The Design of Everyday Things

This reading was great, pretty much because the author’s arguments were clear and direct to the point. In a nutshell, Norman delves into the concepts of usability and design in everyday objects (as the title indicates). 

He emphasizes the significance of design in everyday items and its impact on users’ experiences. One notable example was that of the poorly designed teapot with an unconventional spout and handle to illustrate how design flaws can lead to user frustration and usability issues.

One notable experience I am thinking of right now is this: 

Right-handed desks! I don’t know who designed this product, but I can definitely tell that they are right-handed. What about left-handed people? This product is a good example of how bad design can lead to user inconvenience. Back in high-school, we used to have this type of desks and it caused many issues for left-handed students. This design flaw made their learning experience more complicated.

Furthermore, Norman also introduces the concept of a “conceptual model,” which represents the mental image users have of how an object functions. He underscores that a good design should align with users’ mental models to minimize confusion and enhance usability.

Think of ATM machines for instance. Our mental model when it comes to using this machine is card > money > card. This model was enhanced so that users take their cards before money, in order not to forget it. Now imagine if a random ATM machine decided to randomly function by card > card > money. It will definitely be confusing and may cause many users to lose their cards.

Finally, the chapter underscores the importance of providing feedback to users and making the system’s state visible. Feedback allows users to understand the consequences of their actions and provides a sense of control, a critical aspect of user-centered design.

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