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The Design of Everyday Things Paperback – 31 Dec 1990


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Paperback, 31 Dec 1990
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; 1st Doubleday edition (31 Dec 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385267746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385267748
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 13.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 561,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
"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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 May 1999
Format: Paperback
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Jan 1999
Format: Paperback
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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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Haeg on 19 April 2006
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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Indie Game Developer on 19 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
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 By Tom du Pré on 11 April 2002
Format: Paperback
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Keith Appleyard VINE VOICE on 18 Oct 2003
Format: Paperback
We all go through life frustrated by stupid design of everyday things. This book reassures you that you're not cracking up, and that there are others out there who feel the same way.
However, the book is now 15 years old, so many of the examples quoted seem very quaint, and the photographs seem even older - like scenes from the earliest 'James Bond' movies.
There needs to be a more upto date view of good/bad design - design principles are not immortal - what was good yesterday might not be any good for tomorrow - eg what was good in a black & white world might be irrelevant in a colour world.
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Format: Paperback
Norman provides very insightful views on why many everyday things are so infuriating to use. His examples range from inscrutable button-filled remote controls to shower faucets where you can't tell hot from cold, and he gives a simple yet effective set of guidelines on how to make things usable. He does all this with simple jargon-free language, only occasionally dipping into cognitive psychology, making the book easy to read for people who are more interested in design principles than psychology.

That said, the book is a bit dated, with references to the Mac Lisa, the NES, the Bell telephone and buildings and furniture designed in the 70's. It sorely needs an update, to show how the situation has improved: idiot-proof and color-coded connectors are standard in almost all electronics nowadays, auto-volt adaptors means we don't have to worry about burning electronics, plug-and-play and software wizards makes DIP switches and hacking at configuration files a thing of the past (unless you are a masochist or use Linux); and how they stay the same: different proprietary power connectors for cellphones (sometimes from different models of the same manufacturer, even with the same voltage!), ditto for memory cards, mobile phone and mp3 player user interfaces that seem to want to reinvent everything from scratch (and get it wrong) with every model released, the one button interface that behaves differently on how long you press it and scratch-filled screens (it's as if the designers never thought we'd put their _pocket-sized_ devices in our actual pockets!).

That said, it's still a necessary read for anyone designing an application UI or a webpage, or just about anyone else who has screamed at the designer of a shower faucet that you just can't turn when your hands are soapy.
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