Response: “The Psychopathology of Everyday Things”

Before reading this chapter, I had no idea that my inability to open certain doors would be addressed as a bad design concept. I’ve noticed that I’ve walked into numerous doors only to take a step back to understand how exactly to open it. Once I genuinely thought I was locked inside the NYU Shanghai staircase because the door handle was locked when I tried to twist and pull. I had to text my friend to get me out of the staircase and when she came she told me to just push. Thanks for letting me know that my stupidity was because of bad designers, Norman!

I found the concept of discoverability very familiar. To me, it sounded like what we read about interaction. How is the agent interacting with the object. What is the relationship between these two items? The only difference to me seemed to be the fact that affordance needs to be useful. These affordances will determine what actions are possible. Norman then goes and talks about how signifiers are used to communicate where action should take place and that we need both affordance and signifiers. However, he also talks about how adding external signifiers that need to be added indicate bad design. I totally agree on the last point, but I wonder what the line is between when there is too much signifiers and when signifiers aren’t needed at all. I would think that it is very similar to when feedbacks are considered to be too much to point where it starts to annoy people.

Another point Norman made was about how engineers are bad designers because they think too logically, and not everyone can follow and interact with the product the way engineers want them to. I think this is where designers come in, but there is still a problem between what the designer want users to do vs what the user actually ends up doing with the product. There is still the burden of communication and I’m not sure where Norman would suggest to fix this problem. User testing? After all of Norman’s examples, it still amazes me how designers/companies still roll out with products like digital watches with buttons that aren’t labeled.

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