Nick Black's Reviews > The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
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it was ok
bookshelves: read-multiple-times
Recommended to Nick by: Jeff Garzik
Read 3 times. Last read January 1, 2000.

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 target audience. this book seems to receive much play in computer science programs, but it's really much more of an industrial design text; its prevalence in CS programs evidences IMHO the sad state of HCI textbooks.

I'm still eagerly waiting for a single textbook which unifies theory and practice of effective, attractive UI design. Instead, we seem to have the "GUI metrics" crowd, fetishists assuming the existence of some spiritus mundi, just waiting for the right Gaussian to be fitted (thus giving rise to twin abominations, MacOSX and GNOME3); meanwhile the "design" crown speaks in riddles, playing a game where men throw ducks at baloons, and nothing is as it seems...but this is why, I suppose, I only write backends and libraries.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 1, 2000 – Started Reading
January 1, 2000 – Finished Reading
Started Reading (Paperback Edition)
January 1, 2002 – Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
October 20, 2008 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
October 20, 2008 – Shelved as: read-multiple-times (Paperback Edition)
April 15, 2011 – Shelved
April 15, 2011 – Shelved as: read-multiple-times

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Catherine Well said. Being of the HCI crowd, I gave this book four stars because "it isn't rocket science" but reading it does a good job of creating solid foundations for a mental construct about what is good design and what is not, especially for those who've never looked at products or systems that way before. It's an eye-opener and that is something not even most textbooks can achieve.


Benny This book is required reading for Abowd's CS 3750 course on UI Design - the whole class has been based around it so far.


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