Psychology, Design, & Further Topics

There were some great ideas in Norman's chapter from Psychology of Things.  The ideas he drew out for us of the conceptual model and the relationship between the user model and the system image resonates - it in itself is a great design.  Another new and valuable idea for me he articulated was the idea that users go through life and the world clumsily interacting with objects and interfaces and feeling bad about themselves. Norman argues that the burden falls upon the designer to ensure that the user's needs are met - not just that the designer's vision and original parameters are achieved.  This is achieved through trial and error, observation, revision, and open-mindedness.  Norman claims many designs fail because a design team never actually tries to use their design.  I love his discovery that bad designs persist because consumers accept them - businesses create huge commissions or orders for a system without collaborating with the designer to test them, users continue to quietly buy badly designed goods because they feel it's their own fault they cannot use them well. 

I think two topical points are in order here: consumer/user self-blame is partially due to designer arrogance or ignorance but it is also due to isolation of individual experience.  In today's hyper communication trends someone should design a better way to collect information about design issues! And not just Apple collecting bug information.  Cars, anvils, cameras, retractable dog leashes.    Another issue which Norman doesn't go into in his chapter the Psychopathy of Everyday Things is the need for better design for its impact on the earth, for people/populations/beings other than the direct users.  Noise pollution, chemical and solid waste pollution, energy consumption, use of non-recyclables.  These should be be taken into consideration just as much as an individual or business' concerns.  

Another interesting aspect of this particular reading was his mention of the former title The Psychology of everyday things and the business community's (at least contemporarily) rejection of the implications of the term "psychology."   It speaks to an author's responsibility to the reader (user) as a designer of words.