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The Design of Everyday Things (1988)

by Donald A. Norman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,494661,934 (4.04)30
"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 30 mentions

English (64)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
This was written in a decade before authors learned how to write stimulating non-fiction. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Very thorough and well formulated. Guy is an expert in his field, and he manages to keep it interesting despite some of the dry subject matter ( )
  martialalex92 | Dec 10, 2022 |
The Design of Everyday Things is a book that should be read by anyone who wants to design something usable. This book is famous for its descriptions of incomprehensible doors and wretchedly confusing light switches. Norman points out what could be done to make these seemingly simple things be truly simple. He does not pretend design is easy; he discusses in depth the competing factors such as usability, cost, aesthetics, and features that a designer has to handle. Although the book does not deal extensively with computer interfaces, the discussions are still relevant to those of us designing computer systems. Read it!
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (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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