A great, landmark thesis. Apr 30, 2008
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.