My current favorite story in the vein of Norman's return/enter key story is about the photocopier in my department office. The on/off key is right next to the copy key, but it's bigger and more obvious. I don't know how many times I've set up a complex copy job and then hit the on/off key when I wanted to make the copies -- losing my set up and having to start over. Like most people, I feel sheepish about doing that, but I know enough to know that the designers of the copier should have done a better job...
You have read Chapter 1 of The Design of Everyday Things and learned about a model for how users act on goals and evaulate the results.
Work in teams of three or four people based on the number in the upper right-hand corner of this page.
If you don't feel like you understand the seven stages of action yet, this is a good time to discuss Norman's model and ask questions!
On Task 1: Norman says that we are most likely to blame ourselves when we think the device is simple and when we think that others don't make the mistakes we do (page 40). Yet he also says that people tend to blame their own failings on environment and others' failings on their personalities (page 41).
Naive physics: Even educated people misunderstand how the world works. Aristotle's physics is naive compared to Newton's, and Newton's physics is naive compared to the modern quantum mechanics/relativity theory. Yet the naive models generally "work better" in the real world, at the level of human action, because they are more specific models (for example, they assume gravity and air :-).
Learned and taught helplessness -- math and computers.
Many everyday actions involve opportunistic goals, not planned goals. We adapt our plans and actions to take advantage of an opportunity, which become a part of subconscious action, not planned action.
Problems in everyday actions tend to arise in the gulf of execution between a well-formed goal and a well-formed action to take. This gap occurs because people don't know how the device works, have constructed an inaccurate or inadequate explanation in their minds, and act on the erroneous model. Designers can improve their devices by providing more direct mappings of reasonable user goals/actions onto the device.
This is true for all kinds of device, from the physical things we build, to the bank account descriptions we write for clients, to the lesson plans we create for students, to the software we write.
The seven Stages are:
One thing generated in class discussion is being very specific. Microsoft has a problem sometimes letting the user know that the document is saved. So for example a novice user might think that they have saved their document but it is not, or maybe they saved it to the hard drive, when they wanted to save it to a floppy disk. So either way when they go to retrieve it its not there.
Another problem is that as computers get more complicated meaning they can perform more tasks it gets harder to execute even simple commands. An example we talked about in class is a cell phone. A cell phone used to be very simple and easier to use. My cell phone is only a year old but already is very outdated and the new ones look very intimidating. The new phones you can get go online with, take pictures, text message, view pictures, speaker phone, and more. These are all nice but it makes it more complicated to do simple tasks such as checking voice mail. You might have more commands to punch or more buttons to confuse you. So as computers become more diverse they also get more complicated to use.
Next, we were given 2 scenarios in which to identify Norman's model is a basic, simple set of steps used to analyze the use and design of different devices. The stages include 1) Forming the goal 2) Forming the intention 3) Specifying the action 4) Executing the action 5) Perceiving the state of the world 6) Interpreting the state of the world and 7) Evaluating the outcome. During this part of the activity, we were really given the chance to learn the 7 stages and what they encompassed. Many groups were confused with the 5th stage (perceiving the state of the world) but come to find out it was a very important one that mainly focused on the idea of feedback.
After we all had discussed the seven stages, we chose 1 of the items we listed during the first question and figured out with stage the difficulty arose. Such items discussed were the vacuum (executing the action) and the combination DVD/TV/CD player (specifying the action). These two stages seemed to be the most troublesome.
Finally we came together as a class to discuss our findings. Professor Wallingford focused on 2 main concepts at this time. They were Taught Helplessness vs. Learned Helplessness and Naive Models of the World. Taught vs. Learned Helplessness said that if a device is not openly talked about often, users tend to think that everyone else is using them correctly when they're not. The VCR has become well known for being hard to operate so if people are unable to use them correctly they don't feel stupid because they figure no one else can work them either. Secondly, Prof. Wallingford briefly mentioned that Naive Models of the World meant that if devices are good enough, we use them. [Not quite. I said that sometimes our naive model is good enough to help use a device, so we can stick with our naive model. It doesn't matter for most of us if we conceive of the physical world in Isaac Newton's way, even if modern physics has shown it to be 'wrong' in some important ways. It's simpler than the more complete model and works well enough in our daily lives.]
Overall, I believe this class session was informative and helpful in understanding Norman's model and how it affects the use and design of devices.
We discussed each stage and how it deals with using the washer. Then we discussed how the inventor could have made the device better in reducing errors in the device.
So in conclusion, people tend to feel that its their fault that they don't know how to do something that deals with a device. They do what they feel comfortable with and forget the rest, even if it makes it less time consuming or better over all. These seven stages also help in stating what the function of the device is and how it works. These stages break down the steps in doing what you set out to accomplish in using the device.
In our groups, we discussed some objects which people have trouble with and identified the seven stages involved in using the object and in which step trouble tends to arise. For example, my group came up with the washing machine as the object and decided that trouble would occur in the specifying action or executing action stages.
One portion of the seven stages which was somewhat difficult to understand at first were the perceiving and interpreting the state of the world stages. All they really mean is look at what has happened after you took action. For example, using the washing machine action, you could smell your clothes and interpret the smell as good or bad. Then evaluate the outcome by deciding whether you successfully washed your clothes or not.