Design Everyday

Topics: Usability, Donald Norman, Design Pages: 17 (1950 words) Published: April 24, 2013
Design of everyday things
Summary so far:
– many so-called human errors are actually errors in design – human factors became important as human performance limitations reached when handling complex machinery

You will soon know these important concepts for designing everyday things – perceived affordances – causality – visible constraints – mapping – transfer effects – idioms & population stereotypes – conceptual models – individual differences Slide deck by Saul Greenberg. Permission is granted to use this for non-commercial purposes as long as general credit to Saul Greenberg is clearly maintained. Warning: some material in this deck is used from other sources without permission. Credit to the original source is given if it is known. Saul Greenberg – why design is hard

Perceived Affordance
The perceived properties of the object that suggest how one could use it

chairs are for sitting table for placing things on

knobs are for turning

slots are for inserting handles are for turning

buttons are for pressing

switch for toggling

computer for…
Saul Greenberg

Many concepts in this section are adapted from Don Norman’s book: The Design of Everyday Things

1 - Design of everyday things

Perceived Affordances
Product design
– perceived affordances:
• design invites people to take possible actions

– actual affordances:
• the actual actionable properties of the product

Problems occur when
– these are not the same, – people’s perceptions are not what the designer expects

In-depth discussion available at

Saul Greenberg

Perceived Affordances
Mirrors for not touching

Knobs for turning Handles for lifting

Surface for placing transparencies

Saul Greenberg

2 - Design of everyday things

Perceived Affordance Problems
Mirrors for not touching
people don’t reposition image

Knobs for turning

Handles for lifting

focus or image position?

bends frame, focus distorted

Surface for placing transparencies

which way is up?

what about this?

Saul Greenberg

Perceived Affordances
GUI design
– perception only through visuals – designer creates appropriate visual affordances via • familiar idioms • metaphors

Saul Greenberg

3 - Design of everyday things

Perceived Affordances
dials for turning

sliders for sliding

music console for controlling music

Saul Greenberg

Perceived Affordance Problems
is this equalizer control a toggle or button? button for pressing, but action unknown

are these buttons?

Saul Greenberg

4 - Design of everyday things

Perceived Affordance Problems
Is this a graphic or a control? A button is for pressing, but what does it do? Visual affordances for window controls are missing!

IBM Real Phone

text is for editing, but it doesn’t do it.

Saul Greenberg

Perceived Affordance Problems

IBM Real Phone

Saul Greenberg

5 - Design of everyday things

Perceived Affordance Problems
Handles are for lifting, but these are for scrolling!

Complex things may need explaining but simple things should not – when simple things need labels & instructions, then design has failed

AudioRack 32, a multimedia applicaiton

Saul Greenberg

Visible Constraints
Limitations of the actions possible perceived from object’s appearance – provides people with a range of usage possibilities

Push or pull?

Which side?

Can only push, side to push clearly visible Saul Greenberg

6 - Design of everyday things

Which side do you use for cutting?

Photograph courtesy of

Saul Greenberg

Visible constraints: Entering a Date
The more constraints, the less opportunity for error
– particularly important for managing user input

Controls constructed in Visual Basic

Saul Greenberg

7 - Design of everyday things

Saul Greenberg

8 - Design of everyday things

Saul Greenberg

The set of possible relations...
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