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425: HCI 1 The Psychopathology of Everyday Things. Today's Forecast. Lecture: The Psychopathology of Everyday Things ICE: Everyday Thing (Critiquing) Field Trip! AWE: Norman on Design (if time permits ...). Homework.

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425: HCI 1The Psychopathology ofEveryday Things

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Today's Forecast

  • Lecture: The Psychopathology of Everyday Things

  • ICE: Everyday Thing (Critiquing) Field Trip!

  • AWE: Norman on Design (if time permits ...)

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  • To find out what's due when, turn to the Schedule page of your trusty course web site:

    • rachmiel.org/425

  • That's the second time I mentioned this ...

    • Since everyone's hanging onto every word I say, I shouldn't have to mention it ever again.

      • So I won't!

      • From now on you're on your own re: homework and due dates. ;-)

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Psy-cho-pa-tho-lo-gy ... ?

  • Psychopathology: the study of mental disorders.

    • The Psychopathology of Everyday Things is an allusion to Freud's classic book Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

      • Study of errors humans make in their everyday lives

        • forgetting names, speech mistakes, Freudian slips

    • Norman’s chapter, like Freud’s book, deals with errors humans make.

      • Only Norman’s errors are in the realm of using everyday things.

    • Catalogue d'objets introuvable (Catalog of Unfindable/Impossible Objects)

      • series of books by French artist Jacques Carelman depicting everyday things that are deliberately unusable, outrageous, ill-formed, paradoxical, just plain stupid!

      • The teapot on the cover of DOET is from this.

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Engineering Degree Required?

  • "Kenneth Olsen, the engineer who founded and still runs Digital Equipment Corp., confessed at the annual meeting that he can't figure out how to heat a cup of coffee in the company's microwave oven."

  • – Wall Street Journal

Is this shocking?

Why / why not?

Should it be?

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Engineering Degree Required?

  • Human brains are brilliant at making sense of the world.

    • It’s what / we / do.

  • So why do we make so many mistakes using everyday devices?

    • cell phones

    • dvd players

    • car heaters

    • mechanical pencils

    • stovetop burners

  • Sometimes the mistakes come from our lack of attention.

  • But, surprisingly often, they come from poor device design.

    • In other words: It’s (often) not your fault!

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The Frustrations of Everyday Life

  • Having a hard time doing everyday things is frustrating.

    • Good visibility and feedback raises usability, lowers frustration.

      • More on this soon ...

Should (all) everyday things be easy/convenient to perform?

Is there any upside to them NOT being easy/convenient?

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The Psychology of Everyday Things

  • Psychology: the study of the human mind.

    • So, the psychology of everyday things is the study of how the human mind interacts with the everyday things around it.

    • The original title of DOET: The Psychology of Everyday Things.

      • Norman really liked this, especially because of its acronym: POET.

      • Alas, sales fell because designers steered clear of a book with "psychology" in its title, and bookstores often misplaced it in the Psychology/Self Help section.

      • So he compromised and renamed it: The Design of Everyday Things.

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The Big Six Normanisms

  • Affordances

  • Constraints

  • Visibility

  • Mapping

  • Feedback

  • Conceptual model

The Big Six Normanisms

Know them.

Use them.

Love them.

They will serve you well,

both in this class ...

and beyond!

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  • Affordance: a property of a device that enables it to be used.

    • The grip of a pistol affords holding.

    • The barrel sight affords aiming.

    • The trigger affords pulling (and shooting).

  • Subjective / objective affordances

    • Subjective (perceived) affordances of a pistol include: holding, aiming, and shooting .

    • Objective affordances: hammer a nail into wood, use as a paperweight, hang by a wire from the ceiling as a mobile.

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  • Constraint: a property of a device that limits its usage.

    • The trigger guard of a pistol constrains the number of fingers that can be used to pull the trigger to one (or perhaps two).

    • The physical relationship between the grip and the trigger constrains which finger(s) can be used to pull the trigger (e.g., not the thumb).

    • The engineering of the trigger constrains the direction it can be moved (backward).

  • Misperception: Constraint = bad = missing functionality

    • On the contrary, intelligent use of constraints can greatly increase and simplify an object’s usability.

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  • Visibility: the degree to which a device's intended use is visible (apparent) to the user.

    • The shape of a pistol (grip, barrel, trigger) makes the way it is intended to be held quite visible.

    • The location and movement of the trigger guard and trigger make the act of pulling the trigger reasonably visible.

    • The long straight barrel with a hole in one end makes the act of shooting the pistol somewhat, though by no means clearly, visible.

  • * start at ~ 6:00

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  • Mapping: the relationship between the controls of a device (knobs, switches, levers, buttons, pedals, keys, etc.) and what these controls can be used for.

    • Consider the mappings of a pistol:

      • The grip maps to holding the pistol.

      • The barrel sight maps to aiming.

      • The trigger maps to shooting.

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Natural Mapping, Natural Design

  • Natural mapping: a mapping that uses physical analogies and cultural standards to make it easy to understand.

    • The shape of a pistol and everyday laws of physics make it clear that the barrel of a pistol should be pointed at the intended target.

    • The engineering of the trigger guard (lots of space in front of the trigger, very little behind) make it clear that the trigger should be pulled backwards to shoot.

    • The safety switch, on the other hand, is not naturally mapped, and for this reason users must work at learning how to use it properly.

  • Natural design: design that makes use of natural mappings.

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  • Feedback: information a device communicates back to users about actions they have taken.

    • Feedback shows users the effects of their actions.

    • Setting a pistol safety switch to its on or off position might produce an audible feedback click or a palpable drop into a slot.

    • Loading a bullet properly in the breach might produce an audible and palpable snap.

    • Shooting produces an audible report and palpable recoil.

  • Without clear and timely feedback, users can feel lost, clueless, annoyed, unsure how to proceed.

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Conceptual Models

  • Conceptual model: a mental image of how a device works.

    • There are two types of conceptual models:

      • Design model

        • the designer's mental image, emerges from designing the device

      • User's model

        • the user's mental image, emerges from interacting with device

    • In general, the closer the user's model is to the design model for a device, the more understandable the device is for the user.

    • The design and user's models for a pistol are very similar: a pistol is a device that shoots bullets at targets.

    • The models diverge to some extent when it comes to details: how to load the bullets, how to use the safety, how to minimize recoil, etc.

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ICE: Big Six Normanisms

  • Coalesce into groups of 4-6.

  • Pick an everyday thing in the classroom.

  • Analyze it in terms of its Big Six Normanisms:

    • affordances

    • constraints

    • visibility

    • mapping

    • feedback

    • conceptual models (design, user's)

  • Preeeeeesent!

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20,000 Everyday Things

  • We are surrounded by things.

    • about 20,000 - 30,000 of them

  • How do we cope with using so many things?

    • KITH - Knowledge in the Head

    • KITW - Knowledge in the World

    • Good conceptual models

    • And, above all: GOOD USABILITY DESIGNERS!

Sp'ICE: How many classroom things can you count in 30 seconds?

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Make Things Visible

  • When a device's # possible actions > its # controls

    • Visibility tends to get dicey.

    • Usability problems often ensue.

Name some devices whose # possible actions > # controls.

Is their visibility/usability compromised?

How might you improve the visibility/usability?

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Design for Understandability and Usability

  • Two fundamental principles of designing successfully for human users:

    • Provide a good conceptual (user's) model.

    • Make things visible.

  • Get these two right and you're well on your way to designing a usable product.

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Provide a Good Conceptual Model

  • “… the most important part of a successful design is the underlying conceptual model.” – Norman

  • Why?

    • Because good conceptual models enable users:

      • To mentally simulate operation

      • To predict effects of their actions

      • To incorporate existing knowledge

      • To use metaphors

      • To feel the object in their gut

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Pity the Poor Designer ...

  • Designing well for all parties concerned is very difficult!

    • Designers want something that’s fun/challenging to build.

    • Manufacturers want something that’s cheap to build.

    • Retailers want something that’s sexy and will attract customers.

    • Repair people wants something that can be fixed easily.

    • Safety commission wants something that can’t harm humans.

    • User wants it all: fun, cheap, sexy, easily fixed.

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The Paradox of Technology

  • New technologies make life easier.

  • New technologies make life more complex.

  • How do 1 and 2 get along with each other?

    • Well, as our Uncle Marshall McLuhan taught us:

      • The rise of a new technology means the decline (or, in some cases, extinction) of the technology it replaces

      • Thus every new technology represents a gain and loss

        • This is the “price” of technology

Name some examples, old and new, of TPoT in action.

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  • Everyday Thing (Critiquing) Field Trip!

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  • Donald Norman at BoS 2009 Conference, Part 1