Peter's Interaction Design Blog

Under constructions - Design soon to be Implemented

Norman's The Design of Everyday Things and Interaction Frogger

In Donald Normans The Design of Everyday Things (2013) he describes 7 fundamental principles of design: discoverability, affordances, conceptual models, signifiers, constraints, mapping and feedback. We used these seven principles to analyse the interaction with three different types of artefact: a screen based design, a non-technological and an interactive physical artefact. These where the MobliePay app, a toaster and a classic MP3-player.

We started by discussing affordances and signifiers, as it was what spoke to us when observing the artefact; however, what became interesting when getting hands-on was the feedback and mapping. Using a MP3 player the feedback must be a direct result of your actions, i.e. immediate in the form of changing number (and a physical click so that we know we have pressed the button), as for not to become confused whether the device has received our command. Else, one could get frustrated and press again, skipping a song or raising the volume too much.

On all three artefacts mapping was interesting for their own reasons. The toaster for not having any apparent mapping other than the slider, as its position leads to understanding that it lowers bread. The MP3 having all of its controls in a little organised cluster. And the MobilePay app had classics such as the number-pad. The numbers correlation and proximity lead to the natural understanding that they are the controls for you to enter your PIN. This is, however, more a testament to the design of the telephone rather than the app…

Of course, this doesn't mean that the affordances and signifiers wasn’t interesting to look at. Especially the toasters slider for descending and turning it on has qualities that play naturally into how we instinctively would use it. Without much signifiers, it feels as if grabbing that slider and lowering the bread is made for organisms with arms and fingers, much to my luck.


Interaction frogger (2004) describes person-product interactions through feedback and feedforward by coupling action and information. This is done through the six characteristics: time, location, direction, dynamics, modality and expression.

When describing the MobilePay app feedback it is apparent that feedback has been used very deliberately. Very often augmented feedback, due to the non-mechanical nature of the modern smartphone. Everything from the sound of a successful transaction to the virtual receipt being slowly printed is artificially constructed feedback made to inform the user that the action of sending money has happened. The virtual receipt is also an expression of the transition made through an analogy of the real world. It could just have said transaction complete, but the aesthetic expression and ubiquity of the receipt reflects upon the action that have happened and make sure that everyone is in on it.

The Direction characteristic is obvious to talk about in regards to the toaster. It is inherently a vertical-action object due to its mechanics; however, this is used to its advantage. The slider has an element of feedforward as it communicates that you are able to slide it down, due it being the only direction it can go (a little throwback to Norman's constraints).

My expectations for Designing interactive artefacts

As I already have completed the bachelor in digital media and design, my expectations have been shaped by the last 3 years. In addition, he promises of what has been described and rumoured by tales of students’ past combined into the mix, results in high expectations. As I have a decent knowledge of Arduino and the foundational knowledge of interaction design, I look forward to having the possibilities of combining it with an outlet of relative freedom, so that I have the possibility of making artefacts on a scale that I have not have had before. Although I have high expectations of what we are going to make, I too have expectations of expanding upon the academic that was laid during the bachelor.

Reflections and arguments for sake of design

Having been through the bachelor in Digital Media and Design, the article by Dalsgaard, Dindler and Fritch (2013) and the article by Ehn (1998) resonates with the way we have been taught, to look reflectively on not just our process and results, but also the way we argue for it. Throughout the design processes that we have taken part in, it has been evident that reflectiveness is a tool for the designers to use, as I creates reason to design, due to the “soft” sciences of design having no impact without the counterbalancing “hardness” as Ehn’s Manifesto for a digital Bauhaus (1998) describes. The points made in Design Argumentation in Academic Design Education (Dalsgaard, Dindler & Fritch, 2013) about the necessity of proper academic argumentation in the realm of design, was also ever-present in the bachelors program. In this article they present a design vocabulary to formulate and argue claims based on empirical, theoretical and material grounds. Argumentation and reflectiveness is a necessity for design to reach academic heights.