Norman writes that “we have unwittingly accepted the paradigm that technology comes first”–in other words, we too often design without respect for the user and with too much reverence for technology. His key point is that technology should conform to us, not the other way around. On the face of it, this is an easy observation with which to agree. But dig a little deeper, and you find an implicit assumption: that the needs of people are somehow pure–unsullied by external forces–and all designers need to do is recognize that, and design technology accordingly.
[Source Image: Weenee/iStock]
People’s wants and needs do not miraculously appear out of thin air; they are shaped by different experiences over the years, including their experiences with technology, and in turn, technology is shaped by users’ expectations. For this very reason, the desktop PC was designed around historical office artifacts like file cabinets, notepads, and trash cans. We still call the modern mobile handset a phone, regardless of how little of that analogy still applies.
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