The Design Of Everyday Things Paperback – Aug 29 2002
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
The book is an interesting concept, however, it's title doesn't directly correspond to its content. The text presents itself as a rant, criticizing every bad design the author has... Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2011 by sonikin
There isn't much to say other than this is a must read for anyone working on product design and development! It's a breeze to read through.Published on June 17 2010 by VeroM
Worth reading for anybody who wants a primer on the subject of usability, or who simply enjoys well-written anecdotes and evidence on the topic of design.Published on Oct. 7 2009 by Allen Pike
Although I only read about half of this book, what I did read was quite good. This book presents some interesting insight into the design of everyday things, and provides amusing... Read morePublished on May 5 2009 by Eric Boyer
"The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald A. Norman is said to be one of those great usability books. I bought mine at a major usability conference, believing the hype. Read morePublished on May 25 2007 by A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com
I enjoyed this book - don't get me wrong. But I find presenting ideas one after the other, without constantly linking them, not very helpful. Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2006 by Reviewer
Take a look at the The Psychology of Everyday Things (the hardcover edition of this book). They changed the title for the paperback edition.Published on June 24 2004 by rk
If you design anything you will want to read this book. Even if you don't design what physically appears to a persons eye you want to read this. Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by Paco
I'll make this quick. Even though this book was read for a college class, I actually enjoyed reading it. Read morePublished on Jan. 31 2004 by Jackson Stephens
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