In this article, Smith first talked about the three phases of technology use: 1. For enthusiast use; 2. For professional use; 3. For consumer use. Basically it is how technology, especially how technology evolved after the computer first invented. Then Smith talked about the switch, or relation between usability and sociability, in which he stated first the technology, I am guessing he also implied to design, should be usable, which is 「obvious」. But after years’ emphasis on usability, this is not enough. To prove its lack of some important respects that could promote its 「ease of use」, the author also cited others’ work to remind us that 「we must start by thinking about designing things so that they are right for people, rather than by thinking first about how to build it」, leading to a conclusion that 「there is more to living than utilitarian needs and the functions which satisfy them…we are interested in not only in what this technology can do for us, but also in what owning it means for us.」 And 「the interactive systems we design have implicit as well as explicit meanings」, which I totally agree. The author gave us several examples on this to explain what his understanding was. Then he discussed what a good interaction design is.

So for me, I agree mostly with the author on his points, but I still have some minor questions about what consists of a good design. The author listed several points that he thought as crucial, such as reassuring feedback, navigability and consistency. But I am confused about the author’s points about navigability. It seems to me that the author only considered some elements such as menu as navigability, which is true in a complex software development environment with thousands or even millions of functions incorporated. But today, a lot of software are 「light」 and focus on just some small respects. Like apps on App Store, for them, the author’s points are apparently, even not not at all applicable, incompatible to some extent. I am not saying apps does not have design on the aspect of navigability, what I am trying to say is, if we stress navigability following what the author’s understanding is, then navigation is will 「dislocate」 the ultimate goal of software engineering: 「natural interaction」.

I admit that navigability is important, and you can probably name a lot of examples to me trying to defeat me. However, navigation, no matter if you have realized it or not, itself will for sure sometimes interrupt interactions between humans and objects (software, physical interactive objects and so on). And that is why touch screen and gesture control are on their way to change our behavior and provide us with a better way to interact with software. The best design is no design, by no design I mean not to intentionally make people feel uncomfortable. Before gesture control and touch screen, find-click-execute mode have dominated our experience. Think about it, is it really reasonable for people to explore a big list of menu and find what they want to modify some part of content, or more feasible for them just to touch the part that they want to change and prompt the possible options that they can choose? No navigation is the best navigation, because it means it is just that 「natural」 for users to make is happen.

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Notes: Well after I talked with several classmates, I found they seemed to be confused about my points. In this article the author just limited navigability to 「menu」, which I think it is very narrow in this case. Navigability is not only menu but more importantly, 「navigate in an unobvious way」 which means, first time users could just use their life experience to use this software well in a very short time. That is 「designing for everyday life」 not 「design for abruptly change everyday life」

http://yangdaosen.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/smith-designing-for-everyday-life/

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