"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 ...
"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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Donald A. Norman wrote a landmark book back in 1988, previously called The Psychology of Everyday Things. (Norman explains the change in the preface.) I didn't read it in 1988, but twenty years later it's always entertaining, generally still relevant and often prescient.
If you think something you use on a regular basis is designed by a moron, this book speaks truth to power, my friend. If you occasionally look at a product - say, one by Apple - and think, "That is a brilliantly designed thing," well this book is also clearly for you.
It's considered a landmark book, and for good reason.
The book's main premise is both an examination of some items that are designed especially well (the typical touch tone corded phone) and a slew of others that are unnecessarily complex.
Things you deal with every day -- doors that you instinctively want to push but need to pull, trying to regulate the temperature in your refrigerator, half of the features on an average cell phone -- aren't purposefully confusing, but Norman successfully illustrates why they are too often designed stupidly.
Examining both the way we (users of designed products) react to information, how we map features - see clues to help guide us instinctively to use the product - are among the truly interesting points Norman makes throughout the book.
I'm especially late to the game with Design of Everyday Things, but it's obvious reading it to see how the ideas proposed here guide a lot of what Norman - and everyone else, for that matter - calls User Centered Design.
This book is absolutely for everyone but well worth reading for anyone involved in product management or marketing in general.
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