The seven stages of action

Have you even thought about how we complete a super simple task such as drinking water in our daily lives?Norman splits a simple action into seven stages in his book The Design of Everyday Things and here I use a simple example of cooling the body (as the following figure 1 shows)to explain each stage(Norman, 2013, pp. 40–44).


figure 1

Imagine you feel a little hot in your room,and you want to feel cooler and more comfortable.Here you have a goal :cool the body.Of course you have so many ways to complete this goal,including opening the window,take off some clothes,eating some ice-cream and drinking some water.Now you are planing,and in other words,you are thinking about all the possible solutions to achieve the goal.You finally decide to open the window because the window is close at hand and it seems the easiest way to make it.Choosing a option among all plans is called specifying.Now you need to perform this action-walk to the window and open it.After opening the window , a fresh breeze spank your cheeks and you feel it.This stage called perceiving,which is based on human’s sensory system.Your brain starts to interpret this feeling and you feel cooler now.Finally,you compare what you have done to the goal.

Most people might think how unnecessary it is to split an action.However,Norman regard the seven-stage model of the action as a‘valuable design tool,for it provides a basic checklist of questions (figure 2)to ask’(Norman, 2013,71).




figure 2

In my opinion,this model is quite helpful because it helps designers think  thoroughly about what users really want and how to satisfy their needs in a best way.It is essential to stand  on the users’ perspectives and find out their difficulties and try to let each stage of action flows smoothly while they are using the product.

Norman, D.A. (2013) The design of everyday things: Revised and expanded edition. New York: Basic Books.


Posted in CTS.

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