Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 3 Learning Log: WHAT?

Constraints are the main point here in chapter four. Physical, semantic, cultural and logical. Physical are just a given - will this object fit through this hole? Semantic are conventions that should be followed by the user - in order to use the object. Cultural are dependent on the region or area where you might be. These can be the root of many problems. Misinterpretations and confusion are associated with cultural constraints. Logical constraints are the understood conventions for an object, etc... It depends on the layout or mapping of the object. It should be easily understood. 
Switches and controls on an audio mixing board can be easily understood but must be labeled for the user to control the surface accurately. There are bad examples of switch design also. The feedback of an object is important to understand also. The visibility has also to do with this. TBC... See next post

Week 3 Learning Log:

The last post was from week 3 not 2

Week 2 Learning Log: In the head

Knowledge and adaptability are two different things. In "The Design of Everyday Things" in chapter three, Norman talks about typing on a keyboard- I was not taught formally to type on a keyboard - I was a "hunt and peck" typist. I learned over time, though to type faster and faster. I can almost type fully without looking at the keyboard. I only learned this through a process of learning and almost through a process of elimination. This is know as procedural knowledge. - It hard or impossible to teach - it must be learned.
Its also funny to look at the diagram of all the possible combinations of pennies - You would assume that you would know which one is correct intuitively - Because we use them in our everyday lives. When I look at the diagram with a friend, neither of us could guess the correct penny design. 
Short term memory and long term memory are what have been classified as the the two types. STM is more fragile and is used in everyday tasks, etc... There are billions of units that make up our LTM - They are memories of the past. Looking at the three main areas of memory is interesting - I had never thought about it before. - for arbitrary things, for meaningful relationships, and for explanation. I had never thought about memory this way, but putting it in these terms makes sense.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Week 2 Learning Log: Bad Design, Continued

I thought of finding a couple of things around my apartment building that represented bad design. Then I remembered something that happened to me a couple of week prior: I was doing laundry as usual - The machines take quarters, so I bring what I need down the stair ever time I go back to change a load - But this time I did something different. I had excess quarters in my pocket and proceeded down the stairs - The washing cycle was not done but I thought I would just prepare the dryer for when I went back down (So I would not have to waste a minute loading each individual quarter while the wash was all ready to by dried). So, I loaded the quarters in the dryer and pushed the metal quarter loader into the machine. I came back down the stairs about a half hour later thinking the wash MUST be done by now! I then loaded the wet clothes into the dryer and pushed the "ON" button - nothing happened. I tryed again, pushing even harder on the on button, again nothing happened - It turned out that there must be a limit of time between when the quarters are loaded into the machine and the time when you press the on button on the dryer. There was nothing to indicate this on the machine - And I just lost my $ 2.00 ! Oh well now I felt stupid - But after reading chapter two of DOET I didn't feel so stupid. I can't blame myself for poor design.

Week 2 Learning Log: Bad Design

As I read the "Design of Everyday Things" it mentioned a projector design that was flawed. I immediately remembered an event that had happened earlier in the week in one of my other classes; Human adaptability. The teacher was showing a very old film on an old projector - We should have seen what was later to happen coming from a mile away. First the projector had to be loaded up with the real by a film tech - not a task that any laymen could accomplish. As the film played it made its usual noisy clicking sound that most projector make. Everything was going fine - but as the reel was three quarters of the way through playing - the empty real that the film wound into was filling up fast - soon the film was overlaping the new reel that it was unloading into - it seemed to be shifting out of line with the rest of the film - but the movie played on with no problem - As the reel finally ran out, the last frame came out of the reel and proceded to unravel - film all over the place - on the floor! - This is a prime example of bad design - way could there have been some mechenism that could stop this from happening? I don't have any idea! The user and even an expert did not anticipate this from happening. I am sure that some projectors have a fail safe that could prevent this from happening, but not in this case!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Common interfaces in my work space


I find what Gibson has concluded fascinating. He states; “…the affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. [5, p.127]” In this case WE are the animals and the natural environment that we are given is the computer interface (speaking in terms of the most common interface that we are using in our daily lives or at lease in this instance.) The natural boundaries that we are given are that of the lines, buttons and boundaries of the screen we look at. 
He goes on to say that, "The affordance does not change as the needs and goals of the actor change." In this case I (or we) am the actor. But the difference is that as an "actor" using the computer interface we are constantly changing the look, shape, and direction of the screen. This does not happen without work - that is moving our hands to control the mouse or keyboard to manipulate the screen. Gibson defines this as "environment mutuality." 
Norman's approach to affordances is slightly different. He does to believe that there is an inherent trait or use for the affordance he states, "...that perception by an individual may be involved in characterizing the existence of the affordance." that is that a chair may be picked up and that sitting in the chair may be this most obvious trait but not necessarily the only one. Norman does not believe that there is an importance of an "actor" That the affordances come only from the object. An important point relating to interface design; Norman believes, "that when designers take advantage of affordances, the user knows what to do just by looking." Gibson's ideas seem to be more black and white whereas Norman can identify the shades of grey. 
Other more contemporary theorists such as Gaver and Johnson give more varying definitions of affordance, but the more simple and direct approach to this seems to be the best. It seems like Norman agrees; “Sloppy thinking about the concepts and tactics often leads to sloppiness in design. And sloppiness in design translates into confusion for users. [18, p. 41]”
Speaking about nested affordances ; they are the layers or possible uses of an object or interface . When making shortcuts on a computer interface for example - adding a key command such as (control V) on a MAC to paste - this makes the affordance faster, therefore easier. 
Because the definition of affordances has such a wide meaning, it has almost become lost. Getting back to the most basic definition can help us in designing better interfaces. It seems like Gibson's can be the best because it has the most direct and minimal meaning.

Excerpts from Affordances: Clarifying and Evolving a Concept

Joanna McGrenere

Department of Computer Science

University of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario

Canada M5S 3G4

Wayne Ho

User-Centered Design

IBM Software Solutions Toronto Laboratory

1150 Eglinton Ave. East, Toronto, Ontario

Canada M3C 1H7

Test post

Introduction to interface design : Katherine Bennett. Kittie test post # 1