Seven Stages of Action

The "Seven Stages of Action" concept was introduced by cognitive scientist and usability expert Donald A. Norman in his 1988 book, "The Design of Everyday Things." The model describes the process individuals go through when interacting with an object or system, providing insights into designing more user-friendly and effective products. The seven stages of action are divided into two parts: the "gulf of execution" (the user's attempt to translate their goals into actions) and the "gulf of evaluation" (the user's attempt to understand the system's response).

The Seven Stages of Action

  • Goal: The user forms an intention or desired outcome, initiating interaction with the object or system.
  • Plan: The user develops a plan or strategy to achieve the goal, identifying the necessary actions to interact with the object or system.
  • Specify: The user specifies the parameters of the action, such as the object to be manipulated, the method to be used, or the values to be entered.
  • Perform: The user executes the planned action, interacting with the object or system as intended.
  • Perceive: After performing the action, the user perceives the system's response, noting any changes in the object's state or system.
  • Interpret: The user interprets the perceived response, making sense of the changes in the object or system's state and evaluating whether the desired goal has been achieved.
  • Compare: The user compares the actual outcome with the intended goal, determining whether the interaction was successful or if additional actions are necessary.

Applying the Seven Stages of Action in Design

The Seven Stages of Action model is a valuable framework for understanding user behavior and informing the design process. Designers can use this model to:

  • Reduce complexity: Simplify the steps and actions required to achieve a user's goal, making the system more intuitive and user-friendly.
  • Provide feedback: Ensure that the system communicates its state and responses clearly and promptly, helping users perceive and interpret the outcomes of their actions.
  • Minimize errors: Design the system in a way that reduces the likelihood of user errors and facilitates error recovery.
  • Support user goals: Focus on designing systems that effectively support the user's goals and intentions, considering user needs and expectations throughout the design process.

In conclusion, the Seven Stages of Action model offers a framework for understanding user interactions with objects and systems, providing valuable insights for designers seeking to create more user-friendly and effective products. By considering each stage of action and addressing the associated challenges, designers can create systems that better support user goals, minimize errors, and facilitate successful interactions.

See Also

Product Design