72 The Design of Everyday Thingsto ensure that at each stage, the product provides the informationrequired to answer the question.
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The information that helps answer questions of execution (doing)is feedforward. The information that aids in understandingwhat has happened is feedback. Everyone knows what feedback is.It helps you know what happened. But how do you know whatyou can do? Thats the role of feedforward, a term borrowed from�control theory.Feedforward is accomplished through appropriate use of signifiers,constraints, and mappings. The conceptual model plays animportant role. Feedback is accomplished through explicit informationabout the impact of the action. Once again, the conceptualmodel plays an important role.Both feedback and feedforward need to be presented in a form thatis readily interpreted by the people using the system. The presentationhas to match how people view the goal they are trying to achieveand their expectations. Information must match human needs.The insights from the seven stages of action lead us to seven fundamentalprinciples of design:1. Discoverability. It is possible to determine what actions are possibleand the current state of the device.2. Feedback. There is full and continuous information about the resultsof actions and the current state of the product or service. After anaction has been executed, it is easy to determine the new state.3. Conceptual model. The design projects all the information neededto create a good conceptual model of the system, leading to understandingand a feeling of control. The conceptual model enhancesboth discoverability and evaluation of results.4. Affordances. The proper affordances exist to make the desired actionspossible.5. Signifiers. Effective use of signifiers ensures discoverability and thatthe feedback is well communicated and intelligible.6. Mappings. The relationship between controls and their actions followsthe principles of good mapping, enhanced as much as possiblethrough spatial layout and temporal contiguity.two: The Psychology of Everyday Actions 737. Constraints. Providing physical, logical, semantic, and cultural constraintsguides actions and eases interpretation.The next time you cant immediately figure out the shower control�in a hotel room or have trouble using an unfamiliar televisionset or kitchen appliance, remember that the problem is in the design.Ask yourself where the problem lies. At which of the sevenstages of action does it fail? Which design principles are deficient?But it is easy to find fault: the key is to be able to do thingsbetter. Ask yourself how the difficulty came about. Realize thatmany different groups of people might have been involved, eachof which might have had intelligent, sensible reasons for their actions.
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