First task: Communication and cognition

What do we receive in communication, what do we remember and what do we want to convey?

In the process that people communicate with, what factors affect it and how are messages transformed? Also, will there be a difference in the way the message travels depending on the media?

In this task, we introduce various media i.e. word, image (still image), map, gesture, movie, etc. as an introduction to information design, and students learn how human cognitive mechanisms are involved in communication design through experiments. At the same time, students will also learn how to experiment, observe, record and analyze information.

Here, students will consider the composition of messages, the flow of communication, the characteristics of media, the mechanism of recognition, the mechanism of understanding and memory, etc. Reconsidering the relationship between communication and design from the perspective of communication processes and information exchange is the aim.

First task's conceptual diagram of experiment
(in the case of map)

State of experiment (in the case of map)

Progress of the task


Experiment of message game (word, image,  gesture, map, movie)

  1. Choose media by group and prepare experiments for each media
  2. "Word" "image (still image)" "gesture" "map" "movie"

  3. Gather subjects and conduct experiments using a method of "think aloud" to find out how information is transmitted.
  4. Experiment contents:

    1. The instructor explains what the subject should do
    2. The subject sees and memorizes contents of each media
    3. The subject makes notes on paper about memorized contents while uttering what he is thinking.
    4. At this time, the video camera will record how the subject write down his memory and what he speech.
    5. Subject points to the camera and explains to others while showing the created note
    6. The instructor asks the subject about the memory process and features
  5. Analyze the results of the experiment

  7. Consider the flow of communication based on the results of the experiment

  9. make a presentation for other students in the class about the experiment contents and results of analysis and consideration

Experiment procedure
(in the case of map)

Make an video as a material
for experiment

Make an material for the experiment (Take a movie of explaining the way to the destination while pointing to the map)

Experiment contents

1: First, have subject B watch the explanation of the material VTR on the monitor and remember it (prohibited to take notes) 

2: Subject B reproduce the map for explaining to others based on his memory and create a memo (A subject should always speak what he thought with his head while drawing, and be recorded the situation in VTR)

3: Subject B explains the figure with the intention of giving information to others using the map that he drew by himself, while viewing the explanatory note,

2021 works of the first task

Taking up a piece of Fujiko Fujio's manga, "Obake no Q Taro", stydents conducted experiments to find out how information of a image is transmitted and how it is stored.

The material is YAHOO! JAPAN's CM "Search by touch". Students investigated what and how the video media, which is a temporal expression of images and sounds, is transmitted.


Group A's presentation of the first task (recorded on May 14, 2021)

Group B's presentation of the first task (recorded on May 14, 2021)

- Past work examples -

2020 Works of the first task

In 2020, due to the spread of COVID-2019 infection, all the first-semester classes were conducted online, students were not allowed to enter, and they could not even go to a friend's apartment to perform experiments.
Therefore, it was necessary to send each subject a smartphone stand and have them create their own experimental environment.
In the experiment, the subject receives instructions from the instructor in Zoom, watchs and memories the video of the experimental material, and reproduces the content in a memo while speaking. Other students observed and recorded the situation online through a computer and smartphone camera.

experiment scenery of group A about "MAP"

Subject during the experiment (smartphone can be seen in the upper left)

Subject's hand screen seen from the smartphone camera

Zoom's screen during experiment

Zoom's screen showing the subject's hand during the experiment

Presentation of the first task

2019 works of the first task

Taking up a piece of Fujiko Fujio's manga, "Obake no Q Taro", stydents conducted experiments to find out how information of a image is transmitted and how it is stored. (Sueyasu, Kikuno, Numata, Hamada, Okamoto, Takahashi

Students took up a program "Mouichido Japan" from NHK Educational TV as a material for the experiment, and think about how information would be transmitted through video media. (Fan, Shinozaki, Ishigami, Shimizu, Okano


Group A's presentation of the first task (recorded on May 24, 2019)

Group B's presentation of the first task (recorded on May 24, 2019)

experiment scenery of group A about "image"

The second task : Interaction and Task Process

Think about the interface, through user testing

When we use the bank's ATMs to transfer money, buy or search tickets on the Internet, what is happening between the world beyond the monitor and us?

In this task, the interactive process between human and computer in the information design is actually tested via user operation, and students consider the analysed data, finaly they draft the improvement plans.

  • Why do we need alive information?
  • What is the difference between dead information and alive information?
  • How can we handle alive information?
  • What is the mechanism for activity of alive information ?
  • Why do we need information design in our lives?
  • What does it mean that people and information systems interact?
  • What is the newness of information design and what is the problem?
  • Why do we need interaction?
  • How should we do to make an information system become easy to use?

The purpose of the second task and the user test experiment

  • Conducting experiments in which a subject actually use cognitive artifacts such as electronic devices and software with built-in information functions, students learn how to analyze the process in which users accomplish tasks, and the way to find elements, structures of tasks and problems.
  • Students actually experience what problems are there in the important usability (operability = ease of handling, cognition = ease of understanding, comfort = pleasantness to use, etc.) in the design of user interface.
  • Considering the relationship between the information structure of an information device (system model), the conceptual model of a user (mental model), and the conceptual model of a designer (design model).
  • Mastering computer tools for simulating task processes and giving presentations . (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)

Progress procedure of the second task

  1. Selection of information equipment (Find devices or sites connected to the Internet that have difficulty in use)
  2. User test rehearsals
  3. Collecting subjects, conducting and recording user tests
    a - An explaining person (instructor / person who promote "thinking aloud"),
    b - A person who record with video camera (video and still photos),
    c - Guidance / arrangement person, others
  4. Protocol analysis
  5. Analysis of task process
  6. Making information flow chart (to clarify information structure)
  7. Extraction of user's requirement, examination of usability
  8. Re-designing (proposal to improve)
  9. Making presentation material (Web presentation)
  10. Presentation (during the exam week or after the exam week)
  11. Making summary in HTML and uploading it

Experiment of usability in 2019, upper two "Yahoo! Answers", lower two "RICOH THETA"

2020 works of the second task

Share cycle "Daichari" in collaboration with "HELLO CYCLING"

Students took up various problems which occur when using the share cycling service "HELLO CYCLING", verify its usability through actual experiments and compared with the Chinese system, and suggest improvement plans.

Presentation of the second task (on October 9, 2020)

- Past work examples -

2019 works of the second task

group A :
Unfriendly to new users!?

-Yahoo! Answers app-

Yahoo! JAPAN app “Yahoo! Answers” was taken up as a material, problems in terms of usability was considered, and improvements was proposed.

group B :
360 °camera THETA

Problems of 360 °camera THETA and proposals for improvement

Taking up Ricoh's 360-degree camera “Ricoh THETA”, students reserched the process of shooting, transferring the deta to a computer, and processing with an app, through usability experiments, and came up with suggestions for improvement.

Presentation of the second task (on July 22, 2019)

Yahoo! MAP app

- Attempt comfortable operation by organizing information -

Taking up the smartphone application "Yahoo! MAP" and survey interface and usability issues through experimentation


Presentation of the second task (on July 23, 2018)


2017 works of the second task

group A :
Design to keep newcomers away

- Usability of 2 channel app, JaneStyle -

Students took up the browsing application "JaneStyle" of the electronic bulletin board site 2 channel, and consider the problem of unfriendly design for new users and suggest improvement plans


group B :
Printing of coterie magazine for the first time

Tom Publishing Reorganization

Regarding the website of a coterie print company, consider the problems of the price list that are hard to understand from both the graphical aspect and the structural aspect, and investigate improvement plans


group C :

Acquisition of new users by cancellation of implicit consent

Students took up an application "Mercali", which supports individual sellers and individual buyers, and support the buying and selling of products, and propose improvement measures to make it easy for new users to enter, by tracing the confusing reasons

presentations of the second task (recorded on July 24, 2017)

"The Design of Everyday Things" Experience report exercise

Let's look over design of things around again from the viewpoint of human centered design (HCD)

First students read D. A. Norman's book, "The Design of Everyday Things-Revised and Expanded Edition".
After that, they think about the contents of the book and look over again design of things around. Then they pick up ones that are inconvenient from the tools, devices, interfaces, signs, spaces, situations, etc. that are used unintentionally in everyday life, and create paper on the problems with the design and submit as HTML file.

The purpose of this task is mainly the following three points.

  • Read and understand this book that describes the basic ideas of information design
  • Observe the design around and consider it from the viewpoint of information design
  • Understand HTML, the most important Internet tool in information design, and put it together in a form that can be uploaded to the net

Seven basic design principles by Norman

  • findability
  • You can judge the possibility of actions and the state of the equipment

  • feedback
  • Information about the outcome of the action and its current state. Reaction to the action.

  • conceptual model
  • Conceptual diagram of system structure and usage. It is desirable for the user's mental model to match the designer's design model

  • affordance
  • Possibility of act

  • Signifier
  • Perceived availability of things. Perceived affordance.

  • mapping
  • Relating two or more things Intuitively using position or color.

  • constraints
  • There is a possibility of action, physical constraints, logical restriction, semantic constraints, cultural constraints, and it leads the action

Design examples with problems in Musashino Art University

The door which lacks signifier in building 8 of the university (It's difficult to know whether it should be pushed or pulled, so someone sticked a note on the doorknob.)
Photos in April 2015

A door ignoring the cultural constraints in building 8 of the university (The red door on the red wall is for men, the gray door is for women. It seems that some men rushed into the women's toilet) Photos in April 2015

"The Design of Everyday Things-Design Principles of Cognitive Scientists- Revised and Expanded Edition" Cover Image

the purpose:

  • Let's think about the various aspects and spread of design through seeing the design actually used from the user's point of view. (Design does not consist only of form and expression)
  • Let's learn how to read basic text written about the design. (To enter the wider and deeper design world)
  • Let's learn how to connect design principles and application methods to actual designs. (Let's think about "Principle and method ← → assembly of design")

Process of task creation:

  • For now, let's read to the third chapter.
  • Pick up the problematic items from the tools, devices, signs, systems, etc. around you, and think about what kind of human action principle the problem of its use is related to, and how it arises, then let's explain.
  • The report would be constructed by appropriately using information elements (information units, blocks) such as titles, sentences, photographs, illustrations, explanatory diagrams, keywords, and images (including movies or animations).
  • Design the compiled report into a web page using HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc., and upload (storage and release on server) it to the information design site.

2020 works of "The Design of Everyday Things" Experience report exercise


How can I throw it away?

When you usually have to throw away trash, finding a place to throw it is not easy.
Here are some of the most inconvenient trash cans I've found while looking for them to throw away trash.


I've never seen a door like this!

I've never seen a door like this!
Here's a look at a very unique doorknob signifier in a store.


Problems with a screen door at home

I pick up the problems of screen doors at my home and present the causes and suggestions for improvement.
This screen door is a very modern and well-developed product, but .......


It is hard to understand?

After the opening of both the Shonan Shinjuku Line and Ueno Tokyo Line, Japan's largest congestion on the Yamate/Keihin Tohoku Line has been greatly improved, and it has been highly evaluated that it become convenient to travel between the north of Tokyo and the city center.
On the other hand, some complaints and worries seem to be occurring at the same time.

Past work examples


The keyboard is hard to remember

Why is the keyboard layout so difficult to remember and need training? Perhaps it is because of bad keyboard design. I considered the reason from two viewpoints.


In which deirection should I pull the lever?

When you use a faucet, haven't you ever wondered in which direction the lever should be moved up or down or left or right? A lever of a faucet is a little bit hard to judge proper direction. Why do we choose the wrong direction?


iMac has a difficulty to use a little.

The stylish iMac, with its integrated body and monitor, is awkward to handle due to its USB plug on the back. The keyboard has a plug in one place, but if you plug it in more than one you have no choice but to use the plug on the back.


Confusion of cognition in "Firefly Switch"

I considered confusion of "lighting sign" and "lighting out sign" in "firefly switch" used for lighting equipment and suggested solution


A design and position

I took up an easy-to-missunderstand toilet sign at a certain university, and considered why people make a mistake and where is problems in the design.


Experience of failure at a coin laundry

Taking up the experience of my mistake on the operation part in the coin laundry, I considered the necessity of "mapping" in design and presented a solution plan


Really easy?
RakuRaku smartphone

I analyzed problems found in a process up to e-mail creation that was most troubled by my grandmother who changed her cell-phone to "a smartphone for the elderly", and suggested improvement plan


Problems of hair dryer

From the viewpoint of affordance and signifier, I considered the problem that the design model of the sliding switch of the dryer is difficult to understand for users


AC Hokuto ~ Isozaki's way to Shura ~

In the operation of the controller, the practice mode lacking feedback on what went wrong can not be compared with the case where it went well. It is a major obstacle to learning the behavior level


Why can't I plug in the USB memory correctly

Apply the use of USB memory to D.A.Norman's "7-step theory of action" and think about which part has a problem


It is hard to understand a queue at the stop of Seibu bus

I take up the problem of the sign system at Kokubunji Station north exit bus stop and propose the cause of the incomprehensible and its improvement measures.


Timer pressed too often

This report take up the problem which occurs when the timer of the home-use cold wind fan is set. Certainly, it seems to be awkward to use, such as mismatch between the number of presses and indicator lamps, and intolerance to usser's errors.


File Management of Podcast

iThis report take up problems about file management when it is downloaded via iPod and iTunes. The design that takes into consideration the difference in storage capacity between the computer and iPod seems to be the cause of the trouble.


Handle for opening a door

I tried to open the door and go out, but I was locked up without opening even if I turned the handle. I considered the problem about signifier and correspondence from my own experience.