Psychology of Everyday Things

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Overview

Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure our which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this fascinating, ingenious—even liberating—book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology.The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The book presents examples aplenty—among them, the VCR, computer, and office telephone, all models of how not to design for people.But good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time. But the designer must care.The author is a world-famous psychologist and pioneer in the application of cognitive science. His aim is to raise the consciousness of both consumers and designers to the delights of products that are easy to use and understand.

A cognitive scientist provides an amusing, informative, and consciousness-raising book for consumers and designers on understanding why some everyday objects are frustrating to use.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Anybody who has ever complained that ``they don't make things like they used to'' will immediately connect with this book. Norman's thesis is that when designers fail to understand the processes by which devices work, they create unworkable technology. Director of the Institute for Cognitive Sciences at University of California, San Diego, the author examines the psychological processes needed in operating and comprehending devices. Examples include doors you don't know whether to push or pull and VCRs you can't figure out how to program. Written in a readable, anecdotal, sometimes breezy style, the book's scholarly sophistication is almost transparent. Gregg Sapp, Idaho State Univ. Lib., Pocatello
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465067091
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/1988
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,353,684
  • Lexile: 1050L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald A. Norman is Professor of Computer Science at Northwestern University, a former “Apple Fellow,” and a partner in the Nielsen Norman Group Consulting Firm, which consults with corporations on design. He is the author of a number of books on design, including Emotional Design and the best-selling The Design of Everyday Things. He lives in Northbrook, Illinois and Palo Alto, California.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2008

    Industrial design in a nutshell

    Dome-headed engineering professors call it ¿human factors engineering,¿ ¿interaction design¿ or ¿usability engineering,¿ but the purpose of this strangely-named discipline is far simpler than these appellations suggest: to make everyday items do what users expect them to do. Donald Norman has been thinking about usability issues longer than almost anyone and has insights commensurate with his experience. Norman knows how both people and machines work (he has degrees in psychology and engineering). More importantly, he knows how to bridge the gulf between the human mind and the devices the mind wants to use, from toasters to telephones to teapots. In this classic, he provides a few simple precepts and many wonderful examples showing how to design the most important component of any technology ¿ the user¿s experience. While some of Norman¿s examples are a little long in the tooth (he discusses VCRs, not DVDs), we find that the principles he describes in this friendly book are still sprightly almost 20 years after their initial publication.

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