Article Review: Design as Communication
Article Review: Design as Communication
The article Design as Communication is written by Ronald Norman, a professor of cognitive science at University of California, San Diego. Most of the literary work done by Mr. Norman is about usability and cognitive psychology and in this article as well, he has discussed the usability of design as a communication medium.
Main Ideas in the Article
The main idea in this article is to signify the importance of understanding of the conceptual model of a product for users, in order for it to be successful. It starts with presenting the idea of how an object can serve as a medium of communication between the designer and the user. The article then extends the idea of communication to the whole environment or system which tells the user how the action takes place, or in other words presents the conceptual model of the system. This action is a series of activities which the author calls a story. The story provide context to object which is necessary for a user to understand the purpose of the object. The article states that people have investigative nature about system and products that prevent them from understanding the system is not usually preferred. It presents an example of BMW IDrive which automated most of the function of the car using a single knob thus limiting the activities or stories of the user, hence it failed. Later in the article, the concept is then applied to computer system and states that in order for a product to be used successfully by people, they need to understand the conceptual model of the system which does not have to be through the GUI. It can also be provided to people by providing reasons for the development of that conceptual model. In the end of the article the author presents the idea of understanding conceptual models as stories in context which weave together all the essential components, providing a framework and a context and reason for understanding to the user and signifies it by stating that user of system with poor conceptual design struggle to learn activities and make frequent mistakes while performing them (Norman, 2007).
The article has an overall structure which explains one concept at a time and then builds on it however more need is felt about explaining the author’s idea in a computer science perspective. Furthermore, the author has started the article by giving examples of his showers, bathroom and soap to explain his ideas, which although are easy to understand but take away some of the seriousness and may be concentration of the reader (Norman, 2007). The bathroom examples also seem out of place. A more computer science relevant example could have made more sense in the article. It is also important to note that the article does not cite any references despite mentioning facts, thus assuming that the reader would believe whatever is said in the article. Also, the article spends much of the writing space on explaining concept with examples and less time on signifying the importance of understanding of a system for its user. The article has several grammatical mistakes in the article as well, which jump out when reader is reads a sentence which provides ambiguous meaning to the sentence. The tone of the article is informal in the start and switches between formal and informal throughout out the article. This gives a bit of disconnection to the flow of the article. The structure of the article is almost coherent with some of the information presented toward the end which could have easily been presented in the start. The writing style of the writer is not suited for a layman as despite using example which are easy to understand, the use of uncommon words such a connive and complex sentence structure make it difficult to read and comprehend in one go.
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