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The Design of Everyday Things [Paperback]

Donald Norman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.95
Price: 10.52 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

9 Sep 1998
Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault lies in product design that ignore the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. A bestseller in the United States, this bible on the cognitive aspects of design contains examples of both good and bad design and simple rules that designers can use to improve the usability of objects as diverse as cars, computers, doors, and telephones.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; Reprint edition (9 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262640376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262640374
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Norman... makes a strong case for the needlessness of badlyconceived and badly designed everyday objects... [T]his book mayherald the beginning of a change in user habits and expectations, achange that manufacturers would be obliged to respond to. Buttonpushers of the world, unite." Los Angeles Times --Los Angeles Times

From the Publisher

This is the only updated edition, and the only one to include Don Norman's brand new introduction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"You would need an engineering degree from MIT to work this," someone once told me, shaking his head in puzzlement over his brand new digital watch. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Design made easy. 3 May 1999
By A Customer
You read this book and then you think aha! - thats why I have trouble with my door/kettle/car. Norman manages to inform the reader with interesting examples, backed up by years of research.
One of the easiest ways to sell good design and usability is by showing people what happens if you don't invest enough time and resources. This book provides ample ammunition to any designers who are confronted with clients who require educating, as well as a design solution.
Why not 5 stars? - well, the book could be longer.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but dated 19 April 2006
By Haeg
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's an exceptional book, so why have I given it only 4 stars?

Certainly not the books fault, but this book does tend to get recommended to students as the definitive book for software interface design.

The book is quite dated, being just a renamed reprint of 1989 book "The Psychology of Everyday Things", identical content, except with a new foreword.

The insight into the flawed design of everyday objects is amazing, but could have been so much better if instead of just updating the foreword new chapters were added dealing with modern issues (computers, satellite tv, mobile phones, etc).

Reading this book will still make high tech designers better, but don't expect it to be as relevant to you as it was to your lecturer who read it 17 years ago.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
An enlightening and often entertaining critique on the inadaquacies of designed objects and systems based on the seminal "The Psychology of Everyday Things" (1988). Norman is scathing of design which is not user centred unleasing exceptional scorn on the designers of door handles and light switches. Even these simple systems are poorly designed, he argues, so how are users expected to operate infinitely more complex systems?
Norman exposes some simple guidelines for ensuring usable design which make one wonder why they appear to be so frequently ignored in comtemporary design.
This book is not only a must for design students, it is essential for even senior designers and managers involved with design.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
This was recommended reading in my undergrad psychology course, and it has changed my life. After reading this book I decided to continue research into usability. I am now at the end of my doctorate in Human Computer Interaction and loving it...
most of my undergraduate colleagues who decided on a different career path, still rate this book as one of their favorites!... you will never look at the world in the same way after you have read this book... it is truly inspiring...
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about your brain, not your taps 11 April 2002
This book has very little if anything to do with software design, or even door handle to tap design. These examples are given purely to demonstrate what the book is really about, which the Design of the human brain. Although he talks a lot about the physical objects around us, he continually refers back to why the objects are the way they are and how the human brain makes decisions about how it will interact will them. He is trying to explain that the design of objects does not exist in isolation. An object is not in itself functional. It becomes functional when it begins to interact with its surroundings, and that interaction is frequently with humans. As well as interacting physically with objects, human must interact psychologically with them, although this psychological is frequently (and often should be) sub conscious. Understanding the nature of these subconscious psychological interaction with our surrounding's is what this book is about, and it's very interesting, often amusing, and despite the dodgy 1970's photos, it will be timeless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable & thought-provoking 27 Nov 1999
By A Customer
I find the book very readable and entertaining. Nice real-life examples explained in normal terms and the author's strong philosophy all keep the reader comfortable and engaged. Surely worth reading for everybody.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finding Problems with Everyday Things 22 Dec 2003
This book was a required textbook for design module in my BSc course. It's a very interesting read, and you'll enjoy Mr Norman's examples and explanations of why some things work well and others don't. He explains many design principles such as 'mapping' and 'feedback', and their importance is made made apparent though his many examples and case studies. In general the content of the book is very relevant.
The tone of the book, unfortunately, is very negative. Admittedly, it is easier to find problems than impart praise. It is nevertheless better to teach via good examples. Mr Norman seems to get great pleasure from pointing out when some appliance doesn't meet one of his principles. Perhaps he's still bitter about a bad childhood experience with a badly designed toaster...
Although the content is revelant, it is not well organised. There should at least be a distinct section of the book dedicated to each principle. Instead, the author introduces some principles in point form, and others elsewhere in the text. This makes studying especially difficult, as you spend much of your time making sure you've found all the revelant principles.
For a book on design, I am dissapointed to see that it is more difficult to use than it should be. Mr Norman, as per your request on the last line of the book, here's a weed 0>-,'--
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 1 day ago by Irene Whelan
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody in design, engineering or development should miss this book!
I highly recommend reading this to avoid daft and lasting mistakes - the book has a damning phrase "he probably won an award for that". Read more
Published 2 months ago by Daniel J. Staple
5.0 out of 5 stars Changes how you see things
'The Design of Everyday Things' is a must have book, that changes how you percept the world around you.

It's easy enough to read and very rewarding.
Published 3 months ago by Luis
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you reconsider
One of those fantastic books that makes you re-consider everything around you: Why do things look the way they do - and most importantly - why are some things easier to use than... Read more
Published 3 months ago by
4.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for IT degree
Being a specified text book for degree course I expected it to be heavy going but quite the contrary! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Farfield
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book to help people understand good design and usability
I really like this book, even though it is a bit outdated.

I love the mindset and the thinking of Don Norman and I feel like he could have written a new book with... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Nadya E. Joensen
5.0 out of 5 stars great book full of ideas well explained
might be dated examples but I'm old enough to appreciate how bad 1990's technology was and how many steps to improve things didn't help the users
Published 11 months ago by Stephen Mallett
5.0 out of 5 stars good
Great and really useful book. Easy to read, real life examples. Makes you think.
Funny thing is after reading you start to see objects in your life from different prespective
Published 12 months ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't call him the Don for nothing..
Superb book, very detailed. You'll never look at objects the same way again. After reading it I find literally everyday, people making errors and mistakes which are bought up in... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Awaes Ishfaq
5.0 out of 5 stars User Interface applied to non-computer design
This is a real enlightenment, helping to understand many issues of modern life like door-handles, coffee flasks, soap dispensers - all kinds of "clever" designs which can... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Rod Dalitz
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