Assignment 1

The Knowledge Acquisition Pipeline is as follows -

  • Sensation
  • Distinction
  • Segmentation
  • Recognition
  • Interpretation
  • Association
  • Contextualization

For this assignment I chose to compare two features each of the Zune Player and Windows Media Player. The features selected were:

  • Artist Search
  • Now Playing / Quick Play

The Zune UI has succeeded where both Windows Media Player and iTunes have failed, eliminating the confusing folder > sub-folder hierarchy that's traditionally defined the desktop media player. The experience of browsing for music in the Zune software makes finding music in a large library relatively easy. Another big improvement over the Windows Media Player and mostly a personal favorite is the typography used in Zune.

Zune On Windows - Search for Artists

What grabs my eye in the Zune search results page is the immediate name of the artist in big bold letters on the top left followed by the album art of the albums of that artist. These are the first two things that I see and intuitvely I know that I probably found what I was looking for.

Distinction and Segmentation
I can identify areas distinctively, neatly grouped with enough space in between the groups to realize that items in that group are related and belong together. These groups are Artists, Albums, Songs and Playlists. Without any interaction with the page, just by looking around the results I can already see information about some of the artists' songs and albums ordered by popularity. Another area that has its own space is the little player control at the bottom right of the screen - clearly distinct, yet not distracting to the eye - very subtle. A higher level of segmentation is shown by the column like split-up of filter (options) , collection results, and zune results.

Recognition & Interpretation
I can identify with the album art immediately and know that these are albums. The one line representation of a song (Song Name by Artist Name) could be improved upon. Adding a really small thumbnail of the album art (like a bullet) for each song would make the representation seem less paragraphish.

Association & Contextualization
The 3 lined meta information about the album details bind with the album art and together they form a small album object. This consistency is present throughout Zune. An artist contains albums. Albums contain songs. This association is prevalent in the results page. This can be derived from the number of results against Artist, Album and Songs too.

Windows Media Player - Search For Artists

Nothing 'grabs' my eye. Only the 3 lines of text representing my results. I don't even know the name of the artists that match my search and for a moment it seemed like it did not return any results. Upon closer observation I can see that the results have been categorized into Artist, Albums and Songs. When I view the Albums that matched my search by clicking on 'Albums', I see the different albums, but in weird alphabetic grouping which gives me the impression that the alphabetical grouping corresponds to an artist grouping. I cannot see the artist, or songs anymore and need to keep shuffling between views to find see artist and song results.

Zune On Windows - Quick Play

The song information on the bottom left and the playlist on the right stand out on top of the blurred album art collage background. Individual album art images change in the background very subtely as the song progresses.

Distinction and Segmentation
There are five things I see on the screen in an instinctive order of importance - The song information, the playlist, the player, the progress bar and the back button. Everything except the song information fades away soon too. The playlist typography along with font color make it easy to distinguish the individual songs in the playlist, and the currenty playing song.

Recognition & Interpretation
The well known icons (play, pause, next, stop) on the player help me identify the player easily. The line on the progress bar also associates itself with a generic 'progress bar' . I know that the list of items on the right correspond to a list of songs and realize that songs will play in the order that they are present on the list. The relative positioning of the big album art thumbnail along with the Artist name and the song name on the left to the other elements of the page is very asthetic.

Association & Contextualization
The entire background of album art evokes a very 'jam room' / 'music store' feeling. The asthetics of the the positions of the elements and the minimalist approach to this screen also contribute to the feel good factor / mood. Even if a passer-by happens to look at the screen, they would intuitively know that a song is being played.

Windows Media Player - Now Playing

Since the background is bland, I can clearly see the album art of the album the current song belongs to. If the album art were missing, then the whole screen would be bland. It seems like the now playing was built for playing videos and not songs. The Zune player arranged the elements of the screen in an asthetic way so as not to make the user feel that something was missing. The immediate feeling I get is - static, rigidity

Distinction and Segmentation
For some reason, the bottom section - the player and the progress bar are not as distinct as the Zune player even though they have a darker background. The playlist is clearly distinguishable as a separate element on the screen. The flashy glossy look of the buttons does not blend well with the rest of the screen. The reason for this could also be the dull look of the playlist. One point to note is that the name of the current song is absolutely not clear. I really had to search for the name of the song to figure out which song was playing.

Recognition & Interpretation
The progress bar that runs throughout the width of the screen is actually tough to find. The list on the right is easily identified as a list of songs and I realize that it is the order in which songs will be played.

Association & Contextualization
I would associate this player to a Video player rather than a universal media player. It looks like a regular windows application and one glance at it does not put across its purpose.