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The Design of Everyday Things [Paperback]

Donald A. Norman

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Book Description

14 Nov 2013
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, argues this 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 Design of Everyday Things shows that 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. In this entertaining and insightful analysis, cognitive scientist Donald A. Norman hails excellence of design as the most important key to regaining the competitive edge in influencing consumer behavior. Now fully expanded and updated, with a new introduction by the author, The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how-and why-some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

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"Choice""Even classics can be updated and improved... Highly recommended.""This book changed the field of design. As the pace of technological change accelerates, the principles in this book are increasingly important. The new examples and ideas about design and product development make it essential reading."--Patrick Whitney, Dean, Institute of Design, and Steelcase/Robert C. Pew Professor of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology"Twenty-five years ago "The Design of Everyday Things" was instrumental in orienting my approach to design. With this latest revised and expanded edition, Don Norman has given me a host of new ideas to explore as well as reminding me of the fundamental principles of great and meaningful design. Part operating manual for designers and part manifesto on the power of designing for people, "The Design of Everyday Things" is even more relevant today than it was when first published."--Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO, and author of "Change by Design""Norman enlightened me when I was a student of psychology decades ago and he continues to inspire me as a professor of design. His new book underpins all essential aspects of interaction design, the mother of human creation. It equips designers to make the world a safer, more pleasant and more exciting place. The cumulated insights and wisdom of the cross-disciplinary genius Donald Norman are a must for designers and a joy for those who are interested in artifacts and people."--Cees de Bont, Dean, School of Design, and Chair Professor of Industrial Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

About the Author

Donald A. Norman is co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, an executive consulting firm that helps companies produce human-centered products and services. He is Breed Professor of Design Emeritus at Northwestern University and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, where he was founding chair of the Department of Cognitive Science and chair of the Department of Psychology. He has served as Vice President of Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group, and his many books include Emotional Design, The Design of Future Things, and most recently, Living with Complexity.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book - no matter what your profession 27 Oct 2013
By Smiling Buddha - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Finally I got a chance to read this amazing book. Don Norman treats design very methodically and shows that good design is not a black box but something even more analytical people can understand and apply.
There are many important lessons but I found the concepts of discoverability, affordance, signifiers, feedbacks, mappings and constraints a simple, yet a powerful model to understand design.
I am not a designer by a far stretch but I can now appreciate good vs bad design with a deeper understanding of the designer's intent in building something. Even of design is not your field, you will greatly benefit from the book and you will realize that design is not just a touchy feely topic.

Although, I would have to say that for a design book, the images are not printed very well (in the paper back edition). And the during introducing the core concepts, in the first chapter, the author forgot to include 'constraints'. Also the order of these terms keep changing though out the book. This does not align well with the mapping concept the author so strongly professes.

However, now that this edition is out, don't get the previous version, since this one has far more relevant examples including hand held devices. As an additional resource, there is also a design course on udacity offered by Don Norman.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half as long would have been twice as good. 3 Jun 2014
By Arthur F Black - Published on
The good:

All three stars I'm giving this are for the content. Norman's insights and principles are worthwhile and very useful. I don't agree with all of them, but most of them seem sound and the ones that don't still bring up good points to discuss.

The bad:

I wish an editor could convince him to cut this book in half. It's obvious that Norman is a academic and has been for a long time. He has that thing, that ivory tower myopia that comes off as pompous and self congratulatory. I had a really hard time wading through his never ending stories in the service of simple points. GET TO THE POINT, MAN. He also uses psychological terms that are terrible to try and parse (associative activation error? Are you kidding me? How about we call that the "ring ring, come in" error, so maybe people can remember it.) It's surprising that a book about design is so poorly designed on so many levels. Part of that is because this edition is an Amazon print on demand, and the layout sucks. Good lessons in here about how NOT to layout text. Part of it is also up to Norman, though. He likes using italics, I think as asides or illustrations of a point, but it's not consistent, and really just why, man? Why do that? Accept the cultural constraints of typography.


My advice is to read the last chapter, which is a nice succinct roundup of all the main points. If you want more information on any topic, look back through the book.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It can change your life 5 Jan 2014
By Matt - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Learning the basic design principles in this book has altered the way I look at everything around me. I recommend it for everyone.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 23 April 2014
By Peter Gaseoustania - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Though a bit out of date (not much in the way of cell phones, etc.) this book is thought-provoking, and provided us with some conversation starters. I believe there is also a newer version that deals with updated technology.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Revised Edition is Great 6 April 2014
By Sarah in CA - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have ever read the original, then you will love the new one too. I recommend this book to all my university engineering students. Great examples today's college student can relate to.
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