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The Design Of Everyday Things Paperback – Aug 29 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (Aug. 29 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465067107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465067107
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Anyone who designs anything to be used by humans--from physical objects to computer programs to conceptual tools--must read this book, and it is an equally tremendous read for anyone who has to use anything created by another human. It could forever change how you experience and interact with your physical surroundings, open your eyes to the perversity of bad design and the desirability of good design, and raise your expectations about how things should be designed. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"Provocative." -- Time magazine

"This book is a joy--fun and of utmost importance." -- Tom Peters

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
great for artists, designers, programmers, architects, actually pretty much anyone who has an interest in they way things work, creative process, and design.
This challenges the notion of lazy design, and goes against the issue of designing things the same way becuase that's the way it's always been done. Rewinds the design process and starts over. Shows design flubs and goes through the thought process and the intentions behind them. VERY interesting book, love the photographs and diagrams.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Norman has written a great 'big picture' book on design. It deals with the concepts of design through example, and in no specific way. The ideas can be applied to any type of design, and he explains the logic behind such examples and ideas so that they make sense.

The book is clearly illustrated, and quite interesting to read, I think because so many of the examples are simple things, everyday things, and things that have come and gone throughout many readers' pop-culture life spans. It doesn't seem to me a book merely for designers, but for anyone. It's full of logical advice on the topic of creating things. Design is like rhetoric or syntax...anything we create has to be created in some way. And the way has a quality...knowing about 'big picture' design can help raise that quality.
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Format: Paperback
Okay, the guy makes his points rather well. But there are a few things about this book that I found very frustrating.
He keeps jumping around between plain text and italics. Some headings are all in caps, some are not. Some headings are left justified, some right justified. I'm sure there's a meaningful structure to this in the author's own mind, but when you can only see two pages at a time it's impossible for the reader to see what that structure is. Big headings and smaller subheadings would be a better layout, with the anecdotes in a blockquote format rather than the off-putting italics. The author really needs to practice a bit of what he preaches.
Also, it could use an update. For example there's this paragraph that promises that within five years we'll have a handheld device that will allow us to keep track of appointments, take notes etc. 10 out of 10 for accurate prediction of the PDA, but it's time to update the text. Then the photos are pretty old as well. Makes it look like the book hasn't changed since the early 80s and left me wondering if he's aware of the design of modern everyday things or the fact that computer users are better educated now than they used to be, or if he knows that user interfaces have improved at all.
I think that the original title, the Psychology of Everyday Things would have been a more accurate title for the book since a lot of time is spent describing the minute details of human thought. Maybe a subtitle would be in order, something like "What designers need to know about the psychology of consumers."
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
Previously titled as "The Psychology of Everyday Things", another title for this book might well have been "The Usability of Everyday Things." Norman successfully helps designers think through some of the usability issues associated with their designs. As someone who attempts to design easy-to-use software, the issues raised in this book are very helpful.
According to Norman, "clever" or "unique" designs may often win awards, but these same designs may often be difficult to use. Usability needs to receive greater attention when designers are hard at work, but design considerations are frequently driven by appearance and price. I think Norman's book would be interesting reading for consumers as well as designers, especially since consumers often purchase items based on appearance and price rather than usability.
Some may find the examples used in the book to be a bit dated, but the principles behind the examples clearly still apply. The only area of the book that I think needs careful reading is in the discussion of how memory and the human mind work. Though very interesting, there is much in this section that is simply theoretical and needs to be taken as such. It would be interesting to read some more recent information in this area to see how the theories have shifted in the last decade.
Regardless of these issues, the principles enumerated in the book will prove very helpful to those in any industry who are responsible for the design of everyday things.
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