail space along with well known and rare stores.

If I were to judge a Main Street, my checklist would be similar to that of Gibbs. Some things that would be important to me are:
  1. Good variety of stores, both name brand and one-of-a-kind.
  2. Clean walking area and inviting storefronts.
  3. High traffic area with slow automobile traffic.
  4. Comfortable shopping area as described above.