This is an excerpt from the book "The Ten Living Principles - The Craft & Creed of Transformative Digital Design"
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams
The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity. -Walt Whitman
User. It sounds bad. It has negative connotations. Before the age of the computer, it had a pejorative meaning. Some users are users, in the context of using someone for their own gain. However , in computerese, the user is the consumer of your work. Recognizing and respecting users as people, I will try not loosely use the term "user" again to refer to design consumers in this book, unless absolutely necessary.
The Underpinnings of a Digital Design Consumer
These people who use our designs, possess and exhibit the five aggregates, or skandhas (aspects) of sentient beings when consuming our designs: matter, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness, according to Yogic philosophy. This ancient Yogic delineation of a sentient person, also describes perfectly, a modern digital, human experience, either with a device, in a web page or using an app or computer program.
The matter is the content or the physical incarnation. The sensation is how the person experiences it. The perception is how and what the person sees through the lens and filter of his or her own experience. Are they turned off by it? Are they intrigued by it? The mental formations are what they think of it. Remember the term thin-slicing from a previous chapter? Users rarely change their minds after they have made a snap decision as to whether to like it or not.
And finally we come to consciousness in the context of the state of awareness, subjectivity or sentience. Consciousness encompasses awareness and feeling. You want to tap to that to make your designs resonate with the largest amount of people who consume your designs. As a matter of fact, you want your designs to attract viewership, AND have them feel good about it.
Taking the lead from Mignot's saying of "Art without Science is nothing", the personal experience of design is broken into three sub-domains of interest when it comes to studying the ergonomics of design and how it affects the personal experience. They are the physical, cognitive and organizational human factors.
Physical Aspects ~ Fitting in the Humans
The physical sub-domain deals with anthropometric, physiological and bio mechanical characteristics as they relate to human action. In the real world, I saw a very good example of this. I was shown the inside of the very famous M1A1 American battle tank. It was and is a formidable weapon. It's designers assumed that the tank driver is a scared 20-year old reservist from an urban center, thrust into the heat of battle. The human factor ergonomics incorporating this precept, were amazing. To move the tank forward, you pushed a joystick forward. The turret rotated by whatever way the joystick was pushed as well. You didn't have to think to drive it or fight it. In contrast, I saw a British tank where you cranked a wheel near your knee to turn the turret one way, and reached over your shoulder and turned a knurled knob to reverse direction. It would not rate high in usability experience, and illustrates perfectly, the necessity of taking into account, the art and science of physical ergonomics.
First You Must Get The Manual Out Of The Garbage
In device design, it means that you must be able to figure out how to use it without instruction and a manual. In web design, a good physical design means that to do an action, you do not need to scroll across the screen with your cursor twice to reach menu items, and you don't have to scroll down to read the entire value proposition of the message that you are trying to convey. Everything that is needed is close together, and placed intuitively where one would subconsciously expect it.
If you are a font designer, the physical component means that the font can be read from up close or afar. When it is shrunken, the words do not all blend together or create something that confuses the eye. In graphic design, the design elements should draw the eyes into the value proposition, rather than distracting the view to all over the page or screen. A person shouldn't have to work hard when absorbing the features of any design.
Mental And Cognitive Aspects
The cognitive sub-domain is concerned with mental processes, such as perception, memory, reasoning, and motor response, as they affect humans in the elements of a design. This means that the design should induce positive feelings. It should not contain discordant things that cause mental dissonance or cognitive dissonance. It should engender engagement. It shouldn't be work. If there are words, they should be attention-grabbing. The design should mentally motivate people to accept its message or value proposition. It must fit into the organizational domain that it was made for.
Cogs And Gears In Their Places
The organizational sub-domain deals with many factors of physical and virtual environment. In what organizational context will the design be used? Who will participate in using the design together? Is this a participatory design? Is this a social design experience, or a solitary one? Was it meant for work groups, or family groups? This is the chief design criteria and consideration for social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
Don't forget that design not only involves the visual element, but the gears and wheels or the code behind it to make it work, as well as the structure required behind it to support it. The structure includes both the operational structure and the audience structure. The two go hand in hand.Those three elements of design (physical, cognitive, organizational) all have to be taken into account when producing a digital design of worth.
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