Sketching, Storyboarding, and Critique

From CS1635 Spring 2014
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Contents

Slides

slides

Readings


Reading Critiques

Nicholas Amoscato 17:31:14 1/17/2014

In the first chapter of his book “The Design of Everyday Things”, cognitive psychologist Donald Norman explains his belief that the errors people make in using everyday objects are not coincidental; rather, they reflect problems in the design of the object. Norman gives several examples of poorly designed objects throughout his chapter: doors (natural signals must be visible), telephone systems (poor instructions, no visible structure, lack of feedback, arbitrary and many-to-one mappings), washer and dryer machines (over-complicated set of controls), and refrigerator controls (misleading conceptual model). Norman essentially describes what he believes to be two ideal principles of design: (1) provide a good conceptual model and (2) make things visible. A conceptual model is a type of mental model that enables people to understand “themselves, others, the environment, and the things with which they interact” (Norman 17). This can be accomplished by ensuring that the system image, or the outward perceivable part of the system, makes sense and fits the task at hand. In effect, one will know how something works, not just the fact that it works. Additionally, actions should be interpretable by providing feedback, or information that informs the user what action has been accomplished. The second principle of design—making things visible—involves indicating how the user is supposed to interact with the device in the first place. This can be accomplished by taking advantage of affordances (perceived and actual properties of the object that determine just how the thing could possibly be used without the need for external instructions), providing constraints (limits or restrictions on what the user can do) and ensuring natural and one-to-one mapping (the relationship between an object’s controls and its results in the world that take advantage of physical analogies and cultural standards). Norman defines the ‘paradox of technology’ as a phenomena that complicates mapping: “The same technology that simplifies life by providing more functions also complicates the device by making it harder to learn” (Norman 31). Disclaimer: I read “The Design of Everyday Things” in its entirety last semester; thus, the organization of the some of the concepts described above reflect my understanding of the book as a whole.

Guoyang Huang (Guh6) 13:00:04 1/18/2014

The reading by Donald Norman illustrated a lot of principles associated with designing new inventions that I had never realized before. Firstly, he stated that knowledge is in the world rather than the head which means that our perception relies on our cultural and everyday settings rather than intrinsic adeptness for using new things. Secondly, design should have the principle of visibility that relates to correct parts must be visible with the correct message and mapping that ensures that function fits form. I’ve learned that poor design predominates and that is not natural design. Thirdly, affordance should be considered when designing a “thing” to take into account of the fundamental properties a “thing” is to possess or do such as a chair “is to sit”. Fourthly, whenever one sees revolutionized item, a conceptual model is created from the constraints, affordances, and mappings that one understands through uses of existing items. These concepts led to the understanding of a poor vs. clever design. In the poor design, visibility is lacking and the conceptual model is poor. I found it surprising that an example he used was of if a feature is added to a genome of design and it does not incur negativity from customers, then it lasts forever. If it’s a simple design, then there needs to be no instructions or clues to do natural functions. A good design is one that its system is understandable, has a relationship among the user with results being sensible. This is especially important because of the increasing complexity of modern designs. He states that it will be difficult for people to use an item if the number of actions exceeds the number of controls available. Additionally, if an idea fails, then it is no longer a trend even if it might be a good design later on in the future. This is a pessimistic view on good vs. bad design. Norman also talked about mapping and feedback and these concepts were new to me. For mapping, it included cultural and biological standards of immediate understanding of a new item. He referred to this as natural mapping. This is important in designing anything because you want to have a close and natural relationship between the control and its function because of the paradox of complexity. The paradox of complexity shaped like a U curve and it makes sense to me because of the examples he gave of the radio and watches. Accordingly, feedback is useful for the users to know what actions have been done. This creates a paradox of added functionally because of added complexity in that we now have more functions but less feedback. The tradeoff of which is cost vs. usability and this is sometimes good if clever designed is considered. In summary, this was a good read and I learned a lot about the psychology in designing.

Xiaoxuan Chen 21:46:25 1/18/2014

Through the difficulty and frustration bad designs bring to people in everyday life, this article used some very good examples of poor designs in our everyday life to discuss some important design principles. The importance of visibility was introduced with an example of door design and how confusing it can be if not clearly specified which side to push. A design should have the correct parts be visible and convey the correct message. One way to do this is by natural design - using natural signals and what will be naturally interpreted. Mapping between what you want to do and what appears to be possible is also something to keep in mind. The author gave a lot of examples of bad designs people face in every day life. Some problems to a bad design include poor instruction, lack of visibility, and no visible outcome of the operation. From those we see that the importance of visibility, appropriate clues, and feed back of one's action which constituted a form of psychology of how people interact with things. Affordance refers to the perceived and actual properties of the thing, primarily those fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used. It provide strong clues to the operation of things. There are hundreds of thousands of items we interact each day, and therefore our life could be filled with difficulties. Part of how people cope is the way our mind works, but also from the information available from the objects, which is POET. So how to design for understandability and usability? A couple ways include providing a good conceptual model, make things visible, mapping the controls and their movements and the results, and sending feedback to the user to inform them what was done. In conclusion, designing is hard especially in this era where technology offers the potential to make life easier but at the same time add complexities that could increase our difficulty and frustration. From this I got a better idea of what designing is like and how to make a design good and useful. This article is also quite insightful in that it gave a lot of common but rarely remembered examples, good and bad, to inspire us to think more about each item in our life and it's design.

Buck Young 3:38:46 1/20/2014

Most objects which you interact with on a daily basis are poorly designed. The refrigerator, the stove, the microwave, a watch, and even doors (have you ever pushed when you should have pulled?!) -- their respective interfaces occasionally leave us dumbfounded. POET (The Psychology of Everyday Things) aims to rectify this issue. The first chapter focuses on 2 interesting elements of design: visibility (the correct parts must be visible and convey a proper message) and mapping (between what you are attempting and what can be done with a system). The chapter then goes on to introduce inherent affordances, which are objects intended use (balls are bounced or thrown, knobs are twisted, switches are flicked) and require no instructions whatsoever. Upon this we can build fundamental principles of design: make things visible and provide a good conceptual model. Conceptual models are very imported when providing the user a foreign experience because they need to be able to successfully test their hypothesis about how a system works given the contextual clues. A final important design concept is that of feedback: you must provide your user with recognition that an event was successful or unsuccessful. I found this reading to be helpful as I have experienced bad design and also have arrived at a lack of ability for explaining why it is bad. With the new concepts presented here, I will better be able to see where and why designs fail.

Guoyang Huang (Guh6) 10:55:21 1/20/2014

The reading by Donald Norman illustrated a lot of principles associated with designing new inventions that I had never realized before. Firstly, he stated that knowledge is in the world rather than the head which means that our perception relies on our cultural and everyday settings rather than intrinsic adeptness for using new things. Secondly, design should have the principle of visibility that relates to correct parts must be visible with the correct message and mapping that ensures that function fits form. I’ve learned that poor design predominates and that is not natural design. Thirdly, affordance should be considered when designing a “thing” to take into account of the fundamental properties a “thing” is to possess or do such as a chair “is to sit”. Fourthly, whenever one sees revolutionized item, a conceptual model is created from the constraints, affordances, and mappings that one understands through uses of existing items. These concepts led to the understanding of a poor vs. clever design. In the poor design, visibility is lacking and the conceptual model is poor. I found it surprising that an example he used was of if a feature is added to a genome of design and it does not incur negativity from customers, then it lasts forever. If it’s a simple design, then there needs to be no instructions or clues to do natural functions. A good design is one that its system is understandable, has a relationship among the user with results being sensible. This is especially important because of the increasing complexity of modern designs. He states that it will be difficult for people to use an item if the number of actions exceeds the number of controls available. Additionally, if an idea fails, then it is no longer a trend even if it might be a good design later on in the future. This is a pessimistic view on good vs. bad design. Norman also talked about mapping and feedback and these concepts were new to me. For mapping, it included cultural and biological standards of immediate understanding of a new item. He referred to this as natural mapping. This is important in designing anything because you want to have a close and natural relationship between the control and its function because of the paradox of complexity. The paradox of complexity shaped like a U curve and it makes sense to me because of the examples he gave of the radio and watches. Accordingly, feedback is useful for the users to know what actions have been done. This creates a paradox of added functionally because of added complexity in that we now have more functions but less feedback. The tradeoff of which is cost vs. usability and this is sometimes good if clever designed is considered. In summary, this was a good read and I learned a lot about the psychology in designing.

Hao Zhang 13:13:19 1/20/2014

This reading gives me a idea that a good inspiration can come from daily life. A good project doesn't mean that we have to create--maybe we just need to recombine things which already exist. Paying more attentions to every details in our life, we may find something inadequate. And a little change can make our world better. In general, our design should be based on human psychology that which change or design can make people more comfortable. Moreover, we could design easily rather than technologically. A easy solution may also solute technologically hard problem.

Ariana Farshchi 14:35:13 1/20/2014

In Donald Norman’s book, The Psychology of Everyday Things, he explains that in his study on human error and industrial accidents, most equipment failure is coupled with serious design errors, which leads to human error. In the first chapter, he tells us that well designed objects are easy to interpret and understand. Users shouldn’t need an engineering degree to figure out what a device does. Norman uses the example of aesthetically pleasing glass doors to illustrate one of the most important principles of design, visibility. He says that “the correct parts must be visible, and they must convey the correct message”. This is the reason his friend got trapped in the doorway of a post office. Another example he uses is a telephone without a visible hold button equipped with poor instructions, to reiterate the importance of visibility and easy user instructions. Norman uses more examples to explain key factors of design, like mappings, affordances, constraints, conceptual and mental models, and feedback. In Norman’s chapter conclusion, he tells us that design is not an easy task. He explains that technology is a paradox because it is supposed to make our lives easier when it often makes it more difficult, but this paradox of technology should never be used as an excuse for poor design.

MJ (Mary Letera) 16:11:15 1/20/2014

In The Psychology of Everyday Things, the author talks about the use of what he calls “natural design” to enhance the user’s experience when utilizing every day items. “Natural design” makes use of visual cues to indicate how the product should be used. For example, a door may have different hardware on each side to indicate whether it should be pushed or pulled without needing to spell it out. In the same vein, providing visual feedback after an action has been completed, such as a blinking light for the hold function in a telephone system, is useful for letting a user know that they are using an item properly. I found this reading to be interesting as it definitely covers an important topic. Many engineers (including software engineers) focus so much on creating sophisticated design when it comes to core functionality that they forget to consider how that functionality will be related to someone with little to no understanding of the underlying mechanisms.

Robert McDermot 18:25:23 1/20/2014

Today's reading was about the psychology of design and the good and bad design of everyday things. The author argued that people aren't actually bad with understanding how basic things like doors and watches work, but rather that when these things are poorly designed, it is nearly impossible for us to interact with them. The author recommends that designers keep in mind the 2 fundamental principles of designing for people: (1) provide a good conceptual model and (2) make things visible.
The first principle refers to the idea that people are familiar with how a great many everyday objects work and that when designing a new object, the designer should use these prior associations to their advantage. The designers should make the relationship between the controls of an object and the outcomes those controls produce obvious to the user.
The second principle says that designers should strive to make the action caused by the control plainly visible to the user. This way the user will understand what effect they just had on the object and that it was indeed the desired effect.
While I agree with the author for a large portion of this paper, I think he places too much blame on the design of systems where the operator is supposed to be an expert. For example, in his preface the author implies that a commercial airliner crashing due to a pilot not understanding the controls of the plane is really the fault of poor design. While I agree that poor design may contribute to a steep learning curve, I do not agree that it would be the designer's fault that the plane crashes. Pilot's (as well as other experts with their tools) are required to train for long periods of time and prove, through testing, that they understand how their tool works. It is my belief that forgetting what controls to use or how to use them properly is not the fault of the designer but rather the professed expert.

Zhanjie Zhang 19:51:43 1/20/2014

The author begins with a preface stating that the errors that humans encounter in our everyday life are not mainly because of human error, but machine error that was designed poorly. The author continues to state that people should not need an advanced degree from MIT to be able to work common objects that are present in everyday life. But poorly designed objects often trap the user and thwart the normal process of interpretation and understanding. An example that the author gave was the door. He pushes when he should have pulled; giving an idea that for him the design of the doors are not something that is very intuitive to use. It leads to one design principle: visibility. Good design must signal to the user as to how to use the item. For doors, the designers must have signals that naturally indicate where to push and is doable without destroying aesthetics. By using natural signals, we get to the concept of natural design; not needing to be conscious of them. The author provides good examples of his friend trapped due to poor designs of doors and the Leitz slide projector which delayed their presentation by over 15 minutes. He also talks about the difficulty of giving a presentation and having the slide go down to just the right size. He talks about the design of a telephone when he visited the publisher, Basic Books. The telephone was an example of poor instructions, lack of visibility of the operation of the system. Having the user getting help to operate a specific product is one aspect of poor design. This can be converted to developing mobile applications. When designing apps, the designer must be sure to develop apps that are intuitive and does not require much practice. We can use the concept of affordance, the perceived and actual properties of a thing. We must also be aware of conceptual models and how humans perceive devices. We need to provide a good conceptual model. Things must also be visible, in making a mobile application, it is important for it to be intuitive and easily understandable. Another important concept is mapping, understanding the relationship between two things. We can see this from steering a car. While it is difficult to design very well, the designed must keep all of these concepts in mind designing a product. When designing my mobile application, I will be sure to take these advice from the author and incorporate them into my application design.

Michael Mai 20:08:19 1/20/2014

In this reading, the author talks about the importance of good design for products. He starts off by saying how easy it is to use many everyday items regardless if you've seen them before. One example talks about how scissors can only be used one way and it is easy to use even if you've never seen one. He also talks about how most doors are pretty easy as well because you either push or pull and most of them are marked. With that being said, he also goes on to criticize the design of some doors that are complicated. He tells a story about his friend who got stuck between 2 revolving doors because the design was terrible. Next, he goes on to talk about how some electronics are extremely poorly designed and most people can't utilize the full features of these products. He talks about phones and how most people don't know how to do simple things such as put a call on hold. He blames the designers for the poor design and no clear marked way to do these things. Overall, the author does make very good points. I believe that a good design is crucial to any product. This applies to software as well. With a poor design, the users cannot get the fullest out of a program. The author opens my eyes to some important terms such as visibility and mapping. Using good technique in designing software is a crucial skill and I never really thought about it until reading this article.

MJ McLaughlin 21:42:28 1/20/2014

In his book The Psychology of Everyday Things, Donald Norman provides a very interesting way to look at things we use every day, things like telephones and doors and cars, things we usually think of as anything but interesting. A lot of thought goes into the design of these commonplace objects and tools, and there are some very important principles that drive this thought and the design of these objects that have become so central in our day to day activities. One such principle is “visibility,” which describes how the correct parts of a tool must be visible, and the must convey the correct message. A door, for example, should have handles that convey whether one should push or pull that door. And if the features of the tool convey their use naturally, that is, without any need for someone to think about the use those features are trying to convey, then that tool adheres to natural design and is all the better for it. A telephone system that uses difficult to remember, arbitrary codes and button presses for features that should be easy to use, such as a “hold” feature, is not well-designed according to these principles. Another principle is affordance, or the perceived and actual properties of something that help determine and convey how that thing should be used. Knobs on doors are for turning, glass is for providing both protection and visibility, slots are for inserting things, and so on, and these features should be used in the way that people naturally think about them being used. We as human beings are surrounded by countless numbers of objects that we must use every day, and we should be able to use them without great difficulty. When we use these things, we think about them using a conceptual model to mentally simulate how we think the object should work. The system image, or the visible construction of an object, is based on the designer’s model of how something should be used. Our interactions with the visible part of an object in turn help us form out mental/conceptual model of the object. This is based of affordances, as well as the ideas of constraints and mappings. Constraints, like the small size of scissor handles, limit the possibilities of a feature’s use, and mappings are a sort-of cause and effect relationship we develop based on what we do and what the object we’re using does in response. Objects with clear affordances, constraints, and mappings should lend well to our ability to construct a useful and correct conceptual model that we can use to operate that object well. Mapping, the relationship between two things, such as the relationship between the controls of an object and the effect those controls have in the real world, is a key part of the idea of natural design. Controls should act like we expect them to, like a steering wheel turning a car in the direction we turn the wheel, and not like a phone redial system calling a seemingly random number at seemingly random times. A good example of natural design is the seat adjustment system in many cars nowadays, where, to adjust a seat, the user adjusts buttons shaped like a miniature version of the seat in the position they want to adjust. By pushing the lower part of the seat button up, the actual lower part of the seat adjusts up. This is tight, natural mapping and provides clear and quick feedback, another principle of design that describes conveying to a user what their action has accomplished in a clear and quick fashion. Now a designer having to think about all of these different principles when designing an object sounds difficult enough, but in the real world designers also have to design things while taking into account the requirements of many different people as well. They must think about, for example, the manufacturer who wants to be able to build the object as economically as possible, the user who wants the object to look good, work well, and be easy to use, as well as the repairmen who want to be able to easily take apart the object, figure out what’s wrong, and fix it. This all makes design a process of trial and error, with five or six attempts usually being required to get something right, and many good ideas being poorly executed an abandoned in the process. And this also contributes to what is called the paradox of technology. This paradox describes how technology development tends to follow a U-shaped complexity curve, with new technology starting off complicated and hard to use, become easier to use and more powerful as the technology and design matures, and then becoming more complicated again as even more functionality and power is added again. The phone, for example, started off as a pretty difficult piece of technology to use, with operators and switchboards and many other factors coming into play. As the technology matured, calling someone became as simple as punching in their number using easy-to-use tactile buttons. Then, new features like call-waiting, redialing, call forwarding and many others were introduced which, while useful, added complexity taking form in ways such as having to press arbitrary button combinations to access these features, complexity that causes many to not even be aware such features exist. As designers we have to realize that when we add useful features to something, that inherently adds some complexity and difficulty-of-use as well. But we are able to, and must try to, make that added complexity and difficulty as minimal as possible.

Brian Kelly 21:44:10 1/20/2014

The first chapter of Psychology of Everyday Things contained a few key ideas mixed in with a very large number of real-world examples that the author has observed and had experience with. But overall, when you weed through the mess of examples, you find the ideas of visibility, conceptual models, affordance, constraints, and mapping (among others). Theses ideas are fairly intuitive and yet they are not always taken into consideration when designing these everyday things. One example that he continuously referred to as a good example was the automobile. Each piece of functionality is generally mapped to a visible button or switch that have clear constraints that make the conceptual model easy to interpret. In the end, it is not always the designers' fault. They are being pulled in many different directions by many different people as the manufacturer wants something economical, the store wants something attractive, the purchaser wants something affordable, attractive, and usable. The designers have to take all of these into consideration since they have only 2 or 3 attempts to get it right before the product is considered "dead".

James Devine 22:34:25 1/20/2014

This reading emphasizes the importance of creating objects that are user friendly. Specifically meaning that when a user comes across an object for the first time, it should be relatively simple to figure out what the object does and how to use the object. Too often, objects are built with some very interesting capabilities but user’s design model and system image are too complex for the user. The author explains several terms that help to explain the relationship between users and objects. Affordance refers to the perceived and actual properties of the object. “A chair affords (“is for”) support and , therefore, affords sitting”. Constraints are the limitations of the object that are intended to help the user understand the purpose for certain aspects of the object. For example, the finger holes on scissors make it pretty clear that feet are not intended to be placed into the holes. Mapping refers to the relationship between two things. Drivers understand the mapping that turning the steering wheel clockwise turns the car to the right. Feedback is used to give the user an understanding of what the action has actually done and what result has been accomplished. I have fallen victim to confusing objects and products many times, so this article made a lot of sense to me. I will certainly make sure to do keep my future designs simple for the user to understand.

Cody Giardinello 23:31:44 1/20/2014

Today's reading was about the role humans play in the world and how often we so quickly blame ourselves for the mistakes and errors around us. The author delves into how the human mind wants to rationalize and make sense of the world and doing so may lead us to falling into pitfalls of poorly designed objects we encounter everyday. The design of everyday things starts with one of the most important aspects of design, visibility, the author suggests. Next, the author speaks about objects and their affordances (how things are meant to be used). In POET, the next section is about the items in our everyday lives such as staplers, irons, and bicycles. This section continues into the design process, starting with a designers conceptual model to the users idea of how the product should work. It becomes clear that these two models do not always match, as in the case of the refrigerator. Another interesting idea the author brings up is the differences in the level of difficulty between learning to use a telephone and a car in Europe. This idea boils down the fact that the car has good visibility and the system is overall more understandable. The author then describes "mapping" (relationship between two things) and "feedback" (sending information back to the user about what has been done). Both of these concepts play heavily into good design. Overall I thought the reading was very interesting and engaging. It really made me thing about the things in the world that we can easily take for granted.

Max Campolo 23:53:23 1/20/2014

This reading was about the importance of good design for users. When building something that's intended for users other than yourself, it is important to assume that the user will not naturally know how to use it. The design should be easy to use for other people, specifically those who it is meant to be used by. One important concept is visibility, which allows users to see how to use something quickly without a lot of thinking. There is also the concept of affordance with goes along with this. It is the perceived use of something. It is also important to provide a good conceptual model of something that is going to be used by a variety of different people so that it can be understood. Lastly, the principles of mapping and feedback were discussed. Mapping is important to be able to distinguish the relationship between multiple things. Feedback is sending the user information on what has been done so that they know what they have accomplished, not accomplished, or problems with how they are using something

Steven Bauer 23:54:12 1/20/2014

Todays reading is talking about poor design in products we interact with in daily life. The author tells us that for most of his life he would be unable to use household machines such as a refrigerator and would blame himself rather than realizing that these devices have been poorly designed. The first problem he explores in POET is the visibility problem. The example he describes is a set of two revolving doors that are difficult to know where to push to open them. The problem is mapping between that you need to do and and what you see. He goes on to show examples of bad design with a phones hold button and a hard to use washing machine. Next is affordances which is what something can be used for, a chair affords sitting. Conceptual models allow us to look at a device and its parts and determine how we are to use them. He explains trouble with his universities phone system and delves into why this is so difficult to use compared to a vehicle. This is because everything in a car has its own controls and they are most often labeled compared to a phone with far less buttons than functions. He continues by saying ways to make controls more intuitive, one is to make the controls map to the physical thing you are doing, pressing something up would raise the crane for example. Another way is to provide feedback such that the user isn't wondering if their action was really completed. The final section of the article discusses why and how to develop a product and instructs us to complete a project of our own while following advice we received from this article. It is clear that designing a new product that is easy to use is quite challenging and it has made me think about which products I encounter in my own life that should be redesigned.

Zach Liss 0:20:44 1/21/2014

Today's reading really spoke to me about the importance of a good UI. It needs to be clear and intuitive. A user should feel like it is easy to navigate throughout all of the pages. We need to avoid the case of someone feeling like they are stuck between two walls of glass doors. Its important to add clues that add to the visibility of an app. This will help the users be properly directed during their use of the app. It is important not to oversimplify things though. If one button has too many uses a user might not notice all of them.

Alex Stiegel 0:46:41 1/21/2014

I find the beginning of the article very true, but puzzling... If you can't use your household objects, then you didn't read the manual... If you want to learn how to use your washer or dryer, I'm almost positive it came with a little book that you can look for stuff in... The idea of a good model makes sense though. Why should I have to read a manual to work something. If they model is good, then I wouldn't have to look anything up. I would just know.Things should be easily seen or intuitive, but how do you know if something is obvious to everyone ? Maybe the guy that made the confusing washing machine thought it was easy to use. It's a very interesting problem.

Cory Savit 1:06:16 1/21/2014

Today's reading, The Psychology of Everyday Things, focused primarily on the difficulties in designing products that are easily usable, while the functions of products are becoming increasingly complex. Obviously the book is a little outdated, but the ideas still hold true for the design of any new product, or attempt to improve an existing product. One concept that really stood out was the idea of natural mapping or making the layout of controls and general usage intuitive. While it may be difficult, or even impossible, to make a control that is directly related to the desired effect, we can base the controls on innate or cultural standards making them easy to understand. Having a high ratio of functions to controls was also strongly discouraged, as it makes even simple functions more difficult to execute.

Zach Sadler 1:15:58 1/21/2014

I found it interesting that the author said much of our everyday knowledge resides in the world, not in the head. I used to think that most of the knowledge existed in the consciousness of individuals, but I guess there is more knowledge just floating around in the world waiting to be plucked up by me. Awesome. I completely agree with the idea that it's dumb that great technology should be masked behind hard to use interfaces. It's part of the reason I'm taking this course, so that the author won't have to write a paper about how difficult my stuff is to use. The example of the doors is a simple one but a fantastic one, as doors are ambiguous without markings but can very easily be distinguishable between push and pull with horizontal and vertical bars. Such a simple idea, but such is the psychology of everyday things. I found it interesting that so much of designing digital devices is modeled after analog devices, yet at the same time totally separate. What an interesting article.

Brian Kacin 1:57:57 1/21/2014

The beginning of this chapter is explains that the simple things we use in life should not be difficult to use. Understandably frustrating is when something that is supposed to be simple, leaves you at a guessing game to figure out the functionality and execution. For example, which way to open a door, certain features on a washing machine, brand new watches should be in the simplest form for the people to operate. There is an example of a story of the author’s friend getting trapped in-between to sets of doors in Europe. In designing these products, it is important to implement great visual cues for the user for using at their convenience. One of the key approaches to improving something you make is to make a good conceptual model before you make something. Also make the cues and clues visible to the user so what they want to do is as easy as possible. Another big thing to help the users with your product is to provide user feedback and embracing it.

Longhao Li 2:50:03 1/21/2014

At the beginning of the book, the author talked that poor design may cause people who are smart unable to solve some problem. The author used the example that his friend got trapped in the doorway of a post office. The doors are designed for beauty not utility so that to open the door need to know how to operate it. It came from teaching not from intuition. From it, the author show the importance of visibility, which give people the way to understand how to use something by just look at them. Then the author bring several examples to show poor design will make people go crazy when using it. designer needs to follow the affordance of items, which is the basic properties that things may be used, and try to make them visible to the users so that they can save times in everyday life by using them. After these, the author point out the principles of design for understandability and usability: provide a good conceptual model and make things visible. wrong conceptual model may lead to a product to a wrong direction and got something that are hard to operate. Also even we got a good conceptual model, if we go without caring about visibility, good functions will hard to use, just like the telephone, complex way to make hold on a phone call so that people didn’t like to use it even if they may need it. Also the author talked about the principle of mapping. The author demonstrated the mapping of the way to steer a car with human’s action(the top of the steering wheel go right if they want the car go right). It tell us that good mapping can help people to learn how to use something. Meanwhile, the author talked about the principle of feedback, using feedback to improve the usability of products. All of these are great ideas to guide modern manufacturing to make something that make people’s life easier. Great job.

Derrick Ward 3:41:10 1/21/2014

This week’s reading was about the psychology of everyday things. More specifically, the passage focused on the usability and design of items such as doors, switches, telephones, projectors, and etc. The author takes us on a tour of his and other peoples’ memories, in which, in one time or another they found themselves befuddled as to how to interact with a certain item or invention. During one memory of using a swing door in a post office in Europe, the author’s friend could not figure out where to push or slide the second interior door to gain access into the building. This particular memory served as a gateway to mentioning that one of the most important principles of design is “visibility”. With visibility, the author mentions that the correct paths must be visible, and they must convey the correct message. The author tells of other memories, but one in particular that has stuck with me is during the time he was giving a presentation using the Leitz slide projector. The author and his student-assistant struggled with figuring out how to go forward and reverse in the slide presentation. I too on one occasion or another had struggle with a similar issue during a presentation I had given for a class last semester. One of the underlying consequences I had known, but was reinforced through this reading was that if your product has poor instinctive “how-to-use” designs it could cost you customers and reputation. Hence, it is important for the inventor or industrial designer to make sure that when they are designing a product, the psychological way humans think to interact needs to be priority number one.

Pedro Alvillar 5:34:20 1/21/2014

One of the most important principles of design is visibility. Visibility is important as it allows users of said object to naturally interpret how the object works through clearly visible parts of the design. The use of natural signals is referred by the author as natural design. Mapping, another important feature of design, refers to the arrangement of controls and their movements in relation to their function. A design with good mapping reduces the amount of thinking a user has to do when figuring out how to use an interface. The two fundamental principles to take into consideration when designing for people are: providing a good conceptual model, and making things visible. As devices get more complex, there is less and less feedback given to the user in response to his interactions with said devices; as a result devices have become more and more difficult to use. Even though the needs of the manufacturer, the store, the consumer, and the repair service are different, it is still possible to provide a good design that satisfies everyone involved. The problem however lies in the fact that new products are almost guaranteed to fail on the first try as the design won’t be good enough until the product is modified and relaunched. It isn’t enough to develop a product whose idea is pure brilliance if it isn’t designed well enough to ease the life of the user instead of complicating it.

Kyle Tanczos 6:07:09 1/21/2014

Very interesting article. This chapter made me analyze certain application and objects I use in daily life and reconsider how they came about and why they were created that way. The process of design that goes into everything is daunting. All objects around us have been created with a specific purpose in mind

Ryan Ulanowicz 8:29:29 1/21/2014

Objects can be difficult to use, even things that seem as simple as doors. Two of the most important characteristics of good design are discoverability and understanding. Discoverability is it possible to discover what is possible with the object and understanding, “what does it all mean.” Everything that is made by people is designed, and we must focus on the way that things and people interact in order to create things that are easy to use. This is because machines are made by people but are only able to do what they are told, while people have creativity and experience built up over their years. Because of this people are blamed when machines are used incorrectly, when it could be the way the machine is designed. If this is a mission-critical application, lives could be at stake. Much of this is because products are made by engineers who focus on technical aspects while blaming users who don’t read manuals for mistakes. One way to issues like this human-centered design (HCD) that puts human characteristics and needs first in the design process to make products are hopefully easier to use. Products have affordances, which are the properties that determine what the product could possibly be used for. The book uses glass, it’s for seeing through and for breaking. And when we see a new object our mind creates a conceptual model. For simple things that are limited in function this can be an easy task, however the more complicated the harder it becomes. If we wish to make a good product that is easy to use we must assist in making a good conceptual model for the user and making things visible so that they are easy to use. The author gives an example of a refrigerator that contains a freezer and two temperature controls. However both of them do not work as there is only one cooling unit. The designer may have thought of this ass too complex and lied to the user to make things “easier.” He uses the “modern” phone as a device that doesn’t make things visible. Instead it makes things harder to use, because it contains different ways to do the same function but no easy way to tell either. This is a lack of visibility. The author presents mapping as another important part of design, it is the relationship between an action of the user and result of the machine. Then there is feedback that presents the user with information at what they have done. This is important because feedback trains a user to understand and do something again. Poor designers make everything more complicated by not allowing the user a simple way to discover and engage something new. Technology provides us with a paradox, it gives us an ever increasing amount of a features but not real new ways to design and interact with things. That is that technology is supposed to get better and make our lives better but sometimes it just gets more complicated and harder to use.

Aamir Nayeem (aan14) 8:50:25 1/21/2014

Today's readings focused on the importance of a good design, as we had discussed in the first lectures with the example of the plane that crashed due to a poor control scheme. Often, people incorrectly blame themselves for not understanding technology that is unnecessarily difficult to learn/use and is certainly not intuitive; however, it should be left to the designer to create something easy to use. The reading then goes into definitions of concepts like mappings, affordances, and models to discuss which things are most important and must be taken into consideration to create a usable product. Unfortunately, however, good design also takes time, and is often achieved through many iterations (the cited number being six), which is only made more difficult by the fact that good ideas often die when the first person or company to design them does so poorly, as public perception of the concept is ruined. Even though the reading gets a bit redundant at points as the author tries to stress the importance of certain principles in design, it makes sense, as the best products, if designed poorly or made difficult for the end-user, will not be adopted, and many products even today are made unintuitively. Instead of adding functionality, it seems best to focus on the user's experience with a product, which is a design philosophy that Apple likes to boast about. Adding functionality that is not easy to use does not always add to the product, but it can often detract from it by making it more complex and foreign to the user. In general, my takeaway from this is to try and view a given project as an end user and then work towards making an easy-to-use interface possible, rather than to view it as a developer and think about what functionality I can add during the process.

Brett Lilley 8:51:47 1/21/2014

The Psychology of Everyday Things looks into the design, intentions, functionality, and psychology behind objects humans interact with on a daily basis. These “things” that we interact with regularly range from simple objects with a very specific and narrow purpose to complex items with a very broad variety of functions. Contrary to what many people may initially believe about these things, as the author points out, sometimes far more complex objects are much easier to operate than simple objects. What the author gives as reasons behind this are the topics that the article talks about, and it ultimately boils down to how well the object was designed. The author discusses the importance of the affordances (or purposes), how better visibility and a good conceptual model lead to a good design for an object, and how mapping and feedback between the object and the user influence user behavior. Throughout the reading the author continuously points out objects that he has interacted with that have had both good and bad designs, have had both complex and simple functions, and how frustrating (or lack of frustration) such items lead to. I believe that this reading was assigned to us as programmers because as programmers, we can to the design concepts discussed in the reading and apply them to designing and programming android applications. Visibility of features in an app will allow users to see buttons and views to interact with, leading to a more enjoyable experience with the app. Additionally, apart from the design of an app, having a well defined functionality and purpose of the app before and during implementation of an app (or any program) will allow a specific market for the product to be reached. Although this last thought wasn’t directly discussed in the reading, I was able to easily infer it from concepts discussed in The Psychology of Everyday Things.

Bret Gourdie 8:54:41 1/21/2014

Today's reading is a section on human interfaces, in which the author explains how an intuitive one yields pleasure and joy for users when crafting a good one as well as despair and frustration for badly-crafted ones. The author makes great pains to note the design of scissors and how they require no instruction to use at all, even providing fault tolerance for slightly incorrect use. The author then explains how these designs can go wrong with a fridge using a poorly abstracted set of instructions as well as the multiple functions of phones that go unused each day if only due to their obtuse directions. The author concludes by stating the obvious: good design is hard! Just because something is complicated does not mean one can skimp on the interface; if anything, it is exponentially more important to make a good one. After reading Joel Spolsky's articles on user interface design, I have to agree that it is quite paramount to selling a popular product.

Matthew O' Hanlon 8:55:17 1/21/2014

The design of things is critically important, especially since there is such competition for the use of devices and software applications. The author pointed out that people need visual cues that fit into a functioning model for users to flatten their learning curve for the device. Any device or object to be used should be designed such that the simple operations should not need any additional instruction, but this is not the case for many household and business items. Designers would do well to take note of how most people use things and software. Since most people have a derived model for the operation of devices and software, one that is also visually derived, it makes sense that the design of most things should provide a cue that conforms to a general model and affords visibility into the operations. Most users will give up attempting to learn how to use a device if they don’t receive some visual response to some action they have performed. Having visibility prevents this from happening most of the time because users will try different use models if they have them.

Megan Ziegler 8:58:24 1/21/2014

"The Psychopathology of Everyday Things" is about design flaws we assume are unfixable in common technologies, from washing machines to doors. One such important design characteristic is visibility, in which the proper use should be clearly visible to a new user. Though this seems simple, it's easy to get caught up in the idea of form or elegance over function and overlook ease of use. Another issue is the addition of many unnecessary features, which overcomplicates usage and makes visibility even worse. To understand where flaws come from and to fix them, one must study their characteristics, such as affordances. Affordances are percieved qualities of an object. Using materials or objects that afford the correct qualities for the job can greatly improve visibility. From this, once can build a conceptual model of how an object works and begin to use it properly. This can easily be applied to interface design for a virtual program: Icons or button placements are the affordances, and laying them out and labeling them correctly makes a program much easier to use.