Do constraints forbid us to perform an activity?

Did you watch the Transformers animated series back in your childhood days! Well, I did. I was quite intrigued with how those machines transformed. My father bought one of those for me and I was puzzled how a car transformed into a robot. It was quite a work to re-transform the bot into the car, but after couple of combinations I got it right which took me on cloud-9.

I bet Daenerys too did some permutations in order to control the dragons! The mapping to conclude the result might thwart, but working ways in-n-out shall fetch one the desired result.

The writer describes the same in the chapter 04 of The Design of Everyday Things, specifying the example of the Lego set. The designer might provide you the mapping/clues to reach the end result, but we’ve to find ways to achieve it, because no one likes a smooth road, do they?

Further Mr. Don describes four constraints the user faces while performing the activity:

1) Physical Constraints
2) Cultural Constraints
3) Semantic Constraints
4) Logical Constraints

Essentially, I concluded two reasoning from above, i.e.,

1) How the user would convey the activity?
2) Presuming whether he executed it in an accurate technique.

Let’s consider an example of the bed. No one teaches us how to sleep and where to sleep on the bed. We ourselves find a way to settle on the bed. Where to place the pillow, where and how to place the blanket comes naturally. The only constraint one face is if he falls out of the bed and smashes his face on the floor!

Back in India, either we greet our elder by bowing and touching their feet, which implies seven blessings on us or we place our hands together at the heart chakra and performed Namaste. It’s quite a common tradition back there, but assume one would perform the same method here in the States. Many might get confused as to what the other fellow was doing! Because the tradition here, what I observed, implies either to shake hands or nod at each other and greet ‘How’re doing!’ Which ponders me whether a cultural constraint really matters in a design?

Moreover, he tosses the concept of the constraints that force the desired behavior, postulating the interlock, lock-in and lock-out definitions. One of the examples that pops in my mind is how certain mobile application offers premium services, which I think, serves as an example of the lock-out constraint because everyone cannot access all the features.

The conventions are ought to update with new reforms, might prove constraints to some. But does that really point that we should consider the previous traditions while upgrading the realm? As described by the writer, it might prove frustrating for some to adapt the new convention, but isn’t adaptability eminent?

Change is the only constant*

*Updating the roots of the design.

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