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The Design of Everyday Things
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The Design of Everyday Things

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  8,196 ratings  ·  666 reviews
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 an ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 19th 2002 by Basic Books (first published 1988)
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The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanDon't Make Me Think by Steve KrugUniversal Principles of Design by William LidwellThe Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. TufteSimple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design by Giles Colborne
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1st out of 43 books — 67 voters
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88th out of 875 books — 2,037 voters

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Community Reviews

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You can learn a lot about relationships from studying the principles of design.

Design is a noun and a verb. Here we’re thinking in terms of both, as in how to design a design. A design is an act of communication. Even the purely aesthetic design, in which appearance is all, is intended to evoke a response.

A functional design must convey the essence of the device’s operation to the user, or put another way: how form translates into function.

Design alone should convey how a thing is supposed to
After reading this you will never look at any man-made object the same. You will question everything from doors to tea kettles to the most sophisticated computer program. The next time you fumble with an answering machine, web page, or light switch you will think back to the lessons from this book. It is almost liberating once you can see beyond the design of everyday things.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. You absolutely must read it if you will ever be in a position to create something
Have you ever stood in front of a door, or a microwave, absolutely flummoxed, because the damned thing gave you no clue whatsoever how to open it. If so (even, I venture to think, if not), you will enjoy this book. In clear, coruscating prose he exposes the miserable flaws in the design of everyday objects which conspire to make our lives less convenient, more miserable, and sometimes more dangerous.

The book is not just an exposé of the appalling laziness and hostility to consumers that is commo
This took me FOREVER to read - but it isn't the book's fault. It was me just picking it up at odd moments & it giving me a lot to think about each time. I don't design every day things, so had absolutely no need to read this book, but found it extremely interesting. If you have any part in designing anything, you MUST read this book.

Norman points out the obvious - things I took for granted - & made me think about them in an entirely new light. He breaks down the simplest devices into t
Nick Black
Apr 15, 2011 Nick Black rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nick by: Jeff Garzik
Jeff Garzik gave me a copy of this back when he was building the Linux network stack in Home Park; I'd seen it praised by a few other people by that time as well (via the GT newsgroups, most likely). I was underwhelmed -- there were a few good case analyses (the oven UI I recall being particularly effective), but very little usable, general principles came out of the read. I went back in 2006, thinking I'd perhaps missed something, but didn't find much more. then again, i'm probably not the targ ...more
Excellent piece of non-fiction. This book is a prescribed textbook for a course on computer interface design that I'm doing.

Once I really started reading it, I almost couldn't put it down - it was so interesting that it almost read like fiction - none of the dry dust usually found in conventional textbooks.

Very well and humorously presented, and a must for engineers, designers, manufacturers and inventors everywhere!
Bryan Alexander
A splendid book that I finally got around to reading, The Design of Everyday Things walks us through exactly what the title promises. Norman explores phones, doors, car keys, VCRs, water faucets, and signage, looking for principles that show how these work well or poorly.

Despite the author being a psychologist, the books is beautifully bereft of jargon. It reads like Asimov's nonfiction: accessible, brisk, pedagogically attuned, and often witty.

One nice assumption: that the user (you) is usually
Orsù, imbranati di tutto il mondo rianimatevi

Una volta sfrondato dalla reiterazione sfiancante alla È facile smettere di fumare se sai come farlo il messaggio profetico emerge in tutta la sua evidenza.

Non siamo noi ad essere cerebrolesi, ma è il progettista ad essere diversamente scadente.

Detto questo, mi accingo a progettare una ciotola a sezioni basculanti con timer incorporato e pulsanti a idrogetto per il mio cane, in modo che anch’esso (si noti il lieve sadismo in crescendo che culmina in
Eduardo Rocha
This book is amazing. You'll never look at another door or faucet in the sameway.
If you take anything from this book, it is these 7 principles of making a difficult design task an easy one.

1. Use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head.
2. Simplify the structure of tasks.
3. Make things visible: bridge the gulfs of Execution and Evaluation.
4. Get the mappings right.
5. Exploit the power of constraints, both natural and artificial.
6. Design for error.
7. When all else fails, standardize
Mar 31, 2008 Jon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: designers, computer scientists, engineers
The book introduces basic psychological concepts from areas such as cognitive psychology and ties them into usability and design.

Even though the book feels a bit outdated (they talk about rotary phones and old sewing machines), all the principles covered in the book still apply today.

Even though the book was written with things in mind that most of us won't necessarily use anymore (such as the problem of threading a projector), the principles are still useful to know when designing modern-day th
Jul 13, 2008 Jessica added it
Shelves: partly-read
Couldn't get in to it. Maybe I'll try again at a different time. On a side note, I found it odd that a book about user-centered design had line-broken right-justified headings and baffling use of italics.
A classic for a reason. The examples are dated, but if you still remember rotary dial telephones (maybe over 30 years of age?) you'll be fine with them. Since Norman more or less predicts iPhones and iPads in this book, I'd love to read an update chapter from him in the next edition.

The principles are still accurate and useful, and Norman makes a solid case for why my inability to get through doorways safely is actually the fault of the manufacturers. People using products are busy, they have t
Kipriadi prawira
A big part of what makes The Design of Everyday Things so enjoyable are the descriptions of flawed designs that Norman peppers throughout the book. These case studies serve to illustrate both how difficult it is to design something well, n how essential good design is to our lives. Norman draws on his own (often humorous) experiences with poorly designed objects, as well as anecdotes from colleagues n friends, n paints an all-too-familiar picture of design gone awry. If you’ve ever struggled to ...more
May 03, 2012 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Brian by: Michael Economy
(4.0) Some good stuff in here, though it's certainly dated

I'll be looking up some of his other books to see if he's as good at predicting and suggesting product improvements as he was back then.

I think he makes concrete some really common sense ways to approach and analyze designs of products that humans use. It's certainly entertaining to point out ridiculous products, interfaces etc., but that's kind of 'negative design': what not to do. That doesn't actually help you do it right. Fortunately,
DoeT isn't the world's best written book—Norman's style is too often kvetchy-casual, sounding more like a modern-day ranty blog post than a classic of academic design writing.

But that is only one way in which this book is ahead of its time. The observations and recommendations regarding usable design here hold to extremely well 25 years later; even though Norman's examples concern ancient phone systems and slide projectors, it all translates perfectly well to virtual touchscreen UIs of today. A
Chad Warner
Sep 08, 2014 Chad Warner rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: designers
Recommended to Chad by: Jason Tally
An excellent book about how to design usable products. It’s philosophical but backed by plenty of examples (text and images) of good and bad design, including buildings, appliances, and technology. It’s interesting and well-written. I read the 1988 edition, so most of the tech references are dated, but the design principles still apply.

My web design business, OptimWise,designswebsites for small businesses, so I found this very practical. I liked Norman’s emphasis on simplicity, intuitiveness, an
Jessica May
Too general to be valuable. Too many sentences like this: "Each discipline has a different perspective of the relative importance of the many factors that make up a product."
Here was one of those few books that not only made me go "Whoa!" but also made me go away, many times throughout reading it, to do some pondering. Which, I believed, was one of the ultimate purposes of writing a book since as Descartes put it, thinking was the prove that I as a human being existed. So the book had proven that I existed, thank you very much.

The book started with some scenarios about faulty designs that embarrassed the user. Remember the time when you went to a toilet and broke in
Paul Reinheimer
This is a fantastic book.

The first thing you'll be told, and come to understand, while reading The Design of Everyday Things is that much of the time when you use something wrong, it's not your fault. Those doors that you pulled when you should have pushed, that can opener that never works quite right, they weren't designed properly. As you get over your new found sense of self-satisfaction you'll be carefully guided through the process of how we interpret objects and assume how they're used, an
Graham Herrli
This book has an important message: don't compromise usability for aesthetics' sake.

The message often gets lost along the way as Norman goes on tangents ranting about all the things that are bad about the design industry, all the many ways in products can be made hard to use. The message may be of consequence, but the tone is so grouchy and depressing that it detracts from the expression of this message. The book comes across not so much as a guide of how to design things well as a rant about al
Nota per il futuro: ricordarsi di guardare la data di pubblicazione prima di farsi tentare da un saggio con titolo accattivante.
Questo interessante excursus sulla non funzionalità del design è del 1988 e cita l'Apple Lisa come esempio di buona progettazione: vorrei sentire il parere dell'autore una volta messogli in mano un iPhone.
Esempi datati a parte rimane corretto il suo ragionamento: perché oggetti di uso quotidiano devono essere complicati? Perché si predilige l'estetica alla funzionalità
Ondřej Sýkora
An interesting discussion of how people approach and use things around them and how to design these things to be more usable. The main points of the book can be summarized as:
1. Make things visible - signal to the user what the possible actions are, be explicit about the outcome of these actions, and let the user perceive the current state of the system,
2. Make the mapping between the controls and the controlled objects as explicit and natural as possible, and
3. Make it difficult to make errors
Feb 04, 2012 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: curious people of all kinds. anyone who has to design anything.
By now, Donald Norman's Design of Everyday Things is a classic text on what we have learned to call user-friendly design. Twenty-first century readers will no doubt find it dated (see references to"computer mail"), but it is truly a must-read none the less. By exploring fundamental design principles through human interactions with everyday things -- doors, telephones, light and power switches, even cars -- Norman demolishes the notion of "user error" and lays down a roadmap for achieving truly u ...more
Kater Cheek
I got this as an audiobook, based on the fact that it falls within my usual taste for non fiction and because it's been referred to by many other books. In many ways, this is a classic book that inspired many people to think more seriously about design. At least, that's my impression, garnered from the unreasonably long introduction in which the author talks about how great and important his book is.

Confession time: I didn't finish the book. I got down to about the last hour and ten minutes and
Didn't actually finish the book because I felt it was starting to make me overly critical of everyday things. Most of the problems identified in this book are first world problems, such as how a bathroom could be designed better. Well, some people have holes in the ground with no proper plumbing! And others are trying to design "user-friendly" toilets. The last time I saw someone not know how to use a toilet, he was 2 years old. Honestly, the marginal utility from a better designed toilet or was ...more
David Ranney
That design affects society is hardly news to designers. Many take the implications of their work seriously. But the conscious manipulation of society has severe drawbacks, not the least of which is the fact that not everyone agrees on the appropriate goals. Design, therefore, takes on political significance; indeed, design philosophies vary in important ways across political systems. In Western cultures, design has reflected the capitalistic importance of the marketplace, with an emphasis on e
This book was written in 1988 and it shows. Most of the concepts and examples shown in the book are either outdated (wheel phones, VCRs, Answering machines etc.) or already corrected (gas stove knobs etc.) We can realize that this book should have made a HUGE impact when it was released. However, it brings in yawn to read in 2012. Websites (and GNOME project) have taught me a lot about usability and today's usability needs have grown a lot compared to the time this book was written.

The author is
Lectura imprescindible si te interesan temas como el diseño centrado en el usuario, usabilidad, etc.

La primera vez que lo leí fue durante la carrera de Psicología, cuando aún era "La Psicología de los objetos cotidianos". Pero esta reseña hace referencia a la edición electrónica del 2002: The Design of Everyday Things.

Algunos de los ejemplos, aunque el libro se ha actualizado un poco, siguen siendo anticuados (estamos hablando de cosas que hace 12 años eran habituales y que han quedado desfasada
Earl Carlson
There are many reviews elsewhere calling this book outdated. That is outlandish as the principals still apply, perhaps with even more force than they did when this book was originally written.

Norman's book should be necessary reading for any student in any design based field. I'm a bit ashamed it took me so long to pick it up. I'm glad I finally did, as I was still able to pick up some useful thoughts and ideas from the book.

Without spoiling anything, one big idea that is important is that user
Jan 05, 2015 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: book
Norman presents a textbook on the principles of good design. Filled with examples of good and bad designs, Norman distills the principles of good design.
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Donald Arthur Norman is a professor emeritus of cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego and a Professor of Computer Science at Northwestern University, where he also co-directs the dual degree MBA + Engineering degree program between the Kellogg school and Northwestern Engineering. Norman is on numerous company advisory boards, including the editorial board of Encyclopædia Bri ...more
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“Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.” 14 likes
“Rule of thumb: if you think something is clever and sophisticated beware-it is probably self-indulgence.” 10 likes
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