Everyday things

Recent accomplishment has been finishing up the Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. (give me credit, it’s not Lord of the Rings, non-fiction, so takes a while). Often, we are faced with the challenge of learning to use something new and when things go wrong, we blame ourselves. Norman attributes it to be the fault of the designer, or possibly the lack of knowledge. He was quite ahead of his time, he wrote it in 1988, worked at apple and predicted certain futures.
Systems are there in place to create order. If there was a universal guide book on how things should be designed, instruction manuals wouldn’t be 16382648 pages long. Stumbled upon this read in the library the other day. It looks dry and quite outdated, but it’s importance is undeniable for daily warnings.
Notice how some light switches turn on when you press down while some others switch on when you turn up? Our brain makes connections, it is hardwired to actions we have been instilled with as we grow up. Doors lock when we turn keys clockwise, unlock when we turn in the opposite direction. When things function in a way it shouldn’t or out of the norm our brain gets muddled. For instance, we do not need to think before walking, about whether the right or left foot should head forward, the muscle memory instilled automatically decides this for us. This has bigger implications when it comes to operating a jet plane, or machinery in a nuclear plant. How do you stop an automatic action. Is there a universal guide book on which shape would signify danger so buttons can be designed in that way? In colors, green signifies go and red signifies stop. In an emergency, do we look at a red exit sign and stop in our tracks, causing more confusion. When designing a whole system, the tiniest details needs to be considered, functionality over aesthetics which often, we find ourselves drifting to the latter, only to remind ourselves to take a macro view instead and swim back.
How do you change habits, can you? Or should we take them into consideration and design around them?

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Out in the wild, up to the occasional mischief and making something new. Surprises are fun, nonsense is intriguing, passion all the more enticing and the rest is rust and stardust.

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