Technological developments for the digital environment

7. Design Matters

  • There are a variety of principle design imperatives:
    • Behavioral: usability & functionality
    • Reflective: meaning & orientation
    • Visceral: emotional, pleasure, aesthetic
  • The design should match the goals and demographic.
  • That there are a variety of goals DOES NOT MEAN that one can make just anyway, any old way, and then depend on it just "finding its market."
  • Technological designs often go wrong:
    • Innovation is faster than human evolution & adaptation.
    • Aesthetics do not equal usability.
    • Designers are not typical users.
    • Designers work to please clients, not end-users.
    • Design is for every-person; however, we are all special.
    • Gulf of Evaluation is too wide (difference between perceived and interpretable physical representation of system and intended actions).
      • Digital example?
    • Gulf of Execution is too wide (difference between user action intention and outcome).
      • Digital example?
  • Computer/software designs in particular often go wrong:break most of the rules of good design.

    • End users can spend an inordinate amount of time working on devices and networks rather than on solving problems and creating meaningful content.
    • Creeping featurism.
    • Worshiping false complexity.
  • One can take steps to improve the outcome of technological designs
    • Perhaps close the windows: Right now, systems are designed for generalist use. Systems
      might work better as they are pruned and designed specifically for a smaller set of terms and functions.
    • Proper balance of required knowledge in the head and knowledge in the world.
      • Affordances (perceived and actual properties of objects which provide clues as to how they work)
        • Digital example?
      • Visibility (state of device and action alternatives).
        • Digital example?
      • Strong conceptual model (coherent, consistent, predictable system image).
        • Digital example?
      • Good mappings (clear relationships among actions-results, controls-effects, system
        • Digital example?
      • Feedback (full, continuous, accurate info. about the results of actions.
        • Digital example?
      • Test, retest, be flexible
        • Use a "dumb terminal" or it's not a real test
      • Plan back-from-the-deadline/back-from-the-goals to leave adequate time for testing (NASA handbook materials in Resources on Sakai.

Concept 7 Application Note article:

"Steve Jobs Never Wanted Us to Use Our iPhones Like This"

Want to learn more?
Grab the NASA Schedule Management Handbook, Jan 2010 from Sakai Resources
Grab Design Thinking or IDEO_HCD_ToolKit from Sakai Resources &/or Tim Brown and IDEO on creative processes and design thinking.
Vinay Dabholkar: Design Thinking Resources

Shailesh Shirali: Creativity and Insight in Daily Life
Lev Manovich. Software Takes Command. Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.
Software Takes Command is available free/online:
or here:

(A) Concept Exams

(B) Text Reading

(C) Concept Application
Notes & Discussions
(D) 3-part-Research Writing Project
(E) Extra Credit Grading Special Considerations
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