In this week’s reading, I learned about the creation of user-friendly design. Chapter one from Donald Normans book “The Design of Everyday Things” describes various creative user-friendly designs, in addition to those which lack ease of use. A few key elements of design include: visibility of the product’s dynamics, affordances, mapping, and natural mapping(Norman, 2002). These elements are essential for creating a great design. Another important issue the chapter discusses is the frustrations over everyday products and how challenging the products can be to understand. Some of these difficult products are: telephone systems, doors that are not properly mapped out, and issues concerning temperature change in refrigerators. A telephone described in the reading had many more operations than it had buttons to push. Whenever the amount of options a device has exceeds the amount of buttons on the product, the arbitrarily-designed device is prone to user confusion.
A key element of the reading that interested me was the seat control for the Mercedes-Benz. The Mercedes-Benz allows the user to have full control and visibility over all seat controls. Mercedes achieves this by placing the seat switches appropriately on the driver’s side door. I have owned a total of six cars in my life, and none of those cars have had such a simple way of generating quick comfort for the driver. In fact, my current car, which is new, will not even remember the previous seat position after it has been moved once. In other words, if I decide to move my seat to place groceries in the back of my car, I then have to sit down and move the seat around until I am able to find the correct position, which sometimes takes longer than imagined.
The end of chapter 1 discusses internal and external knowledge. Donald Norman explains that internal knowledge (in the head) is here now and gone later. External knowledge however, is knowledge that is always around us waiting to be used. This idea helped me realize that there is a reason we clean our homes the way we do. There are also reasons why we put dishes in specific cabinets, books in a particular order, or work supplies on certain shelves. It is external knowledge that helps individuals create an organized structure, and that organized structure reminds us what is accessible.
Norman, D. A. (2002). The Design of Everyday Things. Basic Books.