Category Archives: Assignment Week 1

Assignment 1 Part 2

Choose two objects that you use every day (you cannot pick mobile phones or laptop/computer) and analyze their design using the principles described in Chapter 1 of The Design of Everyday Things.  Imagine describing what the object is and what it’s designed to do to someone who has never seen it before.  Is it intuitive or frustrating? Come up with three ways to alternate the design for that object and see how it changes its function.  Make drawings and notes in your journal.


Object 1: Chopsticks

Description: a pair of sticks made of either plastic, wood or metal. Comes in various designs and shapes (e.g. patterned, textured, long/short, thick/thin, round/square/ triangular)


  • Presented as a pair (One for each hand? Or for one hand only)
  • Can hold any part along the length of the chopstick
  • However, the chopsticks can still be used even if held the wrong way (e.g. opposite directions, or wrong ends facing down)
  • More than one way to use them or hold them and position the fingers
  • When used as a pair it allows scooping actions, sweeping actions and picking actions. Versatile
  • Allows stirring as well



  • Rounded tips (not sharp: not meant to pierce or cut things) Not a skewer. Certain food can easily slide off if pierced due to tapering
  • Tapered ends, more comfortable to hold the thicker ends and not the thinner ones
  • Some ends are also decorated, indicating that it should not be in contact with the food
  • Cannot scoop liquid or soft foods


Principles of mapping

  • No natural mapping, unless one is exposed to others using the chopsticks in the correct manner. (if everyone was wrongly taught since young, or if the community does not use such utensils, nobody would know)
  • Less visibility to the set of possible actions. The design for chopsticks are usually very simple


Principles of feedback

  • Cannot pick up food and eat properly unless held and used properly
  • Not the best feedback, chopsticks can be used in various ways, not just one.
  • Only the direction it is held in can be guessed (more comfortable to grasp the thicker ends)
  • Even if held properly, sometimes fail in picking up the food if too small or slippery. The spoon and fork are easier to handle.



  • Attached at one end (like in beginner chopsticks for children). Know where to hold. Easy to use like a tweezer, would not misplace one stick.
  • Attached at one end by a rope and very long (like in cooking chopsticks) not meant for eating comfortably. Meant for hanging and drying
  • Indented to fit the fingers at different parts of the sticks to constrain where it is held at.


Object 2: Nail clipper

Description: Made of metal, comes in a few sizes. Some has designs on them and some plain



  • Allows cutting
  • A movable and flat piece of metal (a handle) connected to a hinge: if used with one hand, there are two ways to position the part. Only one way is the most comfortable. This step requires two actions.
  • Sharp end: meant for cutting something
  • Open blades: Precise cutting
  • Some clippers come with a nail file and a sharp end (for cleaning nails?) Have to be swiveled out.
  • The handles do not constrain the direction in which the clipper is held
  • Compact (unlike a plier) and can be stored safely
  • Light weight and portable: can be lifted and used easily by anyone
  • Horizontal and flat blades: clipper can be held in any direction and still cut effectively



  • Curved blades: fits the shape of nails
  • Some clippers come with bent handles for a more firm and comfortable grip, controls where you hold it
  • Small: not meant for heavy duty uses or for cutting large surfaces
  • Quite unstable if placed flat on a surface (does not cut well or accurately)


Principles of mapping

  • Not visible how the user is supposed to flip the handle out and swivel it towards themselves before being able to hold it comfortably in one hand.
  • Clippers with a bent handle or ribbing would indicate where it is meant to be held
  • Can either use the palm or just the thumb to press down the handle. A flat base easily supported by the other four fingers.
  • Can also be held in the opposite side (upside down or facing the user rather than away)


Principles of feedback

  • Using it with the metal handle swiveled into the wrong direction makes holding it harder and unnatural
  • Most comfortable grip and direction depends on the user
  • Pressing the clipper forces the blades together.
  • Not for picking things up as the tips are too sharp, so it must be meant for cutting



  • Making the base heavy and large (not portable, but perhaps better for the handicapped)
  • Spring mechanism, opened by releasing clip or some support. Easy to open to use. Can open with one hand only.
  • A curved blade like in the horizontal curve of a nail. The clipper can only be used right side up or else it might damage the nail. Not suitable for people whose nails are flatter and larger as well.


Assignment 1 Part 1

Find two maps of a building or place you have visited – one map is badly designed and the other is well designed.  Be prepared to explain your examples and bring maps to class. Think of a time you were lost in a place and write in your journal how and why you got lost.  What about the user experience didn’t work for you?

I was not able to find two maps of a same place, but found two different maps for different places instead!

Good Map: Macritchie Reservoir


Good points:

  • Very straightforward, only a few paths deviating from the main trails
  • Useful and concise information given (such as the distance, time taken and difficulty level)
  • Colour-coded trails and accurately drawn map, with landmarks stated
  • Important facilities like toilets and bus stops also clearly illustrated using icons
  • The trails have many sign boards which indicate direction and distance
  • Rules and precautions stated. Important contact info stated. (however, the opening hours and days for Tree-Top walk not stated)

“Bad” Map: National Gallery Singapore


Good points:

  • Colour-coded areas according to category (F&B, retail stores, galleries, etc)
  • Clear icons
  • Both top-down and side views given


Bad points:

  • Maps of buildings with many levels and information are generally confusing
  • After going through a gallery, it is hard to remember where you entered and where you are headed to next. Galleries have similar interiors
  • Colours quite close (turquoise, blue and sea green) force you to refer to the legend to double check what it is. Do bright red= important areas? Which areas do we take note of? Also, the red areas are not labelled in the legend.
  • Tiring to keep referring to the map and having to reopen it, so it felt better to just explore without the map
  • No guide where to start from and progress
  • Time consuming to fully comprehend the map