Why not figure out the variety of ways a person might

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Why not figure out the variety of ways a person might fill out a form and accommodate all of them? Some companies have done
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excellent jobs at this, so let us celebrate their actions. Consider Microsoft s calendar program. Here, it is possible to specify dates any way you like: November 23, 2015, 23 Nov. � � 15, or 11.23.15. It even accepts phrases such as a week from Thursday, tomorrow, a week from tomorrow, or yesterday. � � � � Same with time. You can enter the time any way you want: 3:45 PM, 15.35, an hour, two and one-half hours. Same with � � � � � � telephone numbers: Want to start with a + sign (to indicate the code for international dialing)? No problem. Like to separate the number fields with spaces, dashes, parentheses, slashes, periods? No problem. As long as the program can decipher the date, time, or telephone number into a legal format, it is accepted. I hope the team that worked on this got bonuses and promotions. Although I single out Microsoft for being the pioneer in accepting a wide variety of formats, it is now becoming standard practice. By the time you read this, I would hope that every program would permit any intelligible format for names, dates, phone numbers, street addresses, and so on, transforming whatever is entered into whatever form the internal programming needs. But I predict that even in the twenty-second century, there will still be forms that require precise accurate (but arbitrary) formats for no reason except the laziness of the programming team. Perhaps in the years that pass between this book s publication and when you are read- two: The Psychology of Everyday Actions 71 ing this, great improvements will have been made. If we are all lucky, this section will be badly out of date. I hope so. The Seven Stages of Action: Seven Fundamental Design Principles The seven-stage model of the action cycle can be a valuable design tool, for it provides a basic checklist of questions to ask. In general, each stage of action requires its own special design strategies and, in turn, provides its own opportunity for disaster. Figure 2.7 summarizes the questions: 1. What do I want to accomplish? 2. What are the alternative action sequences? 3. What action can I do now? 4. How do I do it? 5. What happened? 6. What does it mean? 7. Is this okay? Have I accomplished my goal? Anyone using a product should always be able to determine the answers to all seven questions. This puts the burden on the designer F IGURE 2 .7. The Seven Stages of Action as Design Aids. Each of the seven stages indicates a place where the person using the system has a question. The seven questions pose seven design themes. How should the design convey the information required to answer the user s question? Through appropriate constraint and mappings, signifiers and conceptual models, feedback and visibility. The information that helps answer questions of execution (doing) is feedforward. The information that aids in understanding what has happened is feedback.
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