Feedback cycles

The gulf of execution… I know.. this sounds sinister and like something that the Bush administration would have come up with in the early 00’s.

Alas, this is actually the term given to “the distance between a user’s goals, and the action required to realise those goals”

Image courtesy of Elizeu Dias via Unsplash

Imagine you go to the travel agents and you see a picture in the window of a beach in the tropics šŸ– šŸ you think in a few simple steps I’ll be on that beach… (1) pay for a holiday (2) wait a bit (3) fly (4) check in hotel (5) beach (6) cocktail..

When it could actually be … (1) pay for a holiday (2) wait a bit (3) renew passport (4) wait for the passport (5) Get jabs from a doctor (6) get delayed (7) fly (8) get a taxi from the airport to hotel (9) realise you have left a bag in taxi 9) call American express who help you cancel your card (10) call police (11) ask to use a computer at the hotel (12) check in to the hotel (13) stay up all night worrying about bag (14) beach (15) cocktail!

Image courtesy of Calle Macarone via Unsplash

So now you see the difference between the user’s goals here and the actual actions, required!

Following this is the “gulf of evaluation” which is the distance between the effects of those actions, and the user’s understanding of those results.

So when you are on the beach on your holiday and you look back at the steps it took you to get from the travel agents to your hammock, that is the gulf of evaluation.

Lived experience of the actual steps it took to get you to your destination.

This week we were taught about Don Norman’sĀ Design of Everyday Things, where he provides a different way of looking at the same information.

The bridge of execution – graphic courtesy of Vecteezy
The bridge of evaluation – graphic courtesy of Vecteezy

Once you assess both the gulf of execution vs the gulf of evaluation, you actually see the methods for each stage, terming the two stages “the bridge of execution” requiring three actions Plan, Specify & Perform theses are preparatory actions and then “the bridge of evaluation” requiring designers to Perceive, Interpret & Compare.