The Design of Problem Solving

Over Fallbreak, our assignment was to read two more chapters from Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. I’m going to focus on the first chapter, chapter 6, because I feel like I can talk about it without repeating a lot of the ideas I’ve discussed in previous posts.

I guess I’ll start with what Norman calls Human-Centered Design or HCD for short. HCD is the idea that everything that we create and design, is done so with the intention of being usable by humans. As we all know, humans are not the easiest of clients to please and so just about every product that is designed has to go through a second design phase to correct any problems. Norman talks about HCD works in a cycle of observation, idea generation, prototyping, and testing. While these four steps work well in finding the problems with a certain product and then fixing that problem, it is often not the problem that is presented that is the actual issue with the product.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.52.55 PM

The concept of Idea Generation struck me as particularly eyeopening for some reason. Norman lists three components that are part of this idea if “ideation” and they are to 1) generate numerous ideas, 2) be creative without regard for constraints, and 3) question everything. Out of these three, I think the last is the most obvious yet is done the least often. For many of us, when things become so common that we assume they are there. For designers, this can lead to the assumption that the consumer will understand how something works when in reality, they may have no idea what it is or what it does.

By using the Double Diamond Model of Design that Norman also includes in this chapter, designers are able to take a step back from the apparent issue and examine all parts of the product, not necessarily just what went wrong. By looking at the product as a whole, designers are able to make it’s design, at its core, as simple as possible.Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.52.43 PM

I think its very important to remember that while simplification is often the cure to problems within products, some people will not understand certain products or, for that matter, even like certain products no matter how simple they become. An example of this is Mac “people” versus PC “people.”

Regardless of what kind of “person” you are though, you will always want your product to work for you. That’s the core idea behind HCD, that a product works for you.

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