Katie's Reviews > The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
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it was amazing

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, and psychology - but not too much to be overwhelming (in my opinion). The examples, while dated, were still quite excellent (assuming you were born pre-2000s but hey you can google things). Since I listened to the audiobook (on Hoopla) I missed out on the diagrams which is disappointing, so I think I recommend reading the actual book. (However, I quite enjoyed the narrator, Peter Berkrot.)

I think that the younger generations (like myself or maybe this is just applicable no matter the period in history) assume that older people or even people their own age who don't understand technology are dumb. I know I've felt that. While working in a game dev company, we often expressed how stupid our users were, because things seemed obvious to us. It was great to hear his thoughts on how it's not your fault you can't figure something out, it's the designer's. I think anyone who has ever made something needs to hear that. You made it, you have a mental model of how it works, of course it seems intuitive to you. He also goes into the difficulties designers face in getting to a good design and the struggle to keep a good design from being changed along the way.

I do think there were a few times he oversimplified things as far as challenges designers face, but overall he seemed to take a fair stance. It was especially fascinating to hear his "theories" on what computers would become (this was written in '88) and compare them to what HAS happened so far. He's often quite spot on, though I'm not sure how many of those things he helped MAKE happen. ;)

BLAH BLAH BLAH, IT'S GOOD. If you're a designer, a must read. If you aren't, it may be a little dense but still worth it if you're interested. Definitely will at least help you figure out how to look out for good design in the products you buy.
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Quotes Katie Liked

Donald A. Norman
“Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.”
Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

Donald A. Norman
“The vicious cycle starts: if you fail at something, you think it is your fault. Therefore you think you can’t do that task. As a result, next time you have to do the task, you believe you can’t, so you don’t even try. The result is that you can’t, just as you thought.”
Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

Donald A. Norman
“Principles of design:
1. Use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head.
2. Simplify the structure of tasks.
3. Make things visible: bridge gulfs between Execution and Evaluation.
4. Get the mappings right.
5. Exploit the power of constraints.
6. Design for error.
7. When all else fails, standardize.”
Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

Reading Progress

February 13, 2016 – Shelved
February 13, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
February 25, 2016 – Started Reading
February 25, 2016 –
February 26, 2016 –
13.0% "So this is new...I'm listening to this on audiobook as my non-Devin spinning/knitting background but it's referring to illustrations. Oops?"
March 5, 2016 –
35.0% "Still quite fascinating. While the principles are still applicable, the examples sure show their age."
March 5, 2016 –
41.0% "Devin was laughing because he didn't know what book I was reading or how old it was and the author started talking about how he wished there was an electronic calendar device he could carry around, with a keyboard, that could fit in a pocket, and wouldn't it be great if it connected to my phone?"
March 10, 2016 –
March 11, 2016 –
59.0% "The sections about how memory and the brain works is fascinating.\n \n ALSO FUN STORY (not really), thanks to this book I had TWO experiences today where instead of blaming people as is natural for us to do "oh I must be so stupid" I (in this book's opinion) rightfully blamed the design. The first was my mom struggling with my microwave - the second, ordering the wrong drink because of Starbucks' ill-named sizes."
March 15, 2016 –
65.0% ""The time is coming when it [the typewriter] will almost or quite as much supersede the steel pen."\n THIS BOOK IS ADORABLY OLD"
March 16, 2016 –
87.0% "Velcro: blowing minds in the '80s."
March 16, 2016 – Finished Reading

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