This week’s CGT512 reading chapter1 of “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman emphasizes natural design. For example, doors have to be designed with proper visual clues so that people will naturally know which side to open and close the door, as well as to pull or push the door. I understand that for relative simple designs as doors, there maybe a common consensus regarding which way is natural for most people, but for complicated computer systems, what is natural may mean different to different people. After all, what is “natural” and where “natural” comes from? Are the feelings of natural come from previous experiences and previous training? For example, I’ve used windows OS for years before I switched to Mac, then I would feel many things in the Mac OS odd at the very beginning. I still think iTunes is oddly difficult to use until now. Some people would feel the so-called “natural scrolling” on the new Mac OS Lion unnatural, because they’ve used the opposite way for so long. The relatively elderly people would feel everything electronic unnatural for them, but the millennial generation was born with them and feel all these electronic systems natural. For doors, because it has been existing for so long, so everybody knows about doors, but for electronic systems which did not exist at human origin, whether they are natural or not, depend at least partially on the generations or groups of people who live with them or were born with them. The feelings of natural at least partially come from people’s environment or habitat. With all these being said, I still believe there are certain level of common consensus of natural feelings wired into human brains that can be integrated into complicated computer systems design, such as movement, gestures, touch, orientation of directions, color, etc.
Another question kept popping up in my head is that what is the relative importance of rigorous UX research and intuitions of talented people? The UX book by Hartson and Pyla laid an iterative UX process lifecycle, but what I got from reading Steve Jobs’ biography (correct me if I’m wrong) is that Jobs never did user study, he just did what he believed was good for the users, and he hired very talented people to do the design. Many aspects of many Apple products get cited as good design practices in many UX textbooks, but they seem not necessarily produced based on the UX process lifecycle, they were just produced based on the understanding of a group of highly talented people. These geniuses tell the users what they want, and then the products they designed were put into UX textbooks to train future UX researchers. Are genius intuitions better than rigorous research results?