Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
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Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,590 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Did you ever wonder why cheap wine tastes better in fancy glasses? Why sales of Macintosh computers soared when Apple introduced the colorful iMac? New research on emotion and cognition has shown that attractive things really do work better, as Donald Norman amply demonstrates in this fascinating book, which has garnered acclaim everywhere from Scientific American to The N...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 11th 2005 by Basic Books (first published 2003)
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Erika RS
This book was interesting but disappointing.

The first half was a fascinating addendum to The Design of Everyday Things. This part of the book talked about the role of emotions in design and usability. Things that are more pleasurable to use are easier to use than something with the same basic design that is not a pleasure to use. The psychological basis for this claim is that when people are enjoying what they are using, they can take a more creative view at any problems they encounter during t...more
Michael Scott
(I chose to write this review only after reading both Emotional Design and The Design of Everyday Things. The wait was worthwhile.)

Emotional Design focuses on the aesthetics of things, that is, on what makes an object desirable (for a human). Just like the influential late-1980s book by Norman, The Design of Everyday Things, this book marks a belief shift, from performance and usability, to catering to human impulse and cognitive responses. In other words, Norman argues that we are no longer in...more
This is the first book I’ve read on design. I like the focus on the importance of emotions. The first four chapters were interesting to me, then I hit a dead zone and skimmed chapters 5-7, but I enjoyed the epilogue. I’m sure I will look at products in a new way after this.

Also, I like to find arguments against our crappy school system and ways to improve it, so this caught my eye:

p. 205 Robot tutors have great potential for changing the way we teach. Today’s model is far too often that of a ped...more
Stephanie W
I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but this is a book you can aptly judge. The cover depicts a juicer that is mechanical and feminine at the same time. It has sharp edges beautifully paired with delicate, sensual curves. It is supposedly not meant for juicing actual fruit, but it is certainly a conversation starter.

This book was full of great anecdotes about the random stuff we have that we are attached to for no apparent reason. I have a hand mixer in my house that used to...more
This book expands on Norman's The Design of Everyday Things by exploring how people interact with things when human emotions are taken into account. While the previous book focused on usability based on physical human limitations and logical design, this book delves into how design can affect both the act of the interaction and the quality of the emotional bond with objects (and computer software) through that interaction.

This is not a How-To design book with step-by-step instructions; it explor...more
I just weeded this book out of my bookshelves, after four years and moving it across the country and into (and out of) four separate apartments. I took it off the shelf, removed the bookmark that had been optimistically marking a quarter of the way through the book, and I put the book in my stack of books to be given away.

I give up. I will never finish this book. The writing style is impenetrable and boring, which means that even though the premise of the book is fascinating--how form affects wh...more
Donald Norman has some interesting thoughts on the emotional component of design and how it intersects with psychology. Unfortunately, the book veers off into a musing about the future, including two whole chapters dedicated to speculating about robots.

Norman also has a tendency to repeat himself and reuse quotes, which makes the book tedious to read. Additionally, his frequent gripes about the design of personal computers and electronics haven't aged well and seem anachronistic in the age of iP...more
Nick Gotch
The first (and larger) part of Emotional Design is classic Norman: thorough analysis, dissection, and reflection on why and how the design of different things affects us. This part gets into some fascinating ideas that can definitely help any kind of designer make a better product. There's no shortage of theories put forth (with good backing) for why and how we connect with things.

Norman breaks down our emotional reaction and connection to different things into three groups: visceral, behavioral...more
Jan 16, 2009 Mitchell rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: educators, technologists, designers, teachers
Emotional Design  Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanThis book was an amazing discussion of the psychology behind the stuff we love. I particularly enjoyed how much it spoke to our social networking tools. Our desire to connect with tech is discussed. The chapter on the future of robots also spoke quite a bit to educational design. the author, was a Cognitive and Computer Scientist who studied how well things work. During this his time studying this he noted the frustration and devotion people developed with certain products.

My most valuable les...more
We are surrounded by things, and the way we relate to them is as important as the way they impact us. Design is the art, science and technology that address the shape, role, functionality and appeal of things (mostly artificial). The author developed a set of ideas about design throughout is winded career in and out of academia, and this book captures a part of those while hinting at how he reached them and how possibly he is still making up his mind about them. Indeed the author shows even in t...more
Jesse Bowline
On its face, Emotional Design seems like it would be the perfect thing for me, a book about why design matters. Which it does. Obviously.

However, in actually reading it, I encountered some problems, partially on me and partially on Donald A. Norman.

For my part, I prefer books that tell stories. For this reason, I find many non-fiction books to be a bit dry for my taste. I fully accept that it's a matter of my personal opinion and not a reflection on the work itself when I read a book that doesn'...more
Areeg Samy
Emotional Design is a must read for all designers and for industrial designers in specific. It covers the all the psychological, emotional and mental aspects related to any design on the 3 emotional levels; visceral, behavioral and reflective. It points out how form and function could help introduce the product to the user and how trust and emotional attachtment to some products are built. In the last 3 chapters, the book takes a futuristic drift and discusses machines, their relation to humans...more
In the epilogue of this book, Don Norman expresses his gratitude to a myriad of people who helped him organize many years worth of disparate notes into a cohesive book. For me, ‘Emotional Design’ remained rather disconnected. Not in an altogether bad way, the book reads like the (slightly rambling) classroom lecture from a venerable guru …with the reader left to pull it all together.

Norman offers an illuminating model - distinguishing between 3 layers of design: visceral, behavioral and reflecti...more
I was happy with this book, but think I like the Design of Everyday Things better overall.

Was a bit bored by the last chapter on the future of robots.
Have the sneaking feeling that I'll "get" this book a lot better in a few years' extra maturity.

Notes for future Eric:

Some nice ideas though, the soundbite "our emotions make us smart" will probably stick with me for some time. Now noting the visceral, behavioural and reflective split for future reference. Definitely liked the point that emotions a...more
This book is for the most part, a very good distillation of what is good and bad about product design of all kinds. It's subtly humorous and very detailed in its dissection of what makes up a user experience. It ties in very well actually with Alan Cooper's book on software design and vice versa. It's well thought out and adequately concise for the range of topics it covers.

The only problem I really had with this book, was Norman's obsession with robots. The robot section gets a little agonizing...more
Anyone who designs anything must read this book. The biggest takeaway - the lesson I still remember years later - is that when someone hates or gets frustrated with your creation, it's not their fault. They aren't stupid. They're human. Your design is wrong. Many more valuable lessons are in this book. Enthusiastically recommended.
The subtitle of this book is "why we love (or hate) everyday things."

So, why are there two chapters on robots?

The first half of the book is essential reading for designers. Unfortunately after that it really loses focus. Even though the robot chapters were sort of interesting, I did not understand its relevance to the design of everyday objects.
Although I enjoyed it (probably more than I expected to), and although I can see how all parts of the book relate to one another, I still came away from this book feeling like it was actually two books smushed together, one about the way human beings form attachments to objects, and one about the evolution of emotion in robots--the objects forming attachments in return. And despite being only a few years old (2005), it still felt quite dated when talking about technology (particularly things lik...more
There are a few grains of somewhat valuable or intriguing insights in this book, but you'll have to sift through Donald Norman's extremely repetitive writing and jargon first. This book could probably be half its size. Norman uses several examples of products that illustrate his points well, but insists on spending several pages reiterating his theories for EACH AND EVERY example. The book's poorly organized chapters offer no distinct theses at their opening and wander off in all directions to v...more
Stefano Bussolon
This is the only book written by Norman I would not recommend. It is based on a theory of emotion and cognition that have never been confirmed and supported outside the ux community. Our mind don't works like that, we don't have 3 brains, and everything is much more complicated.
"With positive affect, you are more likely to see the forest than the trees, to prefer the big picture and not to concentrate upon details. On the other hand, when you are sad or anxious, feeling negative affect, you are more likely to see the trees before the forest, the details before the big picture" (Norman, 2005: 26)

Well, is it something like, when I feel distracted by a problem, I become too worried about a thing? Or, does it mean that negative affect brings me into scary situations, which...more
Johanna Lynn
This was a belated follow-up to Norman's Design of Everyday Things, where he neglected an important psychological factor in design--emotion, the visceral evocation of attachment to objects in our lives. This book addresses that aspect.
Like always, Don Norman is very insightful and thoughtful about how design interacts with us. Like his style and his other books, some chapters are rather long and proves the same point. However i cherish his books in my book shelf
Another masterpiece from Donald Norman. Dr. Norman focuses this time on the aesthetics of objects and the impact it has on their usability. The postulate is simple: if you want people to use objects you design for them, you better make them look nice.
Humans are emotional animals, our emotions and senses guide our lives. The first emotions we get from objects are visuals and should encourage us to use them. If you pass the “visceral” test, there are chances that people start using the object you...more
A older, more seasoned Norman revises his old "function over design" paradigm with this book about third-wave design. No longer are design and usability at odds, but rather they complement each other. Why do you feel more confidently when you are well dressed? Why does your car drive a little bit better after a car wash?

The first half of the book is a wonderful guide into this merger for the first half of the book. However, it starts delving into movie psychology and robotics about half way thro...more
Dave Peticolas
Norman's first book focused on practical usability in everyday things. This time around he is concerned with their meaning and significance in people's lives. And it's another good read.
Joel Gn
Concise and informative, especially for those new to affect and design. The later chapters, however, didn't quite connect to the main theme of the book.
Elia Nelson
I love about this book the same thing I love about his first book - the examples are interesting, relevant, and extremely well described. The book might be even better without the slightly bizarre focus on social robotics at the end of it. But his point, that we do form emotional attachments to things, that those attachments are exaggerated when the objects can respond to us, and that those attachments genuinely affect how well something works, are important ones. When my friends and family ask...more
Jul 11, 2012 Mason added it
Donald Norman is a pretty big inspiration to me, being the first person who got me to think about the why of design. His book swings from a bit of psychology on over to product designers' roles in shaping the world we live in. His perspective is that each object in our environment has a psychological effect on people by its very presence and by how we interact with it (or don't).

I still chuckle at the resounding failures of many so-called "Norman doors" with the wrong affordances, and the hasty...more
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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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“Learning should take place when it is needed, when the learner is interested, not according to some arbitrary, fixed schedule” 18 likes
“Will robot teachers replace human teachers? No, but they can complement them. Moreover, the could be sufficient in situations where there is no alternative––to enable learning while traveling, or while in remote locations, or when one wishes to study a topic for which there is not easy access to teachers. Robot teachers will help make lifelong learning a practicality. They can make it possible to learn no matter where one is in the world, no matter the time of day. Learning should take place when it is needed, when the learner is interested, not according to some arbitrary, fixed schedule” 5 likes
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