As I re-read Chapter 1 in The Design of Everyday Things, the following ideas struck me:
If you are interested in this idea, take a look at Computers as Theatre, by Brenda Laurel.
You have begun to explore how users can be frustrated by the design of everyday things and how they form a conceptual model of the things they use. You have read through Page 17 of The Design of Everyday Things. You have consider different types of users and different ways that users interact with a product.
Work in teams of three or four people based on the number in the upper right-hand corner of this page.
A well-known book on design for users defines eight "golden rules" of design for users:
Use this list of golden rules to do the following:
I took the list of eight golden rules from Designing the User Interface, by Ben Shneiderman... again.
The rules that you were most likely to eliminate from the list were "Make sure that users know when they are done with a task." and "Reduce load on the user's short-term memory." One group said that we didn't need this rule as much as others because it is already covered by "Offer informative feedback." (I agree, but I suspect that Shneiderman knows this and thinks that 'a sense of closure' is so important that it is worth mentioning separately.) One group eliminated "Make users think they are in charge," saying "I just want done what I want done. I don't need to feel in charge!" Do you feel that way about all the tools you use?
Your new rules included... [coming soon]
In my past courses, the rules from Shneiderman most commonly retained involved consistency, feedback, error handling, and reversal of actions. Rarely does any group retain 'design dialogs to yield closure' or 'support internal locus of control'. Why do you think that is?
What are the advantages of stating explicitly these principles when they seem implicit in some of the others? In what do these guidelines differ from their "relatives" on Shneiderman's list. (Think about intellect versus psychology...)
New rules proposed by past students included "make the interface easy to adapt", "match the user's task", "provide on-line help", and "give the user a way to terminate the system in a fail-safe mode".
Some group generalize 'provide shortcuts' to a rule about 'adapting to the type of user', which also included the providing of help. How much is this science fiction, and how much can we achieve today?
Other ideas that have surfaced as possible rules: "match the environment", "provide help -- outside of the software", "provide appropriate response times", "(use graphics that) send the right signals to the user", and "provide multiple input devices".
How do you go about creating new rules? (Sometimes it's hard to create anything once you have seen an answer...) Three strategies I'd suggest you try sometime:
Keep in mind that more general rules will be less directly helpful in some contexts, and that more specific rules will be less broadly useful in some contexts.
When asked which of the eight rules could most easily be eliminated, many groups chose to eliminate the "make sure that users know when they are done task" and "reduce load on the user's short-term memory". rules. We basically felt in our group anyway that we did not need something to tell us when the task was done. That could be covered under another rule, "offer informative feedback". Our group used the car as our example and we felt that it was fairly obvious that a task was completed. If you put your blinker on, for instance, you will know it's on because there will be a flashing arrow.
[EW: Ah, but that's an example of making sure the users know the state of the car. The purpose of turning on your signal is to turn on the external; the internal blinker is to let the driver know that the signal is, indeed, on!]
Next, we were asked to share what new rules we came up with. Some of the rules are:
For those who had a hard time thinking of a new rule, you might want to try to either generalize or specialize. Find a gap that needs to be filled. Make sure it is something that can be measured in some way. The ease of use rule would probably not be a good rule because it is based on an individual's response and would be hard to measure from person to person.
Lastly, we also discussed the rule "make users think they are in charge". Of course with some machines we just want them to work and do their thing once they get started. On the other hand, I have used Microsoft Word many times and had it take over and change typing. Sometimes it will automatically correct my spelling and I'm usually ok with that. At other times though I want to make a list of something without capitalizing the first letter of each word, and find that it automatically capitalizes the first letter of the first word for me. And it often takes me a long time trying to figure out how to turn that feature off. So I definitely think the user should be in charge.
In groups we were asked to pick something people use, such as a car or a microwave and for each of the eight rules either give an example of how the product satisfies the rule or violates the rule. Secondly, as a group we created our own "golden rule" for interaction design, something that was not listed by eliminating one of the eight already established rules. Finally we had to anwser; why did you choose to delete that particular rule, and in what way does your rule improve on the deleted?
After the groups were finished, we discussed what each group decided, and found that most groups either eliminated the fourth rule; closure or the last; reduce load on the user's short-term memory. The reasons behind eliminating closure on a design is that it is that it is unnecessary, that the category falls under the third (Offer informative feedback). The reasons given for reducing the load on short term memory was that it might not be neccessary for each product and that most products are used often enough that its not in the short term memory anyway.
Secondly, we discussed what rule we might add. The groups responded with ideas such as; well labeled parts, quality made products, stylish appeal, functioning while being eye appealing, easy to use, allows users to perform multifunctions, is compatible with other products, the user doesn't have to possess knowledge of product for use, and health instructions.
To conclude the class session, Professor Wallingford discussed that many times change occurs when people figure out how they can combine rules that overlap. Also he mentioned that a coffee maker would be a good example of something that lets you know when the coffee is done but is not necessary, but asks us to consider a computer and how frustrating it would be if we did not know if a file had been copied or not. The professor went on to mention that two groups listed ease of use but that would be very hard to measure and all rules must be measurable to be apply to be enforced.