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38 Reviews
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Design made easy.
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...
Published on 3 May 1999

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finding Problems with Everyday Things
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...
Published on 22 Dec 2003 by M. Krzysik


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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The is the same as 'Psychology of Everyday Things', 22 Sep 2002
By 
Cassandra (Manchester, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
If you already own 'Psychology of Everyday Things' by Donald Norman - don't buy this - it's the same book - just in paperback.
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31 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Outdated undergrad course notes, 24 July 2002
The book reads as a bound set of lecture notes for a US first year undergrad course. Whilst the core thrust of his argument has value, it is spoilt by labouring the point - time and time again he comes back to criticising ease of use of the telephone until the reader is left thinking "ok, just get over it".
The text itself is very dated - there are humourous references to a "pocket size computing device which has huge storage and is able to connect to my laboratory and home computers possibly electromagetically" being available in 15 years hence.
There are also a number of factual inaccuracies which detract from the message. A painfully detailed description of the way in which turn-offs from British motorways are signed, which is upheld as an example of good design, is, well, just plain wrong.
I would take issue with some of the other examples selected as "good design". B&O hi-fi's, for example, may have an ergonomic style, but the user interface itself runs contrary to a large number of Norman's own recommendations regarding mapping and intuition. I wonder whether he has ever actually used one himself?
In all, the book serves as a useful starting point for discussion, but does not offer any significant insight into the psychology of design. Good ideas are undermined by poor examples and specious arguments, leaving little more than the common sense of good design.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read Papanek instead, 30 Mar 2000
By 
Andy Dingley "andy_dingley" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Papanek covered all of this ground 30 years ago, and rather better. Writing style is turgid.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Argument for Usability, But Misses the Application, 25 May 2007
"The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald A. Norman is said to be one of those great usability books. I bought mine at a major usability conference, believing the hype. My conclusion: Useful, but overhyped.

Norman takes a theme that says, "Look at history and you will see how the objects we use daily are sensible and functional. Now, design websites and software likewise," and develops a complete book.

Rats. I gave it all away. Now you do not need to buy the book, nor read any its 257 pages.

Really, that's more or less all there is to the book.

It is easy to read, but, in the end, becomes repetitive and is deficient in assisting the reader with application. It points out a problem we need to understand, but offers no solution. It is worth reading, but lacks as an instructional tool.

For the dense-headed, or for someone who has never considered the arguments for thinking about function before form, the book is tremendously useful. Example after example is presented is simple terms so that readers will see that merely having a cool website is not enough.

Where the book does not meet the mark is in the transferring the ideas into something modern, practical, and, in the case of we communications people, websites. What starts with a brilliant exposition about devices being useful ends where it started.

Anthony Trendl

editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and thorough study of user design issues, 16 Sep 2000
Interesting explanation of design issues, mainly looking at 'everyday things' but also covering some examples of industrial settings and the issue of human faliability. Adequate examples, mainly UK and US based.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Very Insightful, 16 Aug 2010
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I am a bit surprised that this has so good reviews. I read it and found it fairly unenjoyable, not very insightful and often I thought "anybody could have written this."

That said, the examples are quite good reading and the man obviously does know his stuff, even if he doesn't seem to get it into his book. More detailed accounts of the accidents he studied would be interesting.

I just wish the book gave more solutions. It doesn't take a lot to criticise digital watches, but it is a lot harder coming up with a good design.

It is rather out of date, but I don't think that would've been a problem in general.
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Horribly written, mostly unnecessary, but key book in HCI, 29 Nov 2000
By A Customer
If you dislike Norman's style... if you find his examples tedious - ditto. If you think his definitions are a little loose - don't ever read anything else by him, as his viewpoint is 'evolving', i.e. he keeps contradicting himself over time. Still. Donald A. Norman is a must-read if you get involved in HCI in any way. If only because his voice is heard loud and clear by course organisers in the UK.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal book. Computers are just things sent to annoy us., 17 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Norman's view is independent of computer technolgy, in fact his most telling analysis is on doors that open the wrong way or don't give clues as to how to use them.
Its the insight into the way we guess how to use things (and computer are just things) that make this a 'Must Read' for anyone involved in interface design, whether it is a microwave oven or a web site....
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The Design of Everyday Things, revised and expanded edition
The Design of Everyday Things, revised and expanded edition by Donald A. Norman (Paperback - 23 Dec 2013)
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