Monday, March 16, 2009

Interaction design

Originally drawn from a discussion on software user-interface design, but much of it is relevent to designing a house that interacts well with it's residents.

"... Interaction should facilitate or even persuade users to learn what underlies the task they are doing. The same is true in situations where interruptions are commonplace and where in the meanwhile mastery of what is underlying a task or domain is desired, or when operations come with a cost and direct solutions without deviations are the aim. In designing our interfaces we ... must design in such a manner that the way users (should) think is optimally supported."

In other words: we need to design for the optimal usage of the house. Good defaults are very important here (In my opinion, the strength of Apple software is the choice of good defaults (and sometimes not giving users the ability to chose))

"We concluded that relieving a user’s memory and making interactions assisted by externalizing information does not have beneficial effects. It makes users count on the interface and gives them (unrightfully so) the feeling that the task and thinking-work is partly done for them, which seduces users in more shallow cognitive behavior."

In other words: It is important to help the user build a good mental representation of how things are working. Preferably this would be similar to the way things actually work, but it can also be an arbitrary metaphore for what is happening.

"Not every task is important enough to teach users the mechanisms that support it. Many interfaces benefit from a level of abstraction or decoupling from the underlying processes. The spirit of this research is to point out that the effort to dumb down can go too far."

Aka: Teaching people how everything works is impossible. Abstraction has it's place, we'll have to find a balance.

Someone's comment:
"When a person is learning how to use 3D modeling software -- like AutoCAD or Revit or Inventor -- they may actually be learning (at least) two things: (1) How to think and draw in 3D space, and (2) How to make this happen in software. I'm not sure what the pedagogical solution to this challenge is, but I suspect that people who learn drafting before learning the software would more quickly learn the software and have greater facility with it over the long term. Just a guess, though. "

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