Reading Response #5 

to Artful Design • Chapter 5: “Interface Design” + Interlude




Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University

Reading Response: 


From this week's reading, I'd like to respond to  Artful Design Principle 5.17 which states:

Principle 5.17: Embody!


In chapter five of the book Artful design, we take a detailed look at what an interface truly is, and how it should be designed. This includes many examples of different instruments and creations that already exist and their interface design process as well as looking at what aspects of humans should be considered when creating an interface. I found each of these interface examples to be interesting in their own way and was able to appreciate how many aspects of human movement and behavior there are to consider when it comes to interacting with an object or system.  One principle in this chapter and its following section ‘interlude’, that I found to be particularly compelling was principle 5.17 which is called “Embody!”. In this principle section, the text discusses how we as human creatures enjoy to, “feel as one” with whatever interface we may be using. Stating how an embodied interface allows us to move past just using an object and begin to think about what we can do with it without having to focus on how to use it or how it works.

While I think there are many important aspects of design addressed in this chapter and in this book, this is the one I feel as of now to be the most important. Ease of use is an aspect of objects and systems in our lives that can make or break their success. Using a system that does not work efficiently or feels “stupid”, is one of the quickest ways to get the user to hate it. This can happen in multiple ways, whether it be an issue of how well it works, say a program that is constantly glitching out or breaking down will not only frustrate the user but break the flow of the experience. The interface can also be designed in a way that is completely counterintuitive to how people want to use it or how easily it can be used, for example, a sidewalk can be made to be in a beautiful aesthetic shape and layout but if it goes significantly out of the way from where people want to go (even if it does end up going there eventually), people will more than likely end up cutting through the grass. Not that the sidewalk didn’t serve its purpose in building an aesthetic and being functional, but by not considering how people may prefer to use it, it breaks the flow of experience. 

To feel embodied with an interface allows the user to reach the more enlighted state that the designer likey wanted them to experience, and that is why I feel so strongly about it and why it needs to be considered in the design thought process. I particularly enjoy the last sentence in the principle 5.17 paragraph which states, “Our sense of Embodiment matters, for it shapes how we Think about and Interact with the world.” By being able to interact with something in a way that feels like it's an extension of ourselves, we can begin to truly explore our creativity and be our true selves without the interference of frustration, fear, or disappointment. (Unless the goal of your creation is to create feelings of fear, frustration, or disappointment, in that case, rock on. Whatever it is, I hope it’s the way you intended it to be.)