HCDE518: Think About Design — Breadth, Induction, Depth

Task1: Breadth

Generate a list of 10 distinct things with which you experience over the next week (carry a small notebook around with you). Write a paragraph (4-7 sentences) describing your specific experience with each thing. Was it successful or not? In what ways? Where did breakdowns occur? Where did confusions occur? Most importantly, why did they occur? Did you stop using it as a result?
  1. Gas knobs:
     When first time using it, I saw that there are few words showing on the knob to indicate how to use it. Words are “Lite”, “high”, “6”, “5”, “4”, “3”, “2”, and “low.” Therefore, I directly turned it in a clockwise direction until the indicator pointed to “Lite”, but I didn’t see flames. So I turned it backward and looked for problems. I, then, observed the gas knob again to see whether I missed any information; however, I did not find additional information that could instruct me. I recalled my turn-it-on process, but did not see any problem in the process. After that, I started thinking whether there was a switch that controlled gas knobs; however, I did not find any. After all, I asked my boyfriend who had used this before, and he told me to press the knob down before turning it clockwise. By following his instruction, I heard a unique sound and saw flames; I knew I finally got it right.
  2. Oven:
     It was not my first time using the oven, but I have used only “Broil” button, “Bake” button, and the keypad, which is used to enter desired temperature. Because of this assignment, I decided to explore more features. I wanted to broil chicken wings, so that I put wings into the oven, pressed “Broil” button, and set up temperature. Next, I wanted to see whether there was button on the left that could enhance my user experience. Buttons showing on the left are “Speed clean”, “Clean”, “Maxx clean”, “Oven light”, “Bake time”, “Clock”, “Timer on/off”, “Start time”, and “Lock”. After I read through, I decided to turn the light on, so that I could see how chicken wings had been cooked. Next step, I tried to find the “Oven light” button; however, I couldn’t remember where it was! So, I read through them one by one again. I skipped first column because I remembered they were all relevant to “Clean” functionality. Then, I skipped second column, because that I saw “Clock” button and assumed all three buttons in this column are about time setting. I finally looked for “Oven light” button among the three buttons showing on the last column, but I did not find it. Afterwards, I decided to patiently read each button again, and I finally found “Oven light” button, which was in the column that I thought was relevant to time setting. I couldn’t help to ask why light button was among those buttons that are relevant to time setting, but I was not able to figure it out. Finally, I turned on oven’s light.
  3. Fitbit flex
     I purchased a Fitbit flex for monitoring my workout frequencies and sleep quality. I bought this specific series because of its neat appearance — it only has a simple and small LED display. I followed the short instructions and charged tracker's battery to full. While waiting for charging, I downloaded its application to help me review the data. After I put it on my wrist, I started to learn how I should interact with it. In the instruction, it told me that there were 5 white indicator lights on the LED display; if I want to start or stop sleep mode, I should tap the flex rapidly for 1-2 seconds. If I want to see my progress of main goal, I should tap twice. I, then, was wondering where should I tap? I looked at my flex. Because I knew the wristband was just made by rubber, I assumed that the sensor should be in the tracker. By following what was written on the instruction, I taped twice on the tracker; however, nothing happened. I tapped again on another spot where was slightly right to the previous spot, but still, nothing was shown on the LED display. I stopped after tried several times, and told myself that this might be an inferior.
  4. Wood drawer
     I started to put things into cabinet and drawers in my new apartment. As usual, I was gently pushing the drawer back, because I really do not like the sound when someone slams cabinet door or a drawer; it is rude and loud, and can damage the furniture. The process was smooth until the last few seconds; I felt that there was strength against me. I thought that it was because I put too many things, so that drawer got stuck. I pulled the drawer out, and saw that everything was organized in a proper way. I tried again. The strength was still there. When I stopped pushing it and tried another drawer, I saw the prior drawer was slowly closed. And the second drawer did the same thing. Then I realized that was a feature built into drawers to protect them from being slammed.
  5. Dictionary Application
     I was excited when I saw my dictionary application could be added into the notification bar of iPhone. I had this application on my old Android phone, and I liked this feature, because it allowed me to immediately search vocabulary without waiting for my screen changing between applications. When I used it on my new iPhone, I realized that same dictionary application did not do the same actions. On iPhone, the dictionary application shortcut still triggered the full version of the application, and I had to wait to see the dictionary application showing on the screen for 1–2 second.
  6. Backpack
     I found that it is very inconvenient to get things out of a bag or put things inside when carrying a backpack. I need to either put it on the ground, or turn the backpack over and hang it on my one arm while using one leg to hold it from the bottom. Although I preferred neither of these two options, I had no other choice until I saw a backpack that had zip on the side of it. When using this backpack, I can hang it on my left arm and easily put my laptop into the bag through its left side without turning the bag over or putting it on the floor; it saved me a lot effort and time.
  7. Tire-Checking Light
     When the first time I saw the Tire-Checking light turned on, I was driving on a highway. I immediately drove to the first gas station that I saw to check my tire pressure. I found the proper tire pressure, which is 34, on the side of a door. I used the machine in the gas station to check all four tires, but the machine consistently showed “34”. I thought that I might use the machine wrong. I asked cashier to help me out. After he confirmed that all tires’ pressure were “34”, I searched on Google to find out whether there was someone who met same problem. I, then, found couple posts discussing the problems that I encountered. Most posts suggested that it was not tires’ problem, but the problem of Tire-Checking sensor. After I checked all tires one more time and still saw “34”, I decided to leave the light on, and drove back to the highway.
  8. Dock on Mac
     The factory setting of the Dock on Mac is on the bottom of screen. To ensure the cursor won’t be on my way, I normally move it from screen’s middle to the bottom; consequently, no matter how carefully I was, I had always accidently triggered the Dock. I finally tired of seeing it every time when I move cursor away from the center of screen; I changed it to screen’s left side. I finally avoided hitting it by accident.
  9. OneNote Sharing Feature
     Microsoft OneNote is note-taking software that I like to use, because it has desktop software looking with share feature. I shared a document to my group member for a team project. Because I did not find options that allow me to choose from sharing only the presenting document or the whole folder, I assumed it might only be the document showing on my screen. Sharing process was easy; I simply shared a link to her, and then she was able to access the document and work on it. However, I realized not only the presenting document was shared, but the entire folder where the document belonged to. I had some documents within this folder that are only for my personal use, and I did not want to share to my group member. I tried to find a button that could stop the sharing and also searched for solution online. Because I found a post on Microsoft website saying that sharing cannot be terminated, I moved all my personal files into a new folder, and removed them from the shared folder.
  10. Sport Tight
     One of my sport tights has a pocket on the back of waist. Unlike wearing other sport tights, which have no place to put keys and phone, I do not have to hold my keys and phone in hand when wearing it for jogging. Although sport tight is next to skin, I won’t be hurt by keys putted in my pocket, because my skin can be protect by the elastic stitched inside the tight. Moreover, because I barely move my waist while running, I do not feel any friction between things in my pocket and my skin.

Task2: Induction

Derive a list of 10 personal design principles that apply to interaction based on the experiences you had in the last part. Give a name to each principle and come up with a definition for it in 1–3 sentences.
  1. Instruction Integrality: Indicators providing users the instructions of using a tool need to reveal the complete using process.
  2. Similarity Classification: Features of an artifact that are relevant to a same topic are classified into one category. Features within one category are presented next to each other and separate from features belonging to other categories.
  3. Timely Feedback: After an action was taken, a product immediately provides feedback to the user.
  4. Clear Notification: An artifact that is unconventionally designed needs to provide clear notes to indicate its special functionalities.
  5. Consistency: A design is maintained throughout a product, and throughout different versions of the product that run on various operation systems.
  6. Least Effort Requirement: A product can be intuitively understood and easily used by the user.
  7. Notification Accuracy: A notification that reveals the operating status of a system provides accurate information to user.
  8. Respect for Convention: A design follows the user’s usual practices or convention.
  9. Forgiveness: An artifact offers options for users to undo their prior actions.
  10. Necessity Inclusion: A product includes designs used by the user to complete inevitable needs that are triggered by the usage of this product.

Task3: Depth

Choose an additional 2 designed artifacts. One artifact should be a thing whose design you adore, whose virtues you can extol to no end (a “beloved thing”). Chose another artifact whose design you hate, whose faults you can disparage forever (a “hated thing”). Write a 1/2-page description each of why you love or hate these things, using the design principles in derived in the second part. Which principles are violated? Which are upheld?

Love: Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush

Philips Sonicare is a simple but efficient electric toothbrush. Referring back to my personal design principles, it upholds the principles of Timely Feedback, Clear Notification, Least Effort Requirement, Notification Accuracy, Respect for Convention, and Necessity Inclusion.

  • Timely Feedback: Philips Sonicare offers immediate feedback, when I press the on-off button to active the toothbrush. The feedback includes the sound and feel of toothbrush’s vibration.
  • Clear Notification: Because electric toothbrush works different compared to traditional toothbrush, the user needs clear notification to understand how to active the toothbrush, and when it is active, off, or time to charge battery. The on-off button of Philips Sonicare is a big green button, and this toothbrush has very clear notification for each status. The user can be notified by the sound and feel of its vibration. When the toothbrush is active, the user can feel the continuous vibration and hear the sound caused by it. The sound disappears right after the user turns it off. When the toothbrush is short in battery, the user can feel three times short and discontinuous vibration and see the battery light changing from green to yellow.
  • Least Effort Requirement: When using Philips Sonicare, the user does not need to count the time to ensure he/she has brushed his/her teeth for enough time. This electric toothbrush has 2-minute timer built in, which is the brushing time recommended by dental professionals. By having this feature, the user can take a good care of his/her teeth without putting in too many efforts. Designers used a switch icon that is commonly used in our life to indicate on-off button, so that the user can easily understand what the button is.
  • Notification Accuracy: The 2-minute timer is always accurate, so that the user can feel safe to trust this product.
  • Respect for Convention: Although this is an electric toothbrush, it looks similar to traditional toothbrush. It makes users feel familiar and comfortable when using this product.
  • Necessity Inclusion: Designers of this product noticed that users may have the problem of grabbing the toothbrush firmly, because this toothbrush is slightly heavier than traditional toothbrush, and users' hands are normally wet when brushing teeth. Under this consideration, designers used the rubber material on the surface of on-off button area, helping users to firmly grab the product. This product is also water resistant, satisfying users' another need.

Hate: One Bus Away

One Bus Away is an application that I use every day to check real-time transit information. It upholds my personal design principles of Timely Feedback, Clear Notification, Less Effort Requirement, and Respect for Convention. The principles of Consistency and Notification Accuracy are violated.

  • Timely Feedback: One Bus Away gives me timely feedback, when I tap on any button built in this application. Based on the feedback, I get to know whether this application is functionally working well.
  • Clear Notification: My current location shows as a blue dot in the application. This design provides me clear information about where I am and how far I am from a specific bus station. Moreover, Bus’s route direction is also indicated on its built-in map. The user can look at the small red triangle to find out the direction of a bus.
  • Less Effort Requirement: There is a tab called “Recent”, which can be used to find out those bus routes being searched recently. This design saves users time, because users do not need to start a searching process over and over again for a same bus route.
  • Respect for Convention: All bus stations are marked in the map, and they have used a “Bus” icon, which can be easily recognized and intuitively understood by users.
  • Consistency: The iOS version and Android version of One Bus Away have different UX and UI designs. For example, the first screen of One Bus Away Android version shows your location and all transit stations around your area without having the user tapping anything on the map. Contrarily, iOS version only shows your location without transit stations until you zoom-in the map. Another example is that Android version uses double taps to review the details of a bus route; however, users who use iOS version need to first single tap the transit station icon, and then tap on the pop-up to review details. When I changed my phone from Android to iOS, because the designs of two versions are different, I had to learn the new UX design and spent a lot of time to get used to it.
  • Notification Accuracy: It is very difficult but important to provide accurate real-time transit information. One Bus Away provides accurate information at most of the time; however, a few mistakes can have big impact on users’ trust level. Here is an experience that I had. The bus station is only three minutes walk away from where I live. One day, I slowly walked to bus station because One Bus Away showed that there was still 9 minutes until the bus came; however, the time changed to “-1”, which means that the bus had gone already, when I reached the bus station. After this experience, I always leave home 15 minutes earlier before the time showing on the One Bus Away to avoid missing bus. As a result, I have to wait a long time, especially when a bus is delayed.
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