Design of Everyday Things / Edition 1by Don Norman
Pub. Date: 08/29/2002
Publisher: Basic Books
First business discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came service. Now, Donald A. Norman 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. See more details below
First business discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came service. Now, Donald A. Norman 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.
- Basic Books
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
Table of Contents
|Preface to the Paperback Edition||v|
|1||The Psychopathology of Everyday Things||1|
|2||The Psychology of Everyday Actions||34|
|3||Knowledge in the Head and in the World||54|
|4||Knowing What to Do||81|
|5||To Err Is Human||105|
|6||The Design Challenge||141|
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I have given a copy to each engineer, designer and tech writer in my group, and I give a copy to each new employee we bring in. Essential reading for anyone designing anything that other folks have to use, covering basic ergonomics, mistake proofing (these days called "Poka Yoke"), and just general common sense design. Thoughtful and considerate design is essential to honoring engineering codes of ethics, personal integrity as an engineer, and as a Christian, I consider these aspects of design part of our mandate to love our neighbor and to honor God in our work.
This book is interesting, but has some flaws that I find really make it not worth the money. For starters, I bought the Nook book version and there are problems related to that: * The formatting is pretty terrible. Depending on the settings you use, the figures and illustrations for a lot of the examples end up in weird places and on pages well after they are explained or referred to. * Half the text is italics for seemingly no reason. It's most often used for the anecdotes or examples, but many times just starts mid-sentence. It gets a little annoying. As for the book content itself, while I did find it interesting and somewhat informative, there are just some things I take issue with. First, The writing is not great. Norman tends to ramble a lot and repeat himself frequently. The book to me reads more stream of conscious than any real effort at a presentation of ideas. Second and most importantly, the title is misleading. I bought the book thinking it would be more focused on design principles and the engineering of "everyday things". When in reality the book is more focused on the psychology of why something is good or bad design. And evidently, the 2002 forward reveals that the title used to be the "Psychology of Everyday Things". Which I think is much more accurate as this book focuses rather exclusively on psychology and offers very little real application examples or even very many solutions to the problems posed. (He said he changed the title because it used to be put in the psychology sections of book stores... gee, you think?) Many of the chapters focus solely on high-level psychology of things like memory or behavior patterns. A lot of it was pretty obvious and self explanatory. Coupled with the fact that Norman repeats himself and seems to constantly go off on tangents only to come back around with something like "remember that thing I was talking about before..." leads for a very dull read. Overall the information within is pretty good which is why I give 2 stars instead of 1. But the lack of writing skill on top of just not being what I expected based on the description and preface is why I do not recommend it.
Keep it simple, stupid. Don Norman shows us the dark side of "innovation," a flashing, screaming wasteland of bright, shiny bells and whistles. Much as Charles Panati describes blender manufacturers' mindless button frenzy and iron manufacturers' hilarious attempt to cluster zillions of holes into household irons (soaking shirts in the name of progress) in his "Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things," Norman pokes fun at the false idolatry to which the design world so frequently falls prey, championing beauty over power. But Norman quickly goes a step further, challenging frivolous designers to make functional products for real people. Norman does a fantastic job of practicing what he preaches. The entire book is ostensibly about doors, phones and light switches, but has vast implications for even the most complex systems. Norman creates a simple metaphor for user interface design by focusing on familiar objects and offering many pertinent anecdotes. Norman's argument to design for the lowest common denominator may threaten our wild, inner dreamer. But, as a cognitive psychologist whose field studies include airline disasters and the Three Mile Island nuclear crisis, Norman is hedging his bet. To err is human, so we must prepare for the worst. That is not to say he disapproves of elegant design; to the contrary, Norman believes that form can actually benefit from good function. The fact is that if it doesn't work, odds are you won't be looking at it all that much longer. Or, you'll be paying for it in Tylenol. Consumers have almost as much to gain from Norman's insights as do designers; only the most extremely conscientious shopper, or perhaps the most masochistic, could afford not to question his or her strategies and impulses on the showroom floor. I hope that you enjoy this well written, insightful, and occasionally visionary book as much as I did.
I wish to start by acknowledging that Donald Norman did a good job identifying flaws in other designs but interestingly failed to recognise the imperfection in his own style of presentation of texts and images in the book, which at some point made this rather classic design book difficult to read. This led me into asking if there ever is a perfect design within our human environment. However, I found an enormous amount of knowledge about the psychology needed in designing products, as a young software developer. It is a great book, and anyone involved in designing any form of product for human use should read it. After reading this book, it became clear how designers often designed products with the intention of having all users¿ actions with their system as precise as possible. Norman looks at the kinds of errors people make in using gadgets and discusses how designers can plan to eliminate these errors. In as much as a huge part of the book is outdated, it made me wonder why some of those very undesirable designs are still been seen around today. Perhaps Norman succeeded in making me paranoid about designs around me, but in a similar way, I hope that it reflects in the way I design my software applications. A few times in the book, Norman invited thoughts from the supposed `poor¿ designers cited in the book about the reason and logic behind their various designs. I suggest it would have been of much value if that was done for all the examples cited. That I believe would have created a fair representation of ideas from both Norman and the designers. Finally, my conclusion after reading Norman¿s book is that, a design is not perfect until a user¿s actions on that product match the designer¿s intended actions.