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The Design of Everyday Things (1988)

by Donald A. Norman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,792631,845 (4.05)29
"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 Don 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. "--… (more)
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» See also 29 mentions

English (61)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (63)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Great stuff to think about for an engineer like me. Interdisciplinary discussions and surprisingly succinct upon reflection. It's not your fault, it's bad design! ( )
  ds_db | Apr 25, 2022 |
Stayed for a long time on my pile of shame but quite old already anyway. Good thing. Ages very well even if VCRs are not around anymore the basic principles are still important the same nowadays.
Read it and you will see door handles with different eyes! ( )
  iffland | Mar 19, 2022 |
Interesting, but be warned- there is some heavy going here- not a light read. ( )
  PattyLee | Dec 14, 2021 |
I read this for work reasons but this one was interesting and thought-provoking beyond that. ( )
  mari_reads | Oct 13, 2021 |
Very good very good

Edit: Three years later I am upgrading this to five stars because it has stuck with me and changed the way I see the world. If you haven't read any other books about design, you need to read this book. The only people who don't like it seem to be:

1. People who aren't curious about design to begin with.
2. People who are already experts in design and found this all very facile.

Since reading the book and then wandering around the world interacting with products it has become clear that at least some professional designers have no idea what they are doing, so maybe you think you are a 2 but actually you're wrong and need to read this book. ( )
  RebeccaBooks | Sep 16, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donald A. Normanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Noferi, GabrieleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Originally printed as "The Psychology of Everyday Things". Reprinted as "The Design of Everyday Things." Please, do not separate the differently titled works.
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"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 Don 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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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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