The Role of Metaphor
    in Interaction Design


Dan Saffer   Information Architecture Summit
             March 6, 2005
A metaphor is “a device for
           seeing something in terms
           of something else. It brings
           out th...
The Four Master Tropes
                                                 METONOMY: embodiment of the ethereal

            ...
But, soft! what
           light through yonder
           window breaks?

           It is the east,
           and Julie...
“Our     conceptual system
           is fundamentally
           metaphoric in nature.”

        —George                 ...
He spends his time wisely.
                                                                          Summer is just around...
SOURCE                                         META
                                                                      ...
Affection is Warmth

                                                                                     My love for her ...
is




Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
TIME SPACE STATES ACTIONS CAUSATION




Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
TIME SPACE STATES ACTIONS CAUSATION




Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
Interaction Design
                                                                                     Facilitating or in...
In the Design Process




                                                                                     Within Prod...
Metaphor in the Design Process


                                                                                     The ...
Metaphor in the Design Process


        “Things are selected for
         attention and named in
         such a way as t...
Metaphor in the Design Process




Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
Metaphor in the Design Process


                                                                                     Tea ...
Metaphor in the Design Process


                                                                                     New ...
Metaphor in the Design Process




                       An important part of the design process is selling
             ...
Metaphor in the Design Process




         Everything one                                                              Ev...
Metaphor in the Design Process




           No one addresses their computer without some metaphoric
           mediation...
Metaphor in the Design Process


                                                                                     The ...
Metaphor in Products


        “Friction in Scheduling
         and Coordinating Lives
         in Families:”
         Fri...
Metaphor in Products


                                                                                     Ryukyu ALIVE:
...
Metaphor in Products


                                                                                     Artifacts of t...
Metaphor in Products


                                                                                     Without bounda...
Metaphor in Products


                                                                                     Moving through...
Metaphor in Products


                                                                                     Metaphors can
...
Metaphor in Products


                                                                          Introducing New
         ...
Criticism




Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
Criticism of Metaphor in Design


                                              “Searching for a guiding
                 ...
Criticism of Metaphor in Design


                                                                                     Met...
Criticism of Metaphor in Design


                                                                                     But...
We can’t help it.

                                                                                     Let users find the...
Design is about
                                                                                     invention. Invention
...
Using Metaphor
                                                                                     Appropriately




Dan ...
Using Metaphor Appropriately


           Use metaphor to find the hidden
           characteristics of the content.

    ...
Using Metaphor Appropriately




          A Tool to Change Behavior
Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Des...
Using Metaphor Appropriately


           Metaphors We Live By
           by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

           Me...
Thanks.

           Questions?




Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
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Presented at the 2005 IA Summit. No notes in this, unfortunately, but many of the slides are fairly clear.

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The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design

  1. 1. The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design Dan Saffer Information Architecture Summit March 6, 2005
  2. 2. A metaphor is “a device for seeing something in terms of something else. It brings out the thisness of that or the thatness of a this.” —Kenneth Burke, 1945 Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  3. 3. The Four Master Tropes METONOMY: embodiment of the ethereal SYNECDOCHE: the part for the whole IRONY: two levels of meaning METAPHOR: perspective “To consider A from the point of view of B is, of course, to use B as a perspective upon A.” —Burke Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  4. 4. But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun! —Romeo and Juliet, II.i Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  5. 5. “Our conceptual system is fundamentally metaphoric in nature.” —George Lakoff and Mark Johnson Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  6. 6. He spends his time wisely. Summer is just around the corner. There’s a hole in that theory. She’s an old flame. The class tried to keep up with the schedule. She profited from the experience. He has a screw loose. My thoughts are scattered. She went back to sleep. He cherishes that belief. He exploded. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His hair went gray. She has a great sense of humor. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  7. 7. SOURCE META PHOR TARGET Metaphor is not just about language; it’s really about thought. We conceive of things in terms of other things. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  8. 8. Affection is Warmth My love for her still smolders. They gave me a warm welcome. He’s a warm person. It took a while to warm up to the topic. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  9. 9. is Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  10. 10. TIME SPACE STATES ACTIONS CAUSATION Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  11. 11. TIME SPACE STATES ACTIONS CAUSATION Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  12. 12. Interaction Design Facilitating or instigating interactions between humans (or their agents) mediated by products Can also signify interactions between humans and products Interactions: mainly communication, either one-on-one , one-to-many, or many-to-many. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  13. 13. In the Design Process Within Products Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  14. 14. Metaphor in the Design Process The problem is that problems are not fixed. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  15. 15. Metaphor in the Design Process “Things are selected for attention and named in such a way as to fit the frame constructed for the situation.” —Donald Schöen, 1979 Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  16. 16. Metaphor in the Design Process Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  17. 17. Metaphor in the Design Process Tea is Chemistry Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  18. 18. Metaphor in the Design Process New ideas are almost always the product of juxtaposition. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  19. 19. Metaphor in the Design Process An important part of the design process is selling ideas to those who will implement and fund them. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  20. 20. Metaphor in the Design Process Everything one Everything one says about God says about the computer is a metaphor. is a metaphor. —Paul Tillich —me Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  21. 21. Metaphor in the Design Process No one addresses their computer without some metaphoric mediation. Metaphor provides us with the means to understand our complex digital devices. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  22. 22. Metaphor in the Design Process The Design Process is a Story Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  23. 23. Metaphor in Products “Friction in Scheduling and Coordinating Lives in Families:” Friction is a Connector Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  24. 24. Metaphor in Products Ryukyu ALIVE: Information Space is a Galaxy Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  25. 25. Metaphor in Products Artifacts of the Presence Era: Data is Geology Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  26. 26. Metaphor in Products Without boundaries, things are difficult to comprehend and reason about. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  27. 27. Metaphor in Products Moving through Space and Time Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  28. 28. Metaphor in Products Metaphors can endow machines and inanimate objects with human- like characteristics, making them more approachable and usable. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  29. 29. Metaphor in Products Introducing New Concepts to Users Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  30. 30. Criticism Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  31. 31. Criticism of Metaphor in Design “Searching for a guiding metaphor is like searching for the correct steam engine to power your airplane.” —Alan Cooper Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  32. 32. Criticism of Metaphor in Design Metaphors are misleading. Metaphors do not scale well. Microsoft’s BOB Metaphors degrade over time. Metaphors are overused. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  33. 33. Criticism of Metaphor in Design But... You don’t throw away a tool because it is dangerous. You just use it more carefully. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  34. 34. We can’t help it. Let users find their own metaphors? Limited ways to change perspective. Too powerful to ignore. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  35. 35. Design is about invention. Invention is the product of juxtaposition. Metaphor is about juxtaposition. Therefore, it stands to reason that design is about metaphor. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  36. 36. Using Metaphor Appropriately Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  37. 37. Using Metaphor Appropriately Use metaphor to find the hidden characteristics of the content. Fit the metaphor to the content, not the other way around. Be aware of the cultural and contextual properties of metaphor. Choose metaphors that scale appropriately. Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  38. 38. Using Metaphor Appropriately A Tool to Change Behavior Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  39. 39. Using Metaphor Appropriately Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson Metaphor and Thought edited by Andrew Ortony “Working with Interface Metaphors” by Thomas D. Erickson in The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation
  40. 40. Thanks. Questions? Dan Saffer :: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design :: IA Summit Presentation

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