Log 1a: Reading Analysis.

Work Being Analyzed: Chapter 1 of The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

As time passes, technology gets more advanced, and aesthetic begins to change into something more modern.

However, what good is a sleek, modern door if no one knows how to go through it? As a designer, it is important not only to please the customer’s aesthetic taste, but to make the products and technologies simple and usable.

Norman brings up visibility and a number of points that are important to maintaining visibility, and therefore, a good design.

Visibility is one of the most important aspects, visibility addresses the consumer’s need to be able to see the key components in making the product function. For example, a door needs to give the user a clue as to how to open it: handles, designed correctly to designate whether it must me pushed or pulled, correct placement to know which side of the door in unhinged, therefore letting the door move as a force is acted upon it (Norman 4-5).

On proponent of visibility is the use of natural signals, parts that are easily interpreted by the consumer in order to  approach and use the product. This is important in design, for it is flawed should the consumer have to stop and think at any point (Norman 4).

Another proponent of visibility is the idea of affordances. In design, affordances is another way to say “is for.” Each part on a piece of technology needs to be for something. Otherwise, the piece becomes arbitrary and already begins to confuse the user. If there is no need for a certain knob or an extra button, then it shouldn’t be included in the final design (Norman 9).

The visibility also should allow users to see the constraints and mappings of the item. Constraints limit the ways an item can be used. This simplifies things for the user; they now know what they cannot do, leaving only the correct way to use a product (Norman 12).
Mapping displays the relationship between the object and it’s actions to it’s results. It links what the user wants to do and what it possible. It works along with constraints and affordances to give the user the easiest time possible using and object (Norman 9-12).
To demonstrate these three ideas, Norman used scissors as an example (12-13). The holes in the handle afford a place for your fingers to go through and hold. The size of the holes act as a contraint, demonstrating how many fingers can fit in each hole.  The mappings of the handle allow for up and down movement, to start moving the scissor’s blades as well (Norman 12-13).

Norman goes on to explain how these ideas are needed in what are called conceptual models (13). Creating a conceptual model first fits right in to the idea of visibility: if the designer can’t even see what they’re making, they’d be working blindly and they themselves would be unable to figure out what to do if something should go wrong (Norman 14-16).

The goal of the first chapter was to give readers a better idea of what a designer does. While they do make things according to how eye-pleasing it is, they must also concentrate on how it works, if it’s usable, it will be able to sell because of both its looks and it’s functionality. The concepts mentioned above really are vital into the design of objects. Technology will keep growing and expanding, but what good is that if people have no idea what to do with it?
Daily life would get increasingly more complicated. This idea of visibility is the most obvious and helpful way to use anything around us. Without this visibility, simple tasks like walking through doors or using a pair of scissors would be more complicated and a lot more time-consuming. Therefore, which each day that goes by, we would get less and less productive, which would start a giant backslide from the technological advances that have been made.

Source: Norman, Donald A. The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, 1988.


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