Monday, November 29, 2010

Design of Everyday things (Volume 1, Issue 8)

Hi DMark Readers,

DMark is back after a hiatus. During this time period it was in search of a deeper understanding of factors that differentiate between good and bad design. DMark would now like to delve deeper to present to its readers a better understanding of the "Design of everyday things". 

This weeks issue is based on the book "Design of Everyday things" written by Donald Norman.
Don's approach to design is quite different. He argues why the Human cognition, psychology  has to be factored while designing everyday things.

You might ask what these "Everyday things" are. They might be anything as simple as the switchboard (which has similar looking switches for lights/fans etc.)  or the doors (that need explicit "Push/Pull" instructions to operate).

There are tons and tons of articles and objects, around us, that needs to be used for our everyday tasks. Yet our brains subconsciously hides the complexity and helps us consciously work on the important tasks.

One example that Don quotes is that of a computer keyboard. There are tens of buttons on it, and yet we are able to subconsciously use it without consciously remembering position of every character on it .

As quoted by the author, in this example we present precise behavior based on imprecise knowledge.
Now you might ask where does design come into picture. Here is the answer. The keyboard has been designed to encode the information in the environment, so that the brain is offloaded from the task of remembering position( of the characters) and concentrate on the task of generating the content (to type).

Hence, design need not always have to do with aesthetics and plain functionality. The human emotion, cognition, psychology has to be catered to. 

So the next time you are confronted by a door and look for specific instructions to push or pull then you can blame the designer for not considering the end user :)

For more information on Donald Norman do follow the link:


PS: Your views and comments will be  greatly appreciated.