Everyday things–confusing

A few days ago, i borrowed some Norman series book from the library,  one of them is the design of everyday things. It was recommended by our lecturer to read the design of everyday things, because it has strong relation on interaction design concept. I should read the book because we will got exam on it, so need to read the concept deeply. The book was published in 1998 and 2000 (still don’t know the different besides the cover), I got the 1998 one. It was a long time ago, but still interesting to read. Donald norman is a professor emeritus in cognitive science of UCSD, he also co-founder of nielsennormangroup along with jacob nielsen and bruce tognazzini. His expertise areas are usability and cognitive psychology.

The interesting about the design of everyday things is,  many people blames their self every time they cannot operate or use a gadget. People feel embarrassed and frustrated when they dealing with confusing button on microvawe, the dvd player, projector, central heater, door that difficult to open,  in proper location light switches, and many everyday thing items. 

When we were in Sydney, stay in a hostel, and we don’t have any idea how to use a microwave oven, at that time we were so embarrassed and blame our self, in fact that we are using microwave at home and it’s very impossible that we can’t operate them. Another occasion, when I was sick and we went to hospital, we don’t know how to turn on the water from the wastafel–because we don’t have any clue how to do it, and our mental model is to turn, pull or push the button, but there is no button on it. When we were on exhibition, we want to go to the toilet, we were looking for ‘female’ and ‘male’ toilet, we saw the sign that said ‘toilet–left’, we scrolled to the left wing of the building, first door ‘female’, second ‘female’, third ‘female’ and fourth ‘handicap’, and the last one there were another sign that said ‘male toilet on the right wing of the building’, why they didn’t say it at the front. 

We cannot blame the user, since there are more than 20.000 everyday things, you can’t expect that you’ll be able to interact with them nicely. And if we need 1 minute for every object, which mean 20.000 minutes to learn all those things, and it is impossible to remember anything. The designer should be aware about the design issues, designer should put emphasis on usability and think as a user.  Designer is expert on how to design, while user is really good on how to do the task. Designer feel easy to use a particular things because they created it, and it is hard to find the flaws of the item. Designer also creates aesthetic and sophisticated item to attract user, but forget the functionality and effectivity. Just like in hospital wastafel, it’s designed to promotes hygiene by using a censor to activate the water, however, for who never knew about this ‘high tech’ wastafel will suffer. The flaw is, there is no indicator that told about the censor, and there is no clue at all. Some of beautiful things are not always useful and hard to operate, however most of ugly things are very useful and effective. Which one do you prefer?

Image source: http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0385267746.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

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