Today most practitioners of product design view the tenets of “human-centered design” (HCD) as more expansive than just for software interactions but still possessing a task focus, which has compelled perennial design thinker Donald Norman to warn of the downsides of following that process too closely. Though he has no qualms about the focus upon the user nor the iterative nature of the process, he does object to a focus upon tasks rather than collective activities.
Norman explains his critique of task-focus this way, “HCD has developed as a limited view of design. Instead of looking at a person’s entire activity, it has primarily focused upon page-by-page analysis, screen-by-screen. As a result, sequences, interruptions, ill-defined goals – all the aspects of real activities, have been ignored.”
He views the real challenge as the ability to deliver on “activity-centered design”. He states, “Tasks are situations with a single, well-specified goal, such as ‘respond to this email’. Activities are larger groupings, comprised of multiple tasks that fit together, such as ‘get caught up on the day’s correspondence’ which means reading email, responding, looking up information, sometimes to copy and paste into emails, checking calendars, and other associated, related tasks.“
What are the activities that describe gMod products? That is a dilemma. First, it is a technology domain and not a product. It would be like asking what are the activities associated with electricity? The answer is that it depends on the type of product that employs electricity.
Second, there is no precedent for use of a gravity-like field so how can we know in advance what the activities will be? However it can be assumed that some of the first products employing gMod would be extensions (possibly accessories) to existing products, therefore some activities will be extensions of existing behaviors, much like how some activities associated with use of the cellular phone are an extension of the use of landline phones.
Then again, other activities such as texting while driving (and please don’t) would have been difficult to anticipate in a pre-cellularculture. Therefore to get some idea of the activities that will be totally unique to gravity designed products it is best to begin with a focus upon what existing activities and tasks could be satisfied with gMod accessories applied to existing products, and build upon that knowledge before imagining entire activities unique to gMod products.
Norman, D. HCD harmful? A Clarification.” Don Norman’s jnd Website. 2004. Viewed 5 Dec. 2010. http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/hcd_harmful_a_clari.html
Norman, D. “Human-Centered Design Considered Harmful.” Don Norman’s jnd
Website. 2004. Also Interactions, 12. 4, (July + August, 2005). Pp. 14-19. Viewed 5 Dec. 2010. http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/human-centered.html
- gravity design
- the book gravity 2.0
- impact by industry
- Site-Wide Activity
- the science