[P-Comp] Reading Response – Week 2

The Design of Everyday Things

Principles of Usability:

  • Visibility
    • Examples:
      • Salt and Pepper Shakers
      • Putting a plate on where you should push a door
  • Feedback
    • Examples:
      • A light turns on when you press Hold on a phone
  • Affordances
    • i.e. The “Psychology” of Materials
    • Examples:
      • The holes in a pair of scissors
      • Glass is for seeing through and smashing

Invisible Labor

Norman recounting his difficulty in answering a call:

I’m just gonna say it: this is a gendered statement. Those secretaries he talked to about the new phone system are expected to learn these rules. I understand that this is a moment of him identifying with the struggles of the ordinary office worker and gathering lessons from the way in which we navigate our day to day lives. However from my experience, women whose job it is to navigate these systems MUST learn to make it work. That’s what secretaries are for. It has occurred to me so many times in my current job that I could automate more than half of my day to day functions. But that assumes that everyone in an office works and thinks the same way. Let me tell you: they do not. Secretaries are there to hold people’s hands and provide the lubrication between larger tasks and by and large it is women who have the pain threshold to do so. 


This is an extremely helpful concept for me: having a coherent map of how something works helps its usability. If you turn a steering wheel clockwise, the car turns to the right; if you turn it counterclockwise, the car turns to the left. 

I usually wait until I have a clear mental picture of how to do something before doing it. I hate not understanding why something is happening. I imagine I will return to the concept often during my projects.