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Paperback The Design of Everyday Things Book

ISBN: 0465067107

ISBN13: 9780465067107

The Design of Everyday Things

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Book Overview

First, businesses discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came service. Now, Donald A. Norman, former Director of the Institute for Cognitive Science at the University of California, reveals how smart design is the new competitive frontier. The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how--and why--some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Design for everyday Human Behavior

This is one of the seminal works in the field of User Centered Design. Norman wrote this book well before the Windows operating system was as familiar as the Golden Arches--which only reinforces the idea that certain basic usability principles transcend all forms of objects--from glass doors to Windows Explorer. Norman does a great job of describing why and how we successfully and unsuccessfully use everyday objects with relevant anecdotes. His stories are usually accompanied with lists of principles that explain good design and account for human behavior. For example, the fundamental principals of designing for people are to: Provide a good conceptual model, make controls visible and to constantly provide feedback to the user. So how does one employ good user-centered design? Norman recapitulates his points at the end of the book by listing the seven UCD principles for transforming difficult tasks into easy ones:1. Use both knowledge in the world and in the head 2. Simplify the structure of tasks3. Make things visible4. Get the mappings right5. Exploit the powers of constraints-Natural & Artificial6. Design for Error7. When all else fails, standardizeIt's mandatory reading for any usability software engineer but also an interesting and well written book for anyone who's ever pushed a "pull door" or scalded themselves in the shower (which is all of us).

Excellent, a seminal work of design psychology

Although this book is a product of the 1980's, its essential premise is not dated nor obsolete. Dr. Norman vividly illustrates the good and bad of design, and provides an excellent guidebook for the understanding of basic user-centric design in products, fixtures, software, and the everyday things that make up our world.I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the design and creation of software, architecture, or consumer products. You will find some dated, quaint information within its pages, such as the descriptions of the "computer notepad" and hypertext (both of which came to fruition with Palm Computers and the Web), but, as a whole, the book is a collection of relevant, interesting material. It is an excellent starting point for the study of design.For those interested in additional study on software and user interface design (programmers, such as I), I recommend Alan Cooper's books on user interface design, and ANY of Jakob Nielsen's books. In addition, the Edward Tufte trilogy on visual representations is extremely good, although not software-specific.

The difference between designers and users

Let me start by acknowledging that the book is not perfect. The end notes are annoying and Norman can have a tendancy to ramble and I guess that not everyone would find that charming. However, I assert that the strengths of the book more than make up for its weaknesses-- it is an important book, and one that anyone engaged in designing things for other people should read.The central point is simple-- the needs of the user are different from the needs of the designer. The designer might want everyone's actions with his system to be precise, the user might need to have a "good enough" range of precision approximation. The designer wants to make the knobs the same so they look good together, the user wants to be able to tell quickly which knob applies to which function. It's a basic concept that can't (particularly on the Internet today) be repeated often enough.Norman looks at the kinds of errors people make in usage and discusses how designers can plan to prevent these kind of errors. He discusses some of the basic things that users find valuable and walks the reader through some classic (and often funny, because so recognizable) design errors.The writing is clean and (with the exception of the aforementioned rambling) very clear. Norman's voice is full of humor and a real passion for the subject, and that voice is conveyed very well by the book.

Universal Examples of Good (and Bad) Design

When I started my first job out of college I was given a copy of this book by my boss. Since then, I've had a chance to do GUI design for the web as well as client/server applications. This book has proven invaluable. It completely changed the way I thought about design and usability. The examples given show how everything can (and should) be made more usable... every time I turn on the wrong burner on my stove, or pull on a door I should be pushing I curse the designer who should have read this. The examples may not be specifically about computer user interface design, but the lessons learned are directly applicable.

A classic.

Same book as the paperback "The Design of Everyday Things". Just as good a book under either title. (You'll find more reviews of it under the other title.)
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