Week 1 Readings


Every week, we’ll compile a list of relevant or interesting readings and guiding questions alongside design examples. These readings and examples cover what we’ve done in class and serve as a preview for the coming week. While optional, we strongly recommend you take a look at them!

Apple Lisa: The ‘Ok’ Computer

By Adi Robertson

This reading by The Verge is an incredible exposé into the origins of human-computer interaction. It talks about the Apple Lisa, the failed but highly innovative predecessor to the original Macintosh.

Guiding Questions

  • The article mentions the birth of human-computer interaction. Based off what you read, how would you define HCI?

  • What made the development of the Lisa different to other computers at the time? Why do you think it failed?

  • The folks who made Lisa designed a product that was universal, designed around humans instead of tasks. This is one of the many reasons the computer was more user-friendly and accessible. What are some task-centric products that could be more human centered?

    • This is useful for bug-finding, as you’ll explore throughout this week and next week?
  • Apple made the new Vision Pro mixed reality headset. How is this new product similar to Lisa? How is it different?

Open Article

The Design of Everyday Things, Chapter #1

By Donald A. Norman

The book The Design of Everyday Things is one of the most iconic and impactful writings in the world of design. Norman is the director of the design lab at the University of California, San Diego. Chapter #1, “The Psychopathy of Everyday Things,” covers the world we’re in, how we engage with designs, the HCD process, and how to frame our design challenges. We’ve linked the entire novel and recommend you download it.

Guiding Questions

  • Consider designs you’ve previously worked on. How have they evolved over time?

    • If your designs saw change from their initial drafts, what caused such changes?
  • Are certain designs learned or inherently understood? What are cultural contexts that dictate our understanding of how to interact with certain objects?

    • Think of some examples of both!

    • What makes each example intuitive/learned?

  • Norman touches on the concepts of affordances and signifiers, which are the relationship between and object and its user, and means of signaling its use, respectively. How do certain affordances and signifiers lead to bugs in everyday life?

Access Book (Pages 1-37)