Universal Principles of Interaction Design (was: OLPC: Sugar not so Sweet?)

27 Dec 2007 - 10:30am
6 years ago
25 replies
885 reads
Dan Saffer
2003

On Dec 26, 2007, at 11:21 PM, dave malouf wrote:

> b/c few if any of these laws came out of research on young
> people. They are all tests done on adults that have gone through the
> same level of socialization. And if my reading is correct all of
> these laws are based on research only done in specific western
> industrialized settings.
>
> By no means are these cross-culural/sub-cultural studies and I do
> question them. They are also not age-based studies and further they
> are contextualized around a specific use-context of computational
> areas.

So you feel that everything is contextual, that there are no universal
principles of good design that are always true?

(I wish I had my copy of the great Universal Principles of Design book
at hand for this conversation. Would be great to pull some examples
from there.)

Dan

Comments

27 Dec 2007 - 11:56am
Kevin Silver1
2006

I'm looking at the table of contents of UPoD (my hard copy is at
home) and there are definitely some principles that I think would
apply no matter what the cultural or age distinction might be. For
example: chunking, affordance, archetypes, compassion, confirmation,
form follows function, golden ration and the list goes on... But I
do think its our job to apply the appropriate principles for the
context of the situation. It doesn't mean that these principles are
not universal, it's that they need to applied appropriately.

Kevin

On Dec 27, 2007, at 8:30 AM, Dan Saffer wrote:

>
> On Dec 26, 2007, at 11:21 PM, dave malouf wrote:
>
>> b/c few if any of these laws came out of research on young
>> people. They are all tests done on adults that have gone through the
>> same level of socialization. And if my reading is correct all of
>> these laws are based on research only done in specific western
>> industrialized settings.
>>
>> By no means are these cross-culural/sub-cultural studies and I do
>> question them. They are also not age-based studies and further they
>> are contextualized around a specific use-context of computational
>> areas.
>
> So you feel that everything is contextual, that there are no universal
> principles of good design that are always true?
>
> (I wish I had my copy of the great Universal Principles of Design book
> at hand for this conversation. Would be great to pull some examples
> from there.)
>
> Dan
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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Kevin Silver
Clearwired Web Services

10899 Montgomery, Suite C
Albuquerque, NM 87109

office: 505.217.3505
toll-free: 866.430.2832
fax: 505.217.3506

e: kevin at clearwired.com
w: www.clearwired.com

27 Dec 2007 - 12:07pm
SemanticWill
2007

I think we need to make sure a distinction is made between "Principles" -
like Cooper-Reimann's "Do No Harm," etc - with Design Patterns - which most
definitely are dependent on context/culture/age/ etc...

>From the highest level of abstraction - things are a lot more universal -
but as you become more concrete - context/culture etc matter a lot more.

My 2 cents

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

On 12/27/07, Kevin Silver <kevin at clearwired.com> wrote:
>
> I'm looking at the table of contents of UPoD (my hard copy is at
> home) and there are definitely some principles that I think would
> apply no matter what the cultural or age distinction might be. For
> example: chunking, affordance, archetypes, compassion, confirmation,
> form follows function, golden ration and the list goes on... But I
> do think its our job to apply the appropriate principles for the
> context of the situation. It doesn't mean that these principles are
> not universal, it's that they need to applied appropriately.
>
> Kevin
>
>
>

27 Dec 2007 - 12:08pm
Dave Malouf
2005

wow! dan, you have no idea what you just opened up for me. My major in
college was cross-cultural psychology as an antrho major. My thesis
paper was on cross-cultural dream analysis.

Of course, at a biological level we all receive signals
neurologically at the some level of commonality. But I have learned
in my studies that cultural interpretations of signals can differ
dramatically. For example, snow classification among eskimos, or in
dream analysis falling dreams is a positive among people from New
Guinea.

I also have seen how color interpretations change from culture to
culture, where as "contrasts" are not seen as stark among some
people's as others. yes, they are recognized as different. the same
is true for musicality and other things we often take for granted
within our academic communities.

Bring children as a different biological grouping type into the mix
and further I'd lean towards heavier contextuality or "it depends"
than ever before.

Learning processes are very different for the young. we know this due
to the processes of language acquisition vs. language use. These are
very different modes of operating.

Does the Universal Principles of Design look at different types of
crafts and design and try to derive interpretations of design
principles from them? How comprehensive is the book's look at
cultures?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23952

27 Dec 2007 - 12:20pm
Kevin Silver1
2006

Dave,

I wonder if the principles stay the same but the dialect changes?
I'm don't remember specifically how detailed UPoD gets with cross-
cultural issues, I'll take a look.

Kevin

On Dec 27, 2007, at 9:08 AM, dave malouf wrote:

> wow! dan, you have no idea what you just opened up for me. My major in
> college was cross-cultural psychology as an antrho major. My thesis
> paper was on cross-cultural dream analysis.
>
> Of course, at a biological level we all receive signals
> neurologically at the some level of commonality. But I have learned
> in my studies that cultural interpretations of signals can differ
> dramatically. For example, snow classification among eskimos, or in
> dream analysis falling dreams is a positive among people from New
> Guinea.
>
> I also have seen how color interpretations change from culture to
> culture, where as "contrasts" are not seen as stark among some
> people's as others. yes, they are recognized as different. the same
> is true for musicality and other things we often take for granted
> within our academic communities.
>
> Bring children as a different biological grouping type into the mix
> and further I'd lean towards heavier contextuality or "it depends"
> than ever before.
>
> Learning processes are very different for the young. we know this due
> to the processes of language acquisition vs. language use. These are
> very different modes of operating.
>
> Does the Universal Principles of Design look at different types of
> crafts and design and try to derive interpretations of design
> principles from them? How comprehensive is the book's look at
> cultures?
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23952
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

Kevin Silver
Clearwired Web Services

10899 Montgomery, Suite C
Albuquerque, NM 87109

office: 505.217.3505
toll-free: 866.430.2832
fax: 505.217.3506

e: kevin at clearwired.com
w: www.clearwired.com

27 Dec 2007 - 2:42pm
stauciuc
2006

On Thu, 27 Dec 2007 09:08:36, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

>
> Of course, at a biological level we all receive signals
> neurologically at the some level of commonality.

According to Pinker's "How the Mind Works", we are all the same more than
just on a neurological level. We have several mechanisms (language,
learning, feelings etc.) that work in the same basic way for all humans,
even if they are adapted to context (culture, age etc.) and manifest
themselves in different ways.

> I also have seen how color interpretations change from culture to
> culture, where as "contrasts" are not seen as stark among some
> people's as others. yes, they are recognized as different. the same
> is true for musicality and other things we often take for granted
> within our academic communities.

Color interpretations change, yes, but the fact that they are interpreted
and given meaning applies to all cultures, I would guess. Same for
contrasts: they may not be as stark, but they are there, and probably
support the same interpretations in every culture (am I wrong?)

What I'm trying to say is: since we are the same in more than just the
biological level and we share common mental mechanisms, then surely there
must exist some universal principles of design that apply to those very
mechanisms we have in common, although the way they are applied will be
adapted to different contexts.

Sebi

--
Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/

27 Dec 2007 - 2:56pm
Dave Malouf
2005

My experience as an anthropologist has taught me to resist the idea of
trying to find too much similarity between peoples. It is often connected to
presumptions, prejudice, and arrogant hubris.

So I do agree that "do no harm" is a good ethical principle, I think that
dan was thinking more about heuristic principles.

And to go back to "do no harm", I have found lots of historical harm in the
world of social science in its attempts to universalize and generalize. It
is a very very very slippery slope, that I feel humanity is probably
unqualified to mountaineer at this point in our soci-economic-political
history.

-- dave

On Dec 27, 2007 2:42 PM, Sebi Tauciuc <stauciuc at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, 27 Dec 2007 09:08:36, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
> >
> > Of course, at a biological level we all receive signals
> > neurologically at the some level of commonality.
>
>
> According to Pinker's "How the Mind Works", we are all the same more than
> just on a neurological level. We have several mechanisms (language,
> learning, feelings etc.) that work in the same basic way for all humans,
> even if they are adapted to context (culture, age etc.) and manifest
> themselves in different ways.
>
>
> > I also have seen how color interpretations change from culture to
> > culture, where as "contrasts" are not seen as stark among some
> > people's as others. yes, they are recognized as different. the same
> > is true for musicality and other things we often take for granted
> > within our academic communities.
>
>
> Color interpretations change, yes, but the fact that they are interpreted
> and given meaning applies to all cultures, I would guess. Same for
> contrasts: they may not be as stark, but they are there, and probably
> support the same interpretations in every culture (am I wrong?)
>
> What I'm trying to say is: since we are the same in more than just the
> biological level and we share common mental mechanisms, then surely there
> must exist some universal principles of design that apply to those very
> mechanisms we have in common, although the way they are applied will be
> adapted to different contexts.
>
> Sebi
>
> --
> Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
> http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

27 Dec 2007 - 3:00pm
Dave Malouf
2005

oh! can i add one more thing?

Do we need such principles/heuristics to be good designers?

I would much rather rely on observational techniques and case study
analysis than guidelines and principles such as the ones being
discussed thus far.

Especially in interaction design as opposed to other design
disciplines where we have codified a real design oriented critique
methodology and system. One big part missing due to the fact that we
don't have a large design education system for interaction design.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23952

27 Dec 2007 - 3:31pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

I have just looked through the book (UPoD). The principles described are
indeed those extrapolated to design from generic findings of cognitive,
behavioral psychology (gestalt, chunking, storytelling, framing, Fitts' and
Maslow's rules etc.) and physics, math (redundancy, self-similarity etc.).
Therefore they can be applied to heuristic evaluation of OLPC.

Two caveats: 1) since the principles are generic, to apply *some* of
them one needs to know cultural context; 2) this evaluation wouldn't be
nearly as insightful as the actual usage studies (this is not a caveat
actually, this is an axiom, or a platitude - whichever agrees with your mood
today) .

Incidentally, when the cultural bias is possible, the possibility is
discussed in the book. For instance, look under Color, Three-Dimensional
Projection, Iconic Representation.

Oleh

On Dec 27, 2007 12:42 PM, Sebi Tauciuc <stauciuc at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, 27 Dec 2007 09:08:36, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
> >
> > Of course, at a biological level we all receive signals
> > neurologically at the some level of commonality.
>
>
> According to Pinker's "How the Mind Works", we are all the same more than
> just on a neurological level. We have several mechanisms (language,
> learning, feelings etc.) that work in the same basic way for all humans,
> even if they are adapted to context (culture, age etc.) and manifest
> themselves in different ways.
>
>
> > I also have seen how color interpretations change from culture to
> > culture, where as "contrasts" are not seen as stark among some
> > people's as others. yes, they are recognized as different. the same
> > is true for musicality and other things we often take for granted
> > within our academic communities.
>
>
> Color interpretations change, yes, but the fact that they are interpreted
> and given meaning applies to all cultures, I would guess. Same for
> contrasts: they may not be as stark, but they are there, and probably
> support the same interpretations in every culture (am I wrong?)
>
> What I'm trying to say is: since we are the same in more than just the
> biological level and we share common mental mechanisms, then surely there
> must exist some universal principles of design that apply to those very
> mechanisms we have in common, although the way they are applied will be
> adapted to different contexts.
>
> Sebi
>
> --
> Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
> http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/
> ____________________________________________________________
>

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

27 Dec 2007 - 8:37pm
.pauric
2006

Oleh:"Therefore they can be applied to heuristic evaluation of
OLPC."

To what end? To measure success?

What is the primary goal with the OLPC, a successful 'design', or
to simply satisfy an enormous hunger for learning?

In the same way the UN & RedCross/Cresant dont fly Gordon Ramsey in
to famines when the cost/requirement necessitates something
completely different, it is completely and utterly unnecessary to
perform such an postmortem in this context. Good design costs money.

The needs, goals, requirements and deliverables are arguably unlike
anything we've come across before.

To Roberts point in the preceding thread about his valid complaints
on the sluggish interaction, one word... $150 (although it should
have been $100) that is the ultimate measure of success of this
project. Miss that 'heuristic' and the entire project fails.

Dan:"So you feel that everything is contextual, that there are no
universal principles of good design that are always true?"

Let me turn that around, would you argue that Negroponte should have
waited until technology advanced to the point where an iPhone grade
machine could have been delivered to children in developing
countries. Sorry to turn the conversation back on to the OLPC
specifically, thats how I tend to rationalise and feel free to
generalise back out to universal design principles - regards - pauric

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23952

27 Dec 2007 - 10:10pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

pauric:

> Oleh:"Therefore they can be applied to heuristic evaluation of OLPC."
>
> To what end?

1. My comment was about the applicability of heuristics based on universal
design principles as a method to evaluate OLPC design.
2. As an excercise.

> To measure success?

? Can heuristics measure success?

> What is the primary goal with the OLPC, a successful 'design', or
> to simply satisfy an enormous hunger for learning?

A successful design to satisfy an enormous hunger for learning via
exploration (the exploration is indeed the best way to learn - the most
involving and with the most enduring results). From what I have seen Kay has
succeeded. And, by the way, I admire both the idea and the approach.

Oleh

>
>
> In the same way the UN & RedCross/Cresant dont fly Gordon Ramsey in
> to famines when the cost/requirement necessitates something
> completely different, it is completely and utterly unnecessary to
> perform such an postmortem in this context. Good design costs money.
>
> The needs, goals, requirements and deliverables are arguably unlike
> anything we've come across before.
>
> To Roberts point in the preceding thread about his valid complaints
> on the sluggish interaction, one word... $150 (although it should
> have been $100) that is the ultimate measure of success of this
> project. Miss that 'heuristic' and the entire project fails.
>
> Dan:"So you feel that everything is contextual, that there are no
> universal principles of good design that are always true?"
>
> Let me turn that around, would you argue that Negroponte should have
> waited until technology advanced to the point where an iPhone grade
> machine could have been delivered to children in developing
> countries. Sorry to turn the conversation back on to the OLPC
> specifically, thats how I tend to rationalise and feel free to
> generalise back out to universal design principles - regards - pauric
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23952
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

28 Dec 2007 - 12:23am
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

There are probably several on this list who have grown up in two or more
substantially different cultures. Here are a few observations from that
perspective.
Flipping through the pages of UPoD, I find nothing there that COULD NOT be
considered universal. After all, we are the same human species, and are
hardwired in the same fashion. There is, of course, another, big part that
is available for softwiring -- the part that is at the core of our capacity
to learn. Softwiring is behaviorally established through mechanisms such as
culture and context. Some of this softwiring is easily reversible (or
transformable), especially when the individual is young, or when a behavior
is not deeply established. This is what training is about. Training is
complementary to good design -- that which cannot be made obvious or
automatic or easy can be accomplished through training. Of course, one's
ability to unlearn or relearn generally diminishes with age.

Even where it might be easy for the individual to change their perceptions
and behaviors, their context might constrain what is conveniently possible.
Examples:

1. Jaipur Foot

The Jaipur Foot is a prosthetic foot for amputees developed by a craftsman
in the Indian city of Jaipur.

http://www.jaipurfoot.org/

http://www.goodnewsindia.com/index.php/Magazine/story/jaipur-foot/

He found most amputees rejecting existing prosthetics which were based on
designs developed in the West. The traditional prosthetic did not permit
the kinds of activities and behaviors common to the people of India.
Importantly, much of the Western urban landscape is 'carpentered', the term
psychologists use for artificial environments filled with right angles and
smooth surfaces, while much of India is made up rough, uneven, terrain.
Then there are issues of social perception of a prosthetic. Rural Indians
don't wear trousers and shoes that can conceal the presence of a prosthetic.
Further, Indians traditionally squat on the floor rather than sit on a
chair.

The Jaipur Foot has been very successfully adopted in the so-called
'developing' or 'underdeveloped' world. Is the Jaipur Foot based on UPoD?
Of course, it has to be, whether this was done consciously or not.
Nevertheless, those principles had to be applied to specific social
environmental contexts. Hence, design is shaped by universal principles and
informed by culture and context.

2. The Potty

How many on this forum have used both a Western as well as 'Asian' style
potty? Defecation is a natural human (animal) function and how many ways
are there to do it anyway, right? Nevertheless, traditional 'Easterners'
(there's got to a better way to refer to 'Other' people, but anyway) feel
uncomfortable using a Western style potty. Given no other option or with
training, they can eventually get comfortable with using a Western style
potty, but their overwhelming preference is for an 'Asian' one.

How do Universal Principles apply here? I see absolutely no contradiction;
both styles of potty are necessarily based on Universal Principles - it'
just that the final form that they take are different, because of contextual
and cultural preferences.

3. Tableware

Plates in India are typically made of metal (stainless steel) with a flat
bottom and a wall or lip all around. This is done to accommodate the nature
of food eaten, which often contains liquids that run. The typical ceramic
plate design doesn't work too well (although it is used by many families and
in restaurants) with an Indian meal. If you have ever eaten a 'standard
meal' in a restaurant frequented by the middle/working class in India, you
would have been served your meal in a plate that has cups built into its
shape.

Universal principles? Without a doubt; but a little observation of food and
eating habits helped to inform the final design of the plate.

By the way, cups in South India have a lip around them. This is facilitate
easy pouring. For reasons of hygiene and to facilitate sharing of a cup,
south Indians did not like to touch the cup with their lips; the lip allows
liquid to be poured into the mouth from a convenient height.

4. Signs in public places

Since a sign is a semiotic device, it's design is heavily influenced by
culture and context. The form of a symbol as well as the colors used, and a
lot else are driven by culture. For instance, let's say you would like to
put up a symbol to indicate that a particular fenced of area is for
families. India has 22 official languages and a overwhelming fraction of
Indians are illiterate. It would be advisable to include symbols and
pictures along with any text. What sort of symbol would be appropriate to
depict a family?

The term 'family' means different things across the globe. In many
'developing' cultures, a family includes scores, perhaps hundreds of
individuals including uncles and aunts, and grandparents and cousins and so
on. Or family could be just mom and dad and kids and grandparents. Or just
mom and dad and kids. Or mom and kids; or dad and kids. Or dad and dad and
kids; or mom and mom and kids.

There are ways to finesse this problem. You could train people to associate
a symbol with a particular meaning. Or you could have a person stationed at
the entrance to allow or prevent people from entering the area. Also,
people are smart enough to determine, by observation, whether a fenced-in
area is meant for individuals or families.

If we understand the term 'design' in a narrow sense, we might restrict
ourselves to just coming up with a suitable symbol. 'Design' in a broad
sense would include the entire context and may or may not involve the use of
symbols.

Cheers,

Murli

28 Dec 2007 - 12:47am
Jarod Tang
2007

The principles is just some general solutions to some problems.
As Elements of Style says:
"It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard
the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will
usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the
cost of the violation. ......"
Also as your own book says, the design is not science, which have the
same kind of meaning.

Cheers
-- Jarod

On Dec 27, 2007 11:30 PM, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:
>
> On Dec 26, 2007, at 11:21 PM, dave malouf wrote:
>
> > b/c few if any of these laws came out of research on young
> > people. They are all tests done on adults that have gone through the
> > same level of socialization. And if my reading is correct all of
> > these laws are based on research only done in specific western
> > industrialized settings.
> >
> > By no means are these cross-culural/sub-cultural studies and I do
> > question them. They are also not age-based studies and further they
> > are contextualized around a specific use-context of computational
> > areas.
>
> So you feel that everything is contextual, that there are no universal
> principles of good design that are always true?
>
> (I wish I had my copy of the great Universal Principles of Design book
> at hand for this conversation. Would be great to pull some examples
> from there.)
>
> Dan
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
IxD for better life style.

http://jarodtang.blogspot.com

28 Dec 2007 - 11:37am
Jeff Seager
2007

I think it's a great idea to catalog universal design principles,
Dan, and optionally to illustrate them with use cases. I agree that
the manifestations of the principles could be very different in
different cultural contexts, and I think that would be important to
convey too.

I love Murli's example of the plate and cup, which many people would
assume to be fairly universal in design and use. Not so, and it's
not so in other functional design around the world. As I read about
the stainless steel plates, for example, it occurred to me that many
people around the world strongly object to eating with our familiar
forks and spoons because they impart a metallic taste to their food.
Having eaten a lot with chopsticks, I agree -- but not enough to ask
for chopsticks or bring my own at an Italian restaurant. Context is
important.

History is full of stories about technologies and beliefs (the two
are often inseparable) that were not accepted or assimilated until
their cultural context was translated. The Navajo only began to
accept Christian missionaries after hearing the Gospel of John, which
says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God and the
Word was with God." The Navajo creation myth speaks the world into
existence, and this was the first they'd heard from the Christians
that validated their own notions of the spirit world.

But back to the topic at hand, I think an appropriate design
principle to include is the "Hrair Limit" based on the concept
explained in the book "Watership Down" ... in which the rabbits in
the warren only counted as high as four, and anything more than that
was "hrair" or innumerable. The Hrair Limit for humans is
generally taken to be "seven, plus or minus two" ... and is the
reason our eyes glaze over when we encounter something too complex.
Forgive the explanation if you all know this, which you probably do.
I think it's a fairly common interaction principle, but hadn't seen
it mentioned yet.

The "Hrair Limit" may restrain us from the "more is better"
mentality that afflicts much design these days.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23952

29 Dec 2007 - 4:52pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 27, 2007, at 7:30 AM, Dan Saffer wrote:
> So you feel that everything is contextual, that there are no universal
> principles of good design that are always true?

To which Dave replied...

On Dec 27, 2007, at 9:08 AM, dave malouf wrote:
> Of course, at a biological level we all receive signals
> neurologically at the some level of commonality. But I have learned
> in my studies that cultural interpretations of signals can differ
> dramatically. For example, snow classification among eskimos, or in
> dream analysis falling dreams is a positive among people from New
> Guinea.

Careful Dave... you are showing your education bias here. 8^)

Please allow me to respectfully disagree.

There are design principals in all design fields, whether you want to
believe in them or not. It's like gravity. You can choose to ignore
it but it's still there keeping you alive on planet Earth without
asking for any compensation in return.

Color has core principals that define how color works and behaves.
Just look to Josef Albers "Interaction of Color" book for many of
these. Typography also has many core principals, many of which can be
found in Bringhurst's "Elements of Typographic Style." Tufte explains
some great core information design principals in "Envisioning
Information"; layering and separation, small multiples, etc. Grids,
proportions, composition... it's all there. And it works in the
background whether you know it or not in any design field.

All of these design principals exist largely outside of cultural
boundaries. In the case of type, we're mostly talking about roman
letter forms. But there are many principals in Asian alphabets as
well. And while it would be true that cultural bias largely dictates
the implementation of many core design principals, cultural bias does
not define these principals any more than how gravity works in China
or Mexico or Nigeria.

There are certainly some very sound principals in interaction design,
we just need to get better at defining them.

One of the few I've been discussing a lot in the recent past, as a
means of teaching students and discussing my design process with new
hires, is the concept of control via direct manipulation as an
extension of ones fingertips. It's long been understood how direct
manipulation in software has given normal people the means to work
with computers. It's the very foundation of the graphical user
interface over the command line. The basis for drag and drop,
iconography and the entire mouse interaction. But within direct
manipulation, there's a larger point I find a lot of interaction
design types not expressing well or neglecting to pay attention to in
their work.

The principal has largely to do with how all direct manipulation
should strive to behave like an extension of ones fingertips. To get
a true sense of control over any interface -- and that's the real
crux of any interaction with an interface for any digital device,
that sense of control over it -- the more the direct manipulation
behaviors operate like ones' fingertips, the better the interface
will feel to the end user. This is a design principal I have found
true in all circumstances, outside of context.

This principal by the way is largely why people respond so well to
the iPod and the iPhone. The interface's direct manipualtion pieces
are driven more by fingertip actions than anything. It's why the
interface in the movie "Minority Report" seems so cool and natural.
The glass wall computer was driven by using one's hands and fingers.
With computer and web software, we are always going to be limited in
the short term by the mouse, which can sometimes feel like an
extension of one's fingers, but more often then not, it doesn't
fulfill on the promise of the touch screen approaches from the
iPhone. Yet even with the mouse, there are ways to get as far as one
can to make the interaction feel like an extension of one's fingers.

This design principal explains why scrolling on the iPhone feels
better than scrolling on a computer. Dragging your finger across the
iPhone screen to scroll up or down moves the content in direct
relation to your fingers, and as such, feels as if you are in direct
control of the thing you are touching. On a computer, using the mouse
to click and drag the scroll thumb doesn't feel as natural in
comparison. The main reasons are that on a scrollbar, you click and
drag the thumb in the opposite direction to move the content (drag
down to scroll up) as compared to the iPhone where you drag your
fingers in the same direction to move the content. Further, on the
iPhone, you click and drag the thing itself to scroll, whereas on the
computer, you have to grab the scrollbar on the side, a control that
is ancillary to the thing you want to manipulate, forcing you to drop
focus to target the widget, for example.

This sort of design principal also explains why actions like holding
the spacebar in Photoshop to drag the canvas around horizontally and
vertically is something many people who use the product find
infinitely more usable than the operating system scrollbars. The hand
tool shortcut with the spacebar in Photoshop lacks the directness of
touching the screen to do it, but the fundamental concept behind it
is the same.

Interactions that are designed to feel like extensions of your
fingers will always feel more correct than those that require
intermediary widgets or controls.

So there you go... I'm sure I'm not the first person who has observed
this or has thought of this. But Dan's question is important. The
answer to his question is that yes, there are design principals that
exist outside of context, all fields of design have them. This
segment of the design world needs to discover and define its own to
better help those that will be changing the world long after we are
all gone.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

29 Dec 2007 - 6:56pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Andrei,
I was just provoking someone like yourself to so brilliantly tell me
I was wrong. ;)

That being said, what is the point of these great "laws of the
properties that we manipulate as designers" when their
interpretations and utility differ so widely across so many different
axis?

-- dave

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23952

29 Dec 2007 - 7:14pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 29, 2007, at 3:56 PM, dave malouf wrote:

> That being said, what is the point of these great "laws of the
> properties that we manipulate as designers" when their
> interpretations and utility differ so widely across so many different
> axis?

I'm not quite I understand the extent of what you mean. Which
particular axes are you thinking of?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

29 Dec 2007 - 11:37pm
.pauric
2006

Andrei:"It's like gravity. You can choose to ignore it but it's
still there keeping you alive on planet Earth without asking for any
compensation in return."

How the 9.8m/s/s is applied to rocket science and bungee jumping are
two completely different contexts for that universal law.

The same can be said for universal laws of design, yes.. they hold
true and if you try to break them you'll fail. However they do not
aid you in crossing the t's nor dotting the i's.

Fundamentals are critical to craft, but its 1/3rd the story.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23952

30 Dec 2007 - 12:07am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 29, 2007, at 8:37 PM, pauric wrote:

> How the 9.8m/s/s is applied to rocket science and bungee jumping are
> two completely different contexts for that universal law.

> The same can be said for universal laws of design, yes.. they hold
> true and if you try to break them you'll fail. However they do not
> aid you in crossing the t's nor dotting the i's.

> Fundamentals are critical to craft, but its 1/3rd the story.

The original question posed was are there design principals that live
outside of context. My long answer to that, via example, was that
yes, there are. Various core design principals exist in all fields of
design, so how interaction could be exempt is not something I even
begin to subscribe to. You also admit a core underlying principal in
your own counter example but seem to neglect that point.

I'm not sure what you are attempting to say (just then what are the
other 2/3 of the story that I'm apparently missing) or why even
inside whatever point you are trying to make you'd think I'm of the
opinion that I only view fundamentals as the only thing any designer
ever needs.

Again, I was answering a thread about whether core principals even
exist outside of context.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Dec 2007 - 12:57am
.pauric
2006

Andrei:"what are the other 2/3 of the story that I'm apparently missing"
you:"product design is not user centered nor technology centered. It
always has and always will be both."

Maybe my math is a little out of whack??

you:"The original question posed was are there design principals that
live outside of context. My long answer to that, via example, was that
yes, there are."

And we agree, but as David points out:"interpretations and utility
differ so widely across so many different axis"

you:"why even inside whatever point you are trying to make you'd think
I'm of the opinion that I only view fundamentals as the only thing any
designer ever needs."

I dont think that at all, you have a valid point, and in the grander
scheme of this discussion on fundamentals and context, the point I
feel Dave makes is that a good designer understands one and has a good
appreciation of the other.

So it seems we're all in agreement, fantabulous.

p.eace

30 Dec 2007 - 3:20am
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

"The principal has largely to do with how all direct manipulation should
strive to behave like an extension of ones fingertips. To get
a true sense of control over any interface -- and that's the real
crux of any interaction with an interface for any digital device,
that sense of control over it -- the more the direct manipulation
behaviors operate like ones' fingertips, the better the interface
will feel to the end user. This is a design principal I have found
true in all circumstances, outside of context."

--------------------------
This principle extends beyond fingertips. For example: my car is extension
of my body, wii is extension of my arm.

The more generic principle would be this:

*The more the direct manipulation confirms to the mental model of the system
(including the reflexive mental mapping), the more natural the interaction
will feel to the end user. *

The scroll bar manipulation in Word contradicts the stimulus-response
compatibility of the mental mapping. Incidentally this generic principle
is part of Reason's and Norman's models of errors.

Oleh

> On Dec 27, 2007, at 7:30 AM, Dan Saffer wrote:
> > So you feel that everything is contextual, that there are no universal >
> principles of good design that are always true?
> To which Dave replied...
> On Dec 27, 2007, at 9:08 AM, dave malouf wrote:
> > Of course, at a biological level we all receive signals
> > neurologically at the some level of commonality. But I have learned >
> in my studies that cultural interpretations of signals can differ
> > dramatically. For example, snow classification among eskimos, or in
> > dream analysis falling dreams is a positive among people from New
> > Guinea.
> Careful Dave... you are showing your education bias here. 8^)
> Please allow me to respectfully disagree.
> There are design principals in all design fields, whether you want to
> believe in them or not. It's like gravity. You can choose to ignore
> it but it's still there keeping you alive on planet Earth without
> asking for any compensation in return.
> Color has core principals that define how color works and behaves.
> Just look to Josef Albers "Interaction of Color" book for many of
> these. Typography also has many core principals, many of which can be
> found in Bringhurst's "Elements of Typographic Style." Tufte explains
> some great core information design principals in "Envisioning
> Information"; layering and separation, small multiples, etc. Grids,
> proportions, composition... it's all there. And it works in the
> background whether you know it or not in any design field.
> All of these design principals exist largely outside of cultural
> boundaries. In the case of type, we're mostly talking about roman
> letter forms. But there are many principals in Asian alphabets as
> well. And while it would be true that cultural bias largely dictates
> the implementation of many core design principals, cultural bias does
> not define these principals any more than how gravity works in China
> or Mexico or Nigeria.
> There are certainly some very sound principals in interaction design,
> we just need to get better at defining them.
> One of the few I've been discussing a lot in the recent past, as a
> means of teaching students and discussing my design process with new
> hires, is the concept of control via direct manipulation as an
> extension of ones fingertips. It's long been understood how direct
> manipulation in software has given normal people the means to work
> with computers. It's the very foundation of the graphical user
> interface over the command line. The basis for drag and drop,
> iconography and the entire mouse interaction. But within direct
> manipulation, there's a larger point I find a lot of interaction
> design types not expressing well or neglecting to pay attention to in
> their work.
> The principal has largely to do with how all direct manipulation
> should strive to behave like an extension of ones fingertips. To get
> a true sense of control over any interface -- and that's the real
> crux of any interaction with an interface for any digital device,
> that sense of control over it -- the more the direct manipulation
> behaviors operate like ones' fingertips, the better the interface
> will feel to the end user. This is a design principal I have found
> true in all circumstances, outside of context.
> This principal by the way is largely why people respond so well to
> the iPod and the iPhone. The interface's direct manipualtion pieces
> are driven more by fingertip actions than anything. It's why the
> interface in the movie "Minority Report" seems so cool and natural.
> The glass wall computer was driven by using one's hands and fingers.
> With computer and web software, we are always going to be limited in
> the short term by the mouse, which can sometimes feel like an
> extension of one's fingers, but more often then not, it doesn't
> fulfill on the promise of the touch screen approaches from the
> iPhone. Yet even with the mouse, there are ways to get as far as one
> can to make the interaction feel like an extension of one's fingers.
> This design principal explains why scrolling on the iPhone feels
> better than scrolling on a computer. Dragging your finger across the
> iPhone screen to scroll up or down moves the content in direct
> relation to your fingers, and as such, feels as if you are in direct
> control of the thing you are touching. On a computer, using the mouse
> to click and drag the scroll thumb doesn't feel as natural in
> comparison. The main reasons are that on a scrollbar, you click and
> drag the thumb in the opposite direction to move the content (drag
> down to scroll up) as compared to the iPhone where you drag your
> fingers in the same direction to move the content. Further, on the
> iPhone, you click and drag the thing itself to scroll, whereas on the
> computer, you have to grab the scrollbar on the side, a control that
> is ancillary to the thing you want to manipulate, forcing you to drop
> focus to target the widget, for example.
> This sort of design principal also explains why actions like holding
> the spacebar in Photoshop to drag the canvas around horizontally and
> vertically is something many people who use the product find
> infinitely more usable than the operating system scrollbars. The hand
> tool shortcut with the spacebar in Photoshop lacks the directness of
> touching the screen to do it, but the fundamental concept behind it
> is the same.
> Interactions that are designed to feel like extensions of your
> fingers will always feel more correct than those that require
> intermediary widgets or controls.
> So there you go... I'm sure I'm not the first person who has observed
> this or has thought of this. But Dan's question is important. The
> answer to his question is that yes, there are design principals that
> exist outside of context, all fields of design have them. This
> segment of the design world needs to discover and define its own to
> better help those that will be changing the world long after we are
> all gone.
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>
--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

30 Dec 2007 - 12:38pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 30, 2007, at 12:20 AM, Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:

> This principle extends beyond fingertips. For example: my car is
> extension of my body, wii is extension of my arm.

This is very true.

> The more the direct manipulation confirms to the mental model of
> the system (including the reflexive mental mapping), the more
> natural the interaction will feel to the end user.

Can you explain more what you mean by "mental model of the system?"
Maybe I'm being dense, but I'm not sure I understand how the mental
model means anything here, at least in the way I use and understand
mental models. In other words, how does a series of foot pedals and a
steering wheel present any mental model to the user other than its
how we learn to drive cars. And yet, driving a car feels like an
extension of one's body, so it feels right.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Dec 2007 - 12:43pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Dec 29, 2007, at 9:57 PM, pauric wrote:

> Andrei:"what are the other 2/3 of the story that I'm apparently
> missing"
> you:"product design is not user centered nor technology centered. It
> always has and always will be both."
>
> Maybe my math is a little out of whack??

That was a completely other topic and has little to do with the point
made in the other one.

> you:"The original question posed was are there design principals that
> live outside of context. My long answer to that, via example, was that
> yes, there are."
>
> And we agree, but as David points out:"interpretations and utility
> differ so widely across so many different axis"

Again, I already stated that in my response. It still has little to
do with the original question and the answer.

> I dont think that at all, you have a valid point, and in the grander
> scheme of this discussion on fundamentals and context, the point I
> feel Dave makes is that a good designer understands one and has a good
> appreciation of the other.
>
> So it seems we're all in agreement, fantabulous.

So in other words you were just being argumentative in response to my
post. Got it.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Dec 2007 - 12:47pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Because I rarely take the time to check my writing thoroughly
enough... (Bad habit, I know, don't ask. I only tend to read over it
once.) I've been using the word "principal" instead of "principle."
Ugh. Please forgive the error and know that I'm only this imprecise
in email since I hate typing. In other things I'm far more on the ball.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

30 Dec 2007 - 6:46pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

On Dec 30, 2007 10:38 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com>
wrote:

> Can you explain more what you mean by "mental model of the system?"
>
The primary function of neocortex is pattern prediction. I use "mental
model" as synonymous to the mental pattern.

Thus the one of universal principles of design would be this:

*The more the direct manipulation confirms to the mental model of the system
(including the reflexive mental mapping), the more natural the interaction
will feel to the end user (the less attention the system will attract). *

Oleh

31 Dec 2007 - 12:12am
White, Jeff
2007

Imagine that.

On Dec 30, 2007 12:43 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk
<andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:

> So in other words you were just being argumentative in response to my
> post. Got it.

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