Top critical review
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Finding Problems with Everyday Things
on 22 December 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>-,'--