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The Design of Everyday Things

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  19,195 Ratings  ·  1,475 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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Zwe Naing goodreads does not offer online reading. You have to either buy the book or borrow from a library. :-)
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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 Elements of User Experience by Jesse James GarrettAbout Face 3 by Alan Cooper
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67 books — 113 voters
The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanDon't Make Me Think by Steve KrugThe Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People by Susan M. WeinschenkAbout Face 3 by Alan Cooper
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David
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Philip Mcallister
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
For a book that a lot of people rave about as being a 'bible of usability', I have to say it was one of the worst written and designed books I have ever been unfortunate enough to read.
Jim
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Nick Black
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Jessica
Apr 15, 2008 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.
linhtalinhtinh
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
This book is more for knowledge than for enjoyment. The writing is rather dry and textbook-like with many abstract/theoretical concepts and ideas. I feel like taking a short course in design, which is still quite helpful. Nevertheless, I was expecting more of "smart" designs, more fun and strange and inspiring stories, but Norman isn't there to entertain but to educate and so there are examples mostly to illustrate concepts and processes. Naturally I was a bit disappointed, but still in general ...more
David
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jessica E
Jan 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
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."
Traveller
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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!
Kater Cheek
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Katie
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I think there is really only one gif to sum this book up properly:


This book, although the examples are dated (as listed in nearly every review), is quite fabulous. The original title was actually "The Psychology of Everyday Things" which was less friendly to the average person, but quite accurate.

Like I said in a previous update, I feel like this book should be required reading for any type of designer, but somehow I had missed it until now. Great detail about design methodologies, constraints,
...more
Brian Rosenblat
(5.0)

Can't believe I hadn't read this before.

There's a lot of wisdom in this book. I'd highly recommend for anyone pursuing a career in design, product, marketing, or tech, or anyone who just wants to build great products.

Internalize these ideas and put them into practice and you will create better products that will impact people's lives.
Joe
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
The Design of Everyday Things (DOET) is the story of doors, faucets and keyboards. It's the tale of rangetops and refrigerators. Donald Norman beckons the reader to look at the common objects they deal with every day in new and methodical ways. And he offers up this central question; what makes an object well-designed as opposed to poorly-designed?

And on the question of design DOET, itself an everyday object, rates poorly. Norman's discussion of individual items proves inconsistent and rarely sy
...more
Laura
Jun 06, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was written in a decade before authors learned how to write stimulating non-fiction.
Rob Adey
Sensible thinking, but does come across at times like an 80s observational comedy routine about motion sensitive taps.
Stringy
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Neven
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Bryan Alexander
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology, design
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
...more
Noce
May 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Tracey
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, craft
The main question in my mind after listening to this audiobook is easily enough answered: How old IS this book, anyhow? In the introduction the author talks about how the book isn't dated. Well, it was originally published in 1988. One of the pieces of technology most discussed is the videocassette recorder. The VCR. The computers being discussed are about a step beyond the ones that were capable of adding three numbers together using a bank of systems that would fill a room.

Some of the book is
...more
Jacob Mclaws
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
This a required read for anyone who wants to design things for humans to use, but it was more like a textbook than I hoped when I picked it up. Lots of design vocabulary and lots of fairly common-sense principles. Don Norman is definitely one of the early design thinkers and this is where he talks about it all.

Big takeaways:
Signifiers and feedback are key in designing something. The user needs to be able to quickly understand what it can do (affordances) and get immediate and appropriate feedb
...more
Lacey
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, design
I'm just going to be real. This book was incredibly boring. I picked it up because I was told it was a classic of the field and would be useful to have in my reading repertoire. And truthfully, the only reason I gave it two stars instead of one is because of the impact this book has clearly had on the design field. I'm sure at the time of its original release, this book was light years ahead of others in the way that it thought about design. I can definitely see how its concepts have become a ma ...more
Eduardo Rocha
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jon
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Andreea
Jul 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
I usually do not let books un-finished, but this one is mediocre, especially if you have some basic psychology concepts
Utsav
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A couple of weeks ago a colleague brought some tarts to the office from Art Café. The lemon tarts were white and the coconut ones were yellow. You could see the grimaces on everybody's faces as they bit into what they thought was lemon pie and got a mouthful of coconut instead.

Small details matter.
Brian
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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,
...more
Maria
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
еееее, конец

что я могу сказать - не то чтобы книга бесполезная. нет, какие-то идеи из нее действительно фундаментальны и важны - что если пользователи постоянно совершают одну и ту же ошибку, это ошибка не пользователя, а дизайнера; что если обычное устройство, типа водопроводного крана, требует инструкции - это плохой дизайн и т.п.

но эти вещи легко уместились бы в 100-150 страниц и избавили бы читателя от остальных ненужных двухсот

три пункта, которые раздражали меня всю дорогу:

1) отсутствие лог
...more
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
Don Sevcik
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Good principles, I just wish it was less wordy. I wanted to see more examples.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please combine 2 7 Apr 18, 2017 08:46AM  
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  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Voices (New Riders)
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  • Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
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  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
  • Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research
  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning
  • Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests
  • Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior
  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
  • Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative
  • Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction 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
“Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.” 40 likes
“Rule of thumb: if you think something is clever and sophisticated beware-it is probably self-indulgence.” 28 likes
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