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III. False Blame

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Norman’s little anecdote about the “return” key and “enter” key switch up was interesting because it relates to sociology.  It talks about where humans put the blame depending on the situation.  The secretaries in the story hit the “return” key when they should’ve hit the “enter” key but shifted the blame to themselves.  They decided to not blame the faulty design of the keyboard because they thought it was just simple human error; they thought that it was their fault for not remembering which key was which.  However, the case of he matter is the creator expected the users to read the manual and remember the correct placement of the keys.  As Norman says, “complex devices will always require some instruction and someone using them without instruction should expect to make errors and to be confused.  But designers should take special pains to make errors as cost-free as possible” (35 Norman).  He then goes onto talking about how “the designer must assume that all possible errors will occur and design so as to minimize the chance error will occur and design so as to minimize the chance of error in the first place, or its effects once it gets made” (36 Norman).  This observation takes me back to the time that I used the first model of the EnV, a phone, and kept missing the space key.  ON a normal keyboard or even a regular QWERTY [phone] keyboard, the spacebar is usually located on the bottom middle.  However, for the EnV the designer decided to place the spacebar on the right where the enter key is usually placed.  I kept forgetting that the spacebar was in a different location but just blamed it on myself thinking it was simple error.  Now reflecting back on the passage in Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, I now know that the switch up I made was due to a bad design..  Honestly, what’s the point of designing something that takes hours to figure out?

lg-envthe first model of the EnV and the space key is all the way under the return key on the right.

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Written by minjikwon

September 16, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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