Well designed system as a Black Box

Now let us try defining a system from a User's Perspective:

"Any well designed technical system from a user's perspective is a Black Box which offers a set of features/ functionalities/ behaviors to the users of the outside world."

Features/Functionalities/Behaviors are all synonyms and are used interchangeably by different people.

What do you understand when I say that a well designed system is a "Black Box" to the end user?

System as a black box

When I say that any well designed system should be a Black Box to the user it means that the system should be designed in such a way that the user should never be able to see or know about the internal structural details of the system.

A user should never know as to what is there within a system or how the different behaviors are delivered by the system. The only thing a user should see or know about is the features/ functionalities/behaviors of the system apart from other non-functional features of the system.

This is the first design principle that we are discussing in this book.

Think about all the gadgets that you use. Do you ever see as to what is there inside or within that system?

The only thing that you can see or you are aware of is the different behaviors that are offered by the system and the interfaces of that system so as to invoke those behaviors.

Think about a mobile phone, or a car, a wrist watch or a laptop. These are the systems that you use daily. I believe majority of the readers of this book are engineers. But do you know as to what is there inside these systems or can you describe the internal details of these systems?

No. All the systems today are very well designed and hence you cannot see as to what is there inside them. The only thing that you are aware of is its features.

Now the most important and a very logical question is that "why should be a system designed to be a Black Box to its end user?"

There are many reasons for a system to be a Black Box to the end user.

One of the very important reasons for the system to be a Black Box to its end users is to increase the "Usability" and decrease the "Complexity" of the system.

There are many other reasons but I will discuss them at the appropriate time while discussing the relevant concepts.

Hemant Jha
Founder - VPlanSolutions
Researcher, Trainer