DISCLAIMER: Most of the subject matters in this film are closely related to the field of human computer interaction and our opinions and reflections will be based on this perspective
“When you see an object, you make so many assumptions about that object in seconds. What it does, how well its going to do it, how much do you think it should cost? The object testifies to the people that conceived it, developed it, manufactured it…Anything that is touched by man is transformed by man is by its very nature of design.”
Objectified, a movie made in 2009 by Gary Hustwit, talks about the creation and thought process behind the everyday objects that we use and interact with. It primarily focuses on the important relationship between an object and its design by making us more aware of subjects like industrial design, mass production, design sustainability, interaction design, human computer interaction and their ancillary fields. This is the second part of a 3-part series called Design Trilogy that gives us an insight on the role of everyday objects in our life and the people who use and design them.The discussions in the movie provokes the watcher with interesting ideas, trends and awareness about designs and objects, the production and usage of objects by human beings and the future of planning and creation.
After watching this 75 minute film, we were invoked with all sorts of different questions like
‘Why is this chair made of metal?’,
‘Why does this bagpack look like this?’
‘Why are most cups round and now square?’
‘Why do shower heads have holes in a particular way?
‘Why does wood create a feeling of warmth in us but the feeling of sand paper irritates us?’
‘Why does a telephone have a notification light?’
‘Why don’t we have reusable sticks in a toothbrush?’
‘Why aren’t things built to last?’
‘Why aren’t clothes waterproof?’
‘Why do we have icons?’
‘Why book cover have to be hard and the pages so soft?’
‘Why is this property about these small capsular pills that makes us perceive it as medicine?’
‘How to make things more efficient?’
Questions like these and many more made this film an interesting watch as even after you finish watching the movie, you don’t stop thinking about it. The movie contains many interviews and talks from renewed old and young designers from around the world on their ideas and philosophies behind the design of an object.
As mentioned in the movie several times, every object has a story of its own and a purpose to our human lives. From the time it was created to the time it was reached the market and from the time it was bought and used to the time its was discarded . Different objects have different meanings to our lives. On one of your busiest days something as unimportant as a coffee maker could be your best helping friend. On a forgetful day, a reminder on your smart phone can save you, reminding you on your grandparents anniversary. On a sad day playing a music instrument like the violin can help you unwind and relax. What is it about objects that trigger emotions?How can a designer give objects a character to create the desired experience?
A well designed object is capable of communicating with its user just by its function or form. It enables us to create memories. It is no wonder that people have spent years perfecting a simple tool like a coffee cup or a telephone. The movie illustrates scenarios on how to design well and what should a good design be made of. Well designed objects do not just look pretty, they are meant to serve and fulfill a function. Good design is not produced in the studio, it occurs by observing behaviour and needs. Good design is natural design where unnecessary things are taken away. Good design is under designed. It’s almost as if it wasn’t designed! An object can be well designed only if designers are intellectually and emotionally involved in the process of problem solving through innovation in design.
Gutes Design sollte Innovatives sein.
(Good design should be innovative.)
Gutes Design macht ein Produkt brauchbar.
(Good design should make a product useful.)
Gutes Design ist esthetisches Design
(Good design is aesthetic design.)
Gutes Design macht ein Produkt verständlich.
(Good design will make a product understandable.)
Gutes Design ist ehrlich.
(Good design is honest.)
Gutes Design ist unaufdringlich.
(Good design is unobtrusive.)
Gutes Design ist langlebig.
(Good design is long-lived.)
Gutes Design ist konsequent bis ins letzte Detail.
(Good design is consistent in every detail.)
Gutes Design ist umweltfreundlich.
(Good design is environmentally friendly.)
Gutes Design is so wenig Design wie möglich.
(Good design is as little as possible.)
Dieter Rams, Former Design Director, Braun Kronberg, Germany
The evolution of design has always been centered around this very idea. How can things be made better, faster, lighter, simpler, more functional, aesthetically pleasing and affordable that can truly improve the users’ experience. A user centered focus on design has lead rapid development in the fields of industrial design, interaction design, human computer interaction and universal design. Experts from various fields like these spend their life studying what it means for an object to have a good design and an artefact can solve a human problem.
The tools and objects we use everyday are not just affected by the thoughts of the designers, they are also affected by our choices. The relationship between price and design, modern day marketing, logistics, availability and policies also govern what we use and the way it is being used. The movie therefore appeals to designers to consider the economical, social and practical side of things while creating a product design that will be used by millions.
The movie raises awareness on the challenges faced by designers. Designers spend maximum of their time designing for the 10% of the world population that already own too much while 90% don’t have even basic products and services to lead a subsistent life. The mass production of goods and their wastage speaks volumes about how design, as of today is not made to last. The life cycle of a product is not just from the time it was bought to the time it was used. Designers need to think beyond product experience and need to think about what will happen to the product after its been designed? Why do most designed objects end up in landfills? Design should be forever. Design should be as such that it increases value over time and use. Objects should wear in instead of wear out. We don’t need to create new objects but we need to create new systems. We need to rethink processes and design systems that reduce consumption instead of increasing it.
Lastly, this movie throws a light on interaction design and human computer interaction. As trends have shown, Objects do not just exist in the physical world, they also exist in the digital world. the virtual e-card was very real communicating your emotion to your loved one. That conversation you had with your uncle through a VOIP application on your laptop was very real. The knowledge you got from that book you read on your plastic, glass and metal tablet is very real. The study of industrial design is now integrating with the field of interaction design and human computer interaction. Its no longer about creating hardware or software. It’s about designing for interaction.
To conclude, we recommend every person within the design or development industry watch this movie. Although the movie can be a bit irritating when some of the designers appear as nassarcists when the talk about the future of design how they will be recognized as cultural generators, we believe design will be a significant element in decision making and that the overall ideas discussed by the interviewers are often ignored by us. Design will create scenarios that shape people’s lifestyles. It’s not the designer who will be a crucial part of the design process, its the people will be a part of the design process in the future.
“Design needs to be plugged into human behavior. Design dissolving in behavior”
Naoto Fukasawa, Industrial Designer, Former Head of IDEO.
Interface efficiency helps quantify whether a design is functional or not. It is a fantastic technique to design better interfaces. It also tells us when you can stop looking for better design. Efficiency is usually measured as time on task, one of the quintessential usability metrics. It does not tell us how easy the interface is. It does not help us determine how fast the user will be and it certainly cannot detect beauty.
Can a new design make things faster? Sometimes. But by the time usability is measured it’s too late to change the interface!
Interface efficiency helps us determine when is the right time to stop looking for a new design.
KLM: The KLM requires that you describe how the user would do the task in terms of actions at this keystroke level. Basically, you list the sequence of keystroke-level actions the user must perform to accomplish a task, and then add up the times required by the actions. KLM helps us determine the time taken for various key stroke level tasks.
A few key stroke level tasks can sum up everything we do with a computer within the metrics of time:
GOMS is a modelling technique for Human Computer Interaction is based on the CMN model. It is a design method based on cognitive psychology. It takes into account 4 levels of cognitive activities:
Understanding Interface Efficiency through Aza’s blog was very interesting. However, KLM and GOMS took me a lot of time to understand. I understood the concepts thoroughly and its applications, however I must revise this again after a few weeks as many new terms were introduced in this lesson and this was possibly one of the most intensive one so far!
I have started playing around with CogTools. So far, I do not understand much. Will need to read their documentations.
This tool is probably one of the best ways to learn the fundamentals of Fitt’s law. It’s a fantastic way to understand the different variables that make up this law.
The Fitt’s law depends on 3 factors:
What are the implications of this?
Disadvantages of FITTs Law:
Is an attempt to understand the goals of task analysis, calculation and approximation. It enables us to predict user performance to a certain degree.
The model works on two principles:
Once complete, the calculations can then be used to determine the probability of a user remembering an item that may have been encountered in the process. The probability could then be used to determine whether or not a user would be likely to recall an important piece of information they were presented with while doing an activity.
Factors affecting the Principles of Operation:
Some applications of CMN Model:
This is probably one of the best lectures so far. Whilst I enjoyed studying Feedback, Errors, Forcing and Responsiveness, I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of Gestalt Laws. It’s amazing how these set of rules have changed the way I look at information, systems, objects and design. I look at my past work experience and I believe my quality of output would be so much better if I knew what I know now because of these simple and fascinating set of laws.
The second module gives an insight on how a good interface designer should consider the seven stages of action. Doing so, shifts the focus from designing to achieve tasks to designing to achieve goals. It’s important to understand how humans achieve goals through the a series of actions that are wonderfully explained using this diagram:
This module also explains that the usage of a device or tool should have information embedded into the environment instead of the brain. Knowledge is gathered through experience. The tool should demand minimal cognitive effort by the user thereby reducing the gulf of execution. Feedback should be instant in order to minimize gulf of evaluation.