Gulf of Evaluation


  • Motivation:  Does the system provide a physical representation that users can directly perceive and interpret?
  • Definition:  Whether the goal of the user has been achieved as a result of their interaction with the system.  According to Don Norman’s book The Design of Everyday Things, The Gulf of Evaluation reflects the amount of effort that the person must exert to interpret the physical state of the system and to determine how well the expectations and intentions have been met” (58).  Normal argues that this gulf is small when the system provides information about its state in an accessible and easily interpretable manner, which corresponds to the way in which users perceive the system.
  • Result:  Users cannot easily and efficiently accomplish their intended tasks, and they may become frustrated and blame themselves.
  • Example:  There is also a problem with the Gulf of Evaluation in our refrigerator example [1].  Even when the refrigerator was correctly set to its lowest temperature, users would have difficulty interpreting whether the setting was correct.
[1] Professor Gajos, COMPSCI 179 Lecture (02/08/2018)

Contributed by Michelle Vaccaro and Auriel Wright

About the author: Michelle Vaccaro

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