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Design of Everyday Things, chapters 1 and 2 - Accretions

Fata Morgana
2004-07-02 18:05
Design of Everyday Things, chapters 1 and 2
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I've read the first few chapters of Design of Everyday Things often enough that Norman's examples are very familiar: doors that are pushed rather than pulled, phones and watches with too few buttons, remote controls with too many buttons, refrigerators with faulty conceptual modeling. He advocates the following design principles:
  • Visibility and clear affordances (if it needs a sign, its functionality isn't visible enough)
  • a good conceptual model
  • clear and natural mappings
  • adequate and appropriate feedback
  • elegance (or at least the avoidance of featuritis)


In chapter 2, Norman points out that users often blame themselves for usability errors such as these because they are not seen as errors in the way that crashes or other anomalous behavior is, or they make causal hypotheses for unrelated coincidences. He outlines the seven stages of an action (which are not necessarily discrete, well-defined, or even present for all actions, but are useful anyhow) to help designers better account for users' needs:
  1. forming a goal
  2. forming an intention (particular way of achieving the goal)
  3. specifying an action
  4. executing an action
  5. perceiving the state of the world
  6. interpreting the state of the world (mapping the actual state of the world to the expected state)
  7. evaluating the outcome

Norman then describes the following common problems in design and reiterates the design principles described in chapter 1.
  • The gulf of execution - the system doesn't provide (or doesn't make obvious) functions that correspond to the actions of a person
  • The gulf of evaluation - the system doesn't easily let people perceive and interpret the results of their action
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