Top critical review
Excellent, Slightly Repetitive, and Just A Little Dated
on October 16, 2001
I read this book (1989 edition) in 2001 after reading a lot of good and excellent reviews of the book on Amazon. I got a copy from the library and read the book over a couple of days.
Let me say that this book is an excellent read for anyone who has either suffered through modern (VCR, computers) and not so modern contraptions (doors) as well as for those who actually design these things. The author has used many, many examples to drive, no, hammer the point accross that most everyday appliances that we use are (a)Not well thought designs, (b)Form seems to precede function, (c)Difficulty in using a product seems more often than not the fault of the end-user.
The book therefore is a fascinating read on how so many bright people can come up with so many not so bright designs. The book is not too big, so can be read in a relatively short period of time.
There are faults with the book too - in trying to drive home the point that many everyday things are poorly designed, the author becomes repetitive. Even with a gentle style of writing and criticism the book at times reads like a litany of complaints. And some of the author's suggestions as to what he thinks might be good design examples I couldn't agree with whole heartedly - eg. he thinks a computer mouse should not have 2 buttons, one might do.
Overall, the book is a must read. I can suggest for those who wish to read something similar but deals more with computers and modern electronics a couple of books by Alan Cooper - 'About Face' and 'The Inmates Are Running The Asylum', as well as most books by Steve McConnell.
One interesting note - the author in 1989 states that the computing power to put a small computer in one's plam was there, and within 10 years he expected such a device to become perfect. That would mean 1999. We had the Palm 3 and 5 in 1999. Perfect? Maybe not. But what strikes me is that the author in 1989 could think to give the technology 10 years to mature.