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INSIGHTS

Norman Doors and Six Fundamental Principles of Interaction

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Should you push it open or pull it open? I’m sure many of you have encountered this problem when you approach a door. Is that your fault though? No, those doors are just poorly designed. A Norman Door is a door where the design tells you to do the opposite of what you’re actually supposed to do.

Don Norman, whose work mainly involves the advocacy of user-centered design, was so frustrated with his inability to use poorly designed everyday objects, such as light switches and water taps, that he decided to write a book called The Design of Everyday Things, which addresses these kinds of issues. He also came up with six fundamental principles of interaction design.

6 FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF INTERACTION DESIGN

#1: AFFORDANCES:

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The qualities or properties of an object that define its possible uses or make clear how it can or should be used.

#2: SIGNIFIERS:

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Indicators of any type that communicate the action needed so the affordance can take place.

#3: CONSTRAINTS

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Limitations or restrictions (Physical, Cultural, Semantical, Logical) that give us clues that allow us to determine a course of action by limiting the possible actions available to us.

#4: MAPPING

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The relationship between a set of inputs and a set of permissible outputs.

#5: FEEDBACK

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Feedback happens when an object or system notifies the user that it is working towards the completion of its objective.

#6: CONCEPTUAL MODELS

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Connection between conceptual entities or mental states that result from the similarity between those states.

Even small things like the placement of a door handle can inconvenience many people. When we consider these six principles of interaction when designing products, it can greatly improve the quality of our lives. To quote Don Norman, “An ideal door is one where that as I walk up to it and walk through it, I’m not even aware that I had opened a door and shut it.”

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