Thursday, January 31, 2008

Five Rules for Communication between Machines and People

Rules for UID from Don Norman's book ...

"This article is an excerpt from the author's latest book The Design of Future Things. The book is published by Basic Books in 2007. The Chinese version of this book is being translated by the uiGarden team and will be published later this year (2008)

Editor: At the end of the book, the author compared the rules developed by machine with the rules developed for human designers. Here is how machines think about communicating with human beings.

1. Keep things simple.

People have difficulty with anything complicated, and they don’t like to listen. So, make the message short. It’s better not to use language. It takes too long, and, anyway, human language is ambiguous.

2. Give people a conceptual model.

Give them something their simple minds can understand. A conceptual model is a fiction, but a useful one. It takes them think that they understand. And they always want to know what’s coming next. So, tell them what you are doing, and don’t forget to tell them why. It keeps them happy. The best way to convey the conceptual model is through “natural” communication systems.

Sometimes the most “natural” way to get people’s attention is for us machines to act strangely. “Natural,” of course, means natural to them, which means that if they are doing something wrong, you can’t just tell them: you have to make it seem like something is breaking. People often drive dangerously, but it is almost impossible to explain this to them. The best way is to make believe that we are in difficulty. We have found that vibration, jerkiness, nonresponsiveness to controls, and strange noises are extremely effective. People quickly form a conceptual model that something has broken, so they slow down, which is what we wanted them to do all along.

3. Give reasons.

People are not trusting. If we tell them something, they always want to see for themselves. They like pictures and diagrams. Make certain that the explanations you give them are consistent with the conceptual models that you have taught them. They get confused otherwise.

When we were first starting to take over things from people, we had trouble. Our early twenty-first-century automobiles had almost completely given up trying to explain to people that they should drive more slowly on wet roads. Then, we discovered that if we made it seem as if we were in trouble by faking skids and sliding around on the road, people would beg us to slow down. Sliding and skidding fit their model of danger far better than any words could have done. It gives them a reason. So whenever possible, don’t try to tell them: let them experience it.

4.Make people think they are in control.

When people have a good conceptual model with good feedback, it makes them feel as if they are in control, even when they aren’t. Keep up that deception: it’s very useful. People like to be in control, even though they are really bad at it. They like to think they’re in control even if it means they have to work harder."    (Continued via uiGarden)    [Usability Resources]

The Design of Future Things

Recommended Book

Check-out more books at Usernomics.


Anonymous Cedric said...

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5:41 PM  

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