Back to 1946 when the first computer came to the world, it’s hard to imagine how people understand in what way the computer was working and how they can control it. Only a few of people that knew how to interact with the computer by typing in code, but there is no effective visual feedback at that time. Until 1973, the first GUI (Graphical User Interface) Xerox Alto released, the design around an “office” metaphor (also a first) was built as a research computer and therefore wasn’t available for commercial release.  The visual graphic language started to use the image of real world stuff to translate the meaning and function showed up in digital screen. Decades have been passed, now the user interface design still follow the basic principle, which is bring things that users are familiar with to help them understand digital environment. And now, people are quite experienced to interact with different interfaces, and even don’t reflect on their interacting behavior about what their actions mean in a digital environment.
Reflective design covers a number of fields. It is all about message, about culture, and also about the meaning and function of digital environment or its use. This research paper is dedicate to analysis and mediate the role of reflective behavior and reflective design play in User Interface strategy, which includes the discussion of how human reflection influence their cognition towards metaphor visual language in digital environment, and how to apply reflection to User Interface design.
Reflect and Understand Meanings in Digital Environment
Reflective as Emotion
We have powerful brain mechanisms for accomplishing things, for both creating and acting. We have skilled musicians, artists, athletes, writers, and carpenters. All this characters requires a much more complex brain structure than is involved in automatic responses to the physical world. Reflective level of processing sits in a bigger emotion system, which also contains visceral level and behavioral level. The three different levels of processing structures in human brain are considered to result emotions in the studies by Don Norman that mentioned in his book Emotional Design.  Thus how people reflect with design, especially a user interface in digital environment? Are what users seeing exactly how the functions working? Do users really understand the consequences of their choices of option? Most of time, the answer is not. Because not often time user could understand where their present actions sit in the whole sequence of a system, neither the potential meaning of the consequence.
Reflective upon Visual Language
In the early age back to 1980s, artists are the group of people who designed most of icons in user interface. Susan Kare's (an artist and graphic designer who created many of the interface elements for the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s) philosophy on icon design is simple, "I believe that good icons are more akin to road signs rather than illustrations, and ideally should present an idea in a clear, concise, and memorable way. I try to optimize for clarity and simplicity even as palette and resolution options have increased." This philosophy is at the core of Apple's early commercial success. People reflecting while they first seeing the icons that they are not familiar with, reflective emotion make them to build connections to those things they familiar with in their past experience. People may speculate a lens icon may represent picture taking or editing application only because they know what lens functioning in physical world.
User do need an understandable digital environment to let them interact with, and Skeuomorphic design, an effective way to help user to get the sense of what the things show up on the screen means plays an crucial role in the history of interface design. For instance, a folder icon meaning it contains files, and a trashcan means things that be deleted locate there. It is not exactly a folder or trashcan, but in digital environment their figures are mediate similar functions that works a more abstract way (Figure 1). Users actually are not reflecting how computer works by seeing those icons; instead they just interact with the screen under behavioral level because they understand the metaphor of images. Visual strategies could help to let user to reflect during their interaction. If the design of trashcan, for example, could indicate the status of how many days it hasn’t been cleaned (Figure 2), users will have direct visual feedback to direct them reflecting on what they have deleted and go check what they have deleted. Thus, the behavioral level is not conscious, which is why you can successfully drive your automobile subconsciously at the behavioral level while consciously thinking of something else at the reflective level. In traditional user interface, which are featuring game-like reactions for quick decision-making, users do not have a chance to slow down the speed of interaction and reflect on their behavior and experience.
User makes assumptions about the functions and digital visual language they encounter. Browsing a website, opening a new downloaded application, interacting on social media. They generalize their experiences; future interactions are expected to be similar, and other functions or operating system of the same genre are expected to operate in familiar ways. Cognition build through time, and users are getting used to the “principle” of digital interface environment. Icons, symbols and even specific structure or location of elements could be hints to help user to understand what are these things mean and works. The coming issue is why people need reflective behavior of user interface? As the use of a certain kind of Digital Interface changes, there is often a need to reconsider the meaning and function behind its design.
How Reflective Design Could Help Improve A Better User Experience?
Why User Need Reflecting in Digital Environment
The design methodologies of traditional interface, such as User Centered Design are oriented towards efficient satisfaction of short-term interface goals,  but many not serve the best interests of the users in the long term. Sometimes, people do need a delay or confirm of their interaction under unconscious behavioral level. For instance, when people have to leave their computer and close their files that were working on, it’s necessary to remind them they haven’t save the file yet (Figure 3). Consider other circumstances like posting a comment, login an account, check out shopping cart and submit a form. Do users really want to post the comment right now? Do they remember to sign out when they want to leave the page? Do they really have the sense of how many things they added to the shopping cart? And are they sending the right file? All those issues could be omitted during a quick decision-making under an unconscious condition.
Users Who Need Reflecting on User Interface
As reflection applied to the design of User Interface, users will experience a “slow” or “delay” of digital environment decision-making process. For those users who experiencing stressful situation in social context, users who are new in a digital environment, and users that are facing important choices to make (such as personal bank account information, private message sharing, and school or work files to sign online etc.), a reflection of their actions and consequences is necessary right in time. In a culture sense, self-image building is another situation when people reflecting of their behavior. For instance, before you want to upload a picture with personal content, how would you suppose others would think about your picture? Most of time, people consider more about how to make others think the same way they would like the viewer to think. It is all about the relation between view and being viewed. Based on the needs of user’s potential desire of reflection as well benefits from reflecting, how to apply reflection to User Interface design seems reasonable to be considered in design practice.
Reflective Design Strategies
There are many aspects should be concerned in reflective design of User Interface, which including digital environment visual language, notification, action delays, displaying hidden consequences, and the visualization of aggregated data. All these methods in general could lead reflective behavior while interacting with digital interface. For instance, digital environment visual language, which users could get the meaning from different figures instantly. Usually the functional metaphor from another system that people may familiar with in their daily life will indicate a relative more abstract structure or system in digital environment. As we have mentioned (see the Figure 2.), the change of trashcan mediate different meanings to the user to lead a reflective behavior of considering the time of deleted files. Another one like visualization of aggregated data in social context; for example, a delay of post in 50 seconds later may be added to comment post function. Thus the inserted step between comment and post will lead reflective behavior in social context. Both of these methods do evoke user reflecting towards their behavior when interacting with different interface.
We define a Reflective Interface as a type of Intelligent User Interface, which applies Artificial Intelligence and knowledge-based techniques to the issues of human-computer interaction.  Apparently, reflecting in User Interfaces can encourage user to think about why they made the choice and what consequences will have after specific choice has been made. The core issue of how to apply reflection to design could borrow the framework from principles supported by Donald Schön on Reflective Design (Schön, 1983). Goel (2010) best summarizes Schön’s ideas,
Schön stated three notions of the reflective practitioner, “reflection in action,” “reflection on action,” and “ladders of reflections.” One would reflect on behavior as it happens, so as to optimize the immediately following action. One reflects after the event, to review, analyze, and evaluate the future. And one’s action, and reflection on action makes a ladder. Every action is followed by reflection and every reflection is followed by action in a recursive manner. In this ladder, the products of reflections also become the objects for future reflection. 
In the research study that organized by Hallnäs and Redström (2001), they offered helpful insights in how to apply reflection to design. A simple example mentioned in their study is imagining an electronic doorbell that plays short fragments of a very long melody each time you press it. To fully grasp the doorbell through its behavior, we have to stop and reflect for a moment each time it rings and only over time can we grasp the whole melody. It is technology that claims time. Is this ‘‘slow’’ doorbell a better doorbell than the ordinary one playing the same two or three tones over and over again? The difference in aesthetics between the two doorbells is a difference in philosophy of design; the ‘‘slow’’ doorbell is not designed to be ‘‘just’’ an efficient signaling mechanism for non-reflective use, but rather an artifact that through its expression and slow appearance puts reflective ‘‘use’’ in focus.  In digital environment, similar “slow” design strategies could be addressed at some parts of interface that user need reflecting about their interaction behavior.
Either designers of the User Interface have to reflect on their design strategies and principles. Why user need reflection at specific moment, where those moments sit in the system and how to communicate the choice user made influence the following steps in a system? What are other choices available there for the user when they are facing decision-making issues? The answers could form a well-build interface, through which the end-user will be encouraged (not forced) to think about the meaning of a given situation, and offered an opportunity to consider their options for reacting to it in a positive way.
User’s emotion in reflective level does influence decision-making process in Digital User Interface environment. On the other hand, the reflective behavior could also stimulating design strategy improvement of User Interface, which could evoke user’s further reflective behavior in a conscious way. User need reflecting on User Interface, because they have to understand what their interaction means, and what the consequences following their decision as well as what it means to other users. Under these circumstances, the design of User Interface in forming a reflective behavior will help user better understand both the context of digital environment as well as their behavior.
 Norman, Donald A. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, c2004.
 Birago Jones. (2012). Reflective Interfaces: Assisting Teens with Stressful Situations Online. 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
 Lieberman, H., Liu, H., Singh, P. & Barry, B. (2004). Beating Common Sense into Interactive Applications. AI Magazines, 25(4), 63-76.
 Goel, Sanjay. (2010). Learning & Computing Education: Reflections and Ideation. Design is a Reflective Practice: A Summary of Schön’s Views. Retrieved from http://goelsan.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/design-is-a-reflective-practice-a-summary-of-schons-views/
 Hallnäs, L. & Redström, J. (2001). Slow Technology; Designing for Reflection. In: Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol.5, No.3, pp.201 212. Springer.