The Design Of Everyday Things

By DonaldNorman. (ISBN 0385267746 )

From the jacket:

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 fascinating, 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 book presents examples aplenty -- among them, the VCR, computer, and office telephone, all models of how not to design for people.

But 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. But the designer must care.
Previously published as The Psychology Of Everyday Things.

The author deliberately picked an acronymizable name (POET) to help people remember the title. (Which does work well.) Then he discovered that bookstores tend to categorize books by title, not content, and his book often ended up on an inappropriate shelf. Newage psychology (or standard psychology) instead of computers or design.

So the book title turned out to be an example that clever design can be self-defeating in unexpected ways.

-- David Wolff

"... If taken seriously by designers and engineers, this charming and utterly commonsensical little book has the potential to profoundly improve the everyday human environment -- and I hope it will." -- DouglasHofstadter

"An important addition to a growing body of work on human psychological, bio-social, and cultural characteristics, which must be the basis of all good design ... Its criticisms parallel those some of us in environment-behavior research have made of the cultural and symbolic performance of objects. Its critique of industrial design extends and complements our criticisms of the design of landscapes, cities, buildings, and interiors." -- Amos Rapoport, Distinguished Professor of Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"A boon for thing watchers, people like me who are forever looking for new ways to see and think about the everyday world." -- SeymourPapert
The cover illustration is one of the best I've ever seen. I must have looked at it several times without getting the joke behind it. -- DavidBrantley
This is an excellent book full of examples & pictures, quite possibly the best bathroom reading for a programmer's bathroom possible. The lego motorcycle construction example is a wonderful example of how good design can lead a user to the best way to solve a problem. The book is not computer/programming specific at all, file it under "timeless design" -- LayneThomas
CategoryBook CategoryDesign

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