Log 4a: Reading analysis.

Work being analyzed: the last three chapters of Norman’s DOET.

Upon reading the last three chapters, I got an idea of how the book was supposed to teach us. We were supposed to suffer through and learn all the trials and tribulations of technology these days and then use the knowledge of the frustrations of the everyday user to make our designs easier and more comprehensive. As designers, we need to be fully aware of the affordances and object has, comon mistakes people make, and how to make any object comprehensive and user-friendly.

Chapter 5 gave a detailed description of the errors people make all the time. Most of them fall under the categories of slips. Norman defines slips as an “automatic behavior problem” that occurs when someone intends to do one thing and does another. Norman categorizes these slips as follows:
– Capture Errors: When two actions with similar beginnings, one of them will overtake the other.
– Description Errors: When two objects are physically alike, you may use the intended action on the wrong object.
– Data-Driven Errors: recalling the wrong piece of data.
– Associate Activation Errors: Event activates a similar but wrong response.
– Loss of Activation Errors: Forgetting to do something, or part of something.
– Mode Errors: When objects have multiple modes and we do something in the wrong mode.

Reading these errors, made my laugh. Some of these exaples are funny and a lot of them are the same kind of mistakes I have previously made.. Everyone has. I never once associated these kind of everyday mistakes to design. But it is important to realize that mistakes will happen no matter what. It is our job as the designers to make sure that the errors are easily recognized and fixed, as well as making a lot of them preventable. I’ve deleted, saved over or messed up enough projects in my lifetime to know that it is a lot more convenient to have less of those happen. Just the other day, I was working on a project and saved it. I had to do another copy, so I left the same window up and figured I would hit the Save As button to make a duplicate Illustrator Document. As it turns out, I hit the Save button instead. Without it asking if I was sure I wanted to do this, I lost the first copy and had to do that once more. I just saw “save” and made a description error. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased. Like a good friend, technology should make us aware and stop us if we are about to make a huge mistake. it is the designer’s responsibility to make technology into our reliable friend.

We can’t make mistakes disappear, but what we can do to quell the amount of errors are the following (as written by Norman):
1. Understand what causes errors so we can minimize them.
2. Make it possible to undo actions.
3. Make it easier to see when we made mistakes, as well as make them easy to fix.

With these ideas, we are making life easier for us. Feedback on our actions and errors need to be obvious. The red and green lines on Microsoft Word are incredibly helpful in determining whether I have made an error in spelling and grammar. As a graphic design student, I would absolutely die if “Command + Z” didn’t exist. It is the easiest way to undo an action that I have seen in a while. Just a minute ago, I used my Tide to Go stick. The feedback was the chocolate stain appearing on my shirt, and the Tide stick acted as my undo button. The stain is gone.

Mistakes happen all the time, and good design is a key part in making it all better again.

Chapter 6 continued to talk more about designing for the user. Designers in the world will always be in high demand in the workplace, it seems. Design is a long lasting process. With each object that is designed, mistakes are alays found and it is our job to constantly be editing these mistakes and making them as close to perfection as humanly possible.

This chapter also taught me a key thing about y furture career choice as a graphic designer. A designer can make something aesthetically pleasing. A really good designer knows how to balance aesthetics with usability. The two need to be balanced because if one dominates, then problems are to arise. Those glass doors that Norman’s friend couldn’t figure out how to open? Well, they were made with a priority for aesthetics. If the usuability factor were justa s high, he would have no problem opening those doors.

While this limits how super pretty somethingg can be made, it’s a necessary evil. Norman notes that sometimes designers focus their attention on the wrong part of an object while a vital part gets ignored. Sometimes they will keep adding more and more features until an object becomes impossible to use. Sometimes, they make it more complex because it looks cool.

These are the temptations that everybody faces. However, we have to learn not to fall into that trap beause then we won’t get anywhere.

Chapter 7 talked about discussed what Norman called user-centered design. User-centered design is the belief that items should be designed with the user’s needs and interests in mind, and therefore should be user-friendly.

He went over many of the temems previously discussed in the book. For example, Norman listed what design should do for the user:
1. It should be easy to see the affordances at a moment’s glance.
2. Everything should be visible: the conceptual model, the alternative actions, and the results.
3. Make it easy to evaluate the current state of the system.
4. Follow natural mappings between intentions and required actions.

It couldn’t be stressed enogh in this book how important visibility is. It needed to give the affordances, to allow the user to see visual mappings, to recieve feedback, so that we can see that we are using an object correctly.

Another big issue was simplification. While complex objects look cool, no one will know how to use them. Norman also listed principles for making difficult tasks easier.
1. Use both knowledge in your head and knowledge in the world.
2. simplify the structure of tasks.
3. make things visible.
4. get the mappings right.
5. exploit the power of constraints
6. design for error.

The final chapter has given us a summary, and a hope that Norman has given us the correct philosophy in maing us better designers. I think he has succeeded. I persoanlly look at things different for their affordances and their constraints. My glass can hold water. But it can only hold up to the brim before it spills over. My purse can only hold so much before the zipper breaks and the seams split. Everything is intended to be designed for the users benefit, and I see that a lot clearer now.

Source: Norman, Donald A. The Design of Everyday Things.

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