Sketching, Storyboarding, and Critique

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Reading Critiques

Nate Patton 9:25:07 1/20/2016

It definitely makes me think about how the design of a light switch makes it easy to use. My 1 year old daughter can use a lot of things. Now every time I see her do something, I'll actually notice how the design of the object helps the easy-of-use.

Charlotte Chen 16:03:32 1/20/2016

The article provides really insightful information on the design philosophy behind the designs of everyday objects. The conceptual model helps predict the effect of an action, then we make sure the correct parts of our design are visible to our users to ensure usability. The author's uses of the Boston Hotel door and the refrigerator examples effectively communicate his arguments. The two fundamentals does relate well to mobile interface design, such as the idea behind the swiping motion and the location of certain buttons on modern day cellphones that are easy for users to adapt. The Paradox of Technology section is the most relevant to this class. The author pointed out an important fact that modern days technologies have more and more functionalities, but to have our design to continue to make sense to our users, we can't infinitely increase the complexity of the design of our product. That's why clever and clean design matters, to minimize complexity even with increasing functionalities.

Zane Hernandez 19:25:25 1/20/2016

POET outlines a lot of examples of bad designs and gives many tips on how to design object interfaces so that users know how to use them at first glance. I think that a lot of these principles could be applied to creating an app. For example, one thing that has caused a big rift in UX designers is the hamburger menu. I think the hamburger menu violates the visibility principle outlined in POET: it is often used by app designers as the "junk drawer" and it hides available options from the user.

Luke 19:29:44 1/20/2016

I found it rather intriguing, the most interesting part to me was the point about visibility. I found the examples, especially the door example relevant and I can see using the idea of visibility in my apps by making it obvious on what it is doing and how the app works by providing visual clues.

John Phillips 20:42:46 1/20/2016

I thought the reading was very interesting, especially the parts on how people typically figure out how things work. On one hand, there are some natural mappings that are innate where the controls physically mirror the action being performed (such as moving something up and down to control the volume). Then, there are things that are learned, but we still do unconsciously (such as looking at where the hinges on a door are to figure out which side opens). Additionally, I liked how well the author illustrated the point that many things are confusing because the number of actions exceeds the number of controls (multi-function phones). When things don't have many more actions than there are controls (like in a car), it is much easier to create an intuitive interface.

Daniel Hui 20:48:03 1/20/2016

This article provides a unique perspective to the causes of human error. It claims that there are ways that people interact with and interpret the use of objects and materials differently. Thus, making it more difficult for certain mindsets to appropriately learn how to use everyday things. The conceptual models and the design section of the article are useful and applicable to software design because it's important to understand how the users will use the software. How they will think, and their behaviors. By putting yourself in the user's shoes as you design software you will question every step you take throughout SDLC to understand how the user will try and use certain functionalities of the software.

Michael Oles 21:40:21 1/20/2016

I think the author made some very good points about design. I think the idea that function should take precedent over beauty is important for designing apps. Users prefer apps that work easily and consistently over apps that have a lot of features but are confusing to use even if they are beautifully designed. I also thought the U curve of complexity was a very interesting idea and now that smartphones have become more common and simple, we have to be careful not to make them more complex when trying to improve them.

Tiffany Martrano 21:48:55 1/20/2016

The reading for today talked a lot about how to make things easy to understand and use for a variety of users. It talked about the complexities of objects, and how anyone can get confused by instructions or the visibility of an item. The reading went through different ways on how to design interfaces that are easy for users to understand and use by addressing common problems that people face when using new technologies or objects.

Alex LaFroscia 21:49:02 1/20/2016

One of the things that I really identified with in this reading was the idea that designs need to be verified with users before being finalized. I see this when designing user interfaces at my job very often; as the team building the product, we have a deeper understanding of how the software is supposed to work than our customers do, and that often distracts us from making user-friendly decisions. We often have to take a step back and re-evaluate whether or not some feature or design is simple and easy enough for our users to understand, especially since many of them are non-technical. It's easy to fall into a situation like the washing machine that the author talked about, where there are so many powerful features but bad UX prevents it from being useful. As a UX engineer, this is always something that needs to be kept in mind.

Max Benson 22:27:40 1/20/2016

The author's concept of "natural symbols" is very interesting, as design features that speak to the functionality of the tool without having to be explicitly interpreted by the user. I would think users' prior experience with similar tools would have a lot to do with what could be construed as a natural symbol, as it seems like these symbols would convey the function of an object primarily through their likeness in form to other tools with the same function. To use the author's example, someone who has never gone through a "push" door before would probably not be able to tell the direction in which the door opens just from a horizontal handle on that door. The author does exaggerate a little, I think, in describing the complexity in new telephone systems, but I do agree with his point that the use of fundamentally simple features is often overcomplicated by designers who have no user perspective on what they're designing. I think this too stems from the degree of familiarity with the device. Designers can't grasp the fact that their products aren't intuitive to use because they are intimately familiar with those products--they already know them inside and out. Users, on the other hand, especially of new or redesigned products, think these products are too complex or downright non-functional because they don't have the look and feel of products they are used to.

Andrew Lucas 23:18:58 1/20/2016

The author makes some good points about the trade-off between functionality and complexity. In some cases, the added functionality is required or desired by the user, but in most of the examples that the author presented, the addition of complex capabilities was entirely unnecessary. Conversely, the primary purpose of modern smart phones is arguably to provide a single device that can perform as many different functions as possible, which makes the author's points even more applicable. I would argue that the solution to the complexity problem is modularity. Users can install many different applications, each of which, ideally has a focused, if not simple function. The apps are spatially separated in the interface allowing the user to visually distinguish their functions.

Xinhai Xu 23:33:21 1/20/2016

This piece of reading inspires designer to explore customer needs to solve frustration they face everyday. And set up a good conceptual model all the way to a successful product.

Joshua Fisher 23:33:53 1/20/2016

I thought this section of The Psychology of Everyday Things was an extremely interesting article. While this article did not discuss designing applications, the points made are applicable to designing applications today. The ideas of making controls visible and using natural mapping will be crucial when designing android applications. We want to make sure that users can easily navigate through our applications, since usually apps don't come with user manuals.

Robert webb 12:19:22 1/21/2016

I thought that it really nailed home points about good design practice.

Sarah Dubnik 1:41:40 1/21/2016

I enjoyed this reading. It brought up many ideas that seem so simple and obvious, yet probably never cross the minds of most people. The many personal anecdotes and examples made it a fun read as well. I liked the concepts of visibility and natural design, the idea of a control mimicking its intended result. I was also intrigued by the idea of the psychology of materials (even though that's not as relevant to this class) - it was interesting how the wooden shelters were destroyed much less than the glass-reinforced ones. Hopefully I can learn how to apply some of the ideas from this reading to the class project as well as to future work.

Dustin Chlystek 2:24:37 1/21/2016

The writer made some good points about the design of products and how they can be stupid, but I also feel like he didn't have an answer to many of the problems. He never talked about how hard it could be (or easy) to change that product into something more functional. Who's to say that the current model isn't the best available? I feel like he starts to actually do more than just complain towards the end. Other than his last few section, I feel like each section could have been summed up in just a paragraph.

Adhyaksa Pribadi 6:44:17 1/21/2016

The first thing you should think about is what goes on in the head of your users when they first see your product. Make the interface easy to understand and use

Yijia Cui 7:02:38 1/21/2016

This reading did provide me with lots of inspirations of design of every-day things. The author emphasizes that the frustration of failure to use things should blame things themselves, not the people who use that. People should not put up with frustrations that they can’t use the things, and also not even smart people can’t use all the functionalities. By taking a tour of his friends’ and his memories, the author shows the unhappy experience with the every-day things, and introduces the importance of visibility, one of the most principles of design. The visibility contains the visibility of operations and also the outcome of operations. With visibility, the correct path can be shown, and also the correct messages can be conveyed. Furthermore, the author states that poor instructions are caused by the failure to map. Mapping between what you want to do and what appears to be possible. And also, the author talks about the principle of mapping, which can help people know how to use things, and the results of their controls and movements. In the reading, the author also introduces affordance, the perceived and actual properties of the thing, primarily those fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used, the constrains, the limit of what users can achieve, and also the importance of a good conceptual model that allows users to predict the effects of our actions. I really like the ideas of the psychology of everyday things, and think that those principles and thoughts are good guidelines for designer to make things easier to use.

John Riesenberger 7:31:46 1/21/2016

Today we were assigned to read the first chapter of "The Psychology of Everyday Things". The chapter began by outlining a series of hurdles and predicaments that either the author themselves has been found in, or has been told of by his colleagues. They all stem from design faults; one example was how he has routinely found himself struggling with doors due to a failure to apply adequate mappings or give enough visibility to whether or not the door should be pushed, or pulled, and from where. Another example he used was again with doors, where they sacrifice visibility of the supporting pillars of a door in order to make the door more elegant, and in doing so, reduce the usability of the door by not appropriately indicating from where one should push. Additionally, in a similar case, he mentioned a slide projector which contained only a single button with no visible markings to indicate it's use. He had to delay his lecture for 15 minutes, and still struggled to operate the machine during the lecture, as he found the slide would move in seemingly random directions during it's use. Only later did he find that a long press would move forward, while a short press would move backwards. Of particular interest in this chapter was his outline of conceptual models, and the double-bike graphic he paired with it. It describes how, when the human mind sees and interprets some object, we immediately create a conceptual model in our head to determine how an object might function. In this way, our mind could piece together that the double-bike model illustrated on the following page would seemingly be inoperable. He goes on to illustrate the point that when designing anything, we must strive to provide a good conceptual model, which will in turn allow end users to easily understand how some object might work and be used.

Ish Davis 7:51:35 1/21/2016

The readings today we're very interesting and have given me a much better knowledge of design principles and the process. One of the things that I found most interesting was the idea of affordances, which is the relationship between an object and whatever is interacting with it. The thing that I found interesting is that the same object could provide different affordances depending on what is interacting with it. For example a chair could provide the affordance to sit, but to those people that can pick up the chair it has the affordance of being lifted.

Alexandra Krongel 8:03:20 1/21/2016

Firstly, the blurry distinction between knowledge and information was interesting to me. The idea of knowledge being held within the space of the world itself for those epic poets reminded me of the idea of spatial memory from the brainstorming reading. Perhaps later in the book he might talk more about this boundary space; if I were to guess, I think he might advocate for thinking about that boundary as more of a meeting point than as a distinction, where we might conceptualize one as an extension of another. A lot of the the design principles he talks about I have seen in the context of web design theory. Visibility is always emphasized because if you don't see something, you're not going to be able to use it. Inheriting an interface or general design from something with a similar function is one way to signal visually what something might do. The idea of affordances operates in a similar way - for apps, it might be something like buttons are for pushing and textboxes are for typing. These should give feedback too, to avoid the problems he discusses at the end including lack of visual causality, and also because users don't want to go read directions every time they want to do something simple.

Bogdan Kotzev 8:09:47 1/21/2016

I understand how important a simple design can be. However, I don't think you can design everything to be easy to use. For simple things, simple design is key, for more complicated technology, you are going to have to live with learning how to use them.

Amukher14 8:46:13 1/21/2016

Overall I enjoyed learning about what the chapter had to say about making good designs. I was glad to see I'm not the only that gets confused opening doors sometimes. Although on a negative point I felt as though I didn't really learn how to design better. I felt he just put words to concepts of designs that I already thought about. For example I know Mapping is an important part of creating effective user interfaces. But he didn't go into much detail in how to make an intuitive interface mapping in practice. He just gave examples of good ones.

Clark Nicolas 8:50:14 1/21/2016

At my workplace, without fail there is always at least one person every day who opens the door in the wrong direction when leaving. This excerpt put into perspective the importance of simple, intelligent design, and how the design of even the most basic things can go awry.