Play Book Tag discussion

The Design of Everyday Things
This topic is about The Design of Everyday Things
18 views
July 2018: Other Books > The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman - 4 stars

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Amy N. | 256 comments Have you ever pushed a pull door? Flipped the wrong light switch for the thousandth time? Been unable to figure out how to program your VCR? This book explains why, and better, explains why it's not your fault: these things happen because of bad design. That pull door should have had a handle that made you think 'pull', the light switch should be intuitively mapped to the position of the light it controls.

Even though about half the examples in this book are to do with technology that is outdated or no longer exists, the principles are timeless. Even though I'm not a designer of anything, it made me feel better about the times I bumble to figure out how an unfamiliar sink faucet works, and I think since its publication in 1988 it was helped actual designers make better design choices and make our world a little less confusing.

Interesting to note: in the section about computers the author basically predicted Google Calendar and smart phones, which was a trip to read some thirty years on.


message 2: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl (cherylllr) I want to read something up-to-date like this. Barring that, re-read this. Fascinating subject.


message 3: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 1976 comments So interesting. Mind you, I honestly can’t blame design for a lot of the mistakes I make ... more like absent-mindedness


message 4: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl (cherylllr) Of course, the best design compensates for us.... Is this the book that pointed out that most doors in public buildings have a vertical pull handle, and a horizontal push bar? *So* intuitive and automatic, at least for me in the US....


Amy N. | 256 comments Cheryl wrote: "Of course, the best design compensates for us.... Is this the book that pointed out that most doors in public buildings have a vertical pull handle, and a horizontal push bar? *So* intuitive and au..."

Yes, he mentions that. One example of very good design is that fire escape doors have a horizontal push bar. When you're panicked you don't have time to try to figure out how to open the door. There's really only one way to approach that kind of door, and it's the way you should when you're trying to flee the building.

Truly good design compensates for absent-mindedness, forgetfulness, and just plain human error, but either I'm just not a design person or it seems like there are things that simply cannot be designed perfectly. For instance, it's desirable to do the opposite of what he suggests and make doors harder to open when you're trying to keep children from just running outside willy-nilly, but in making the doors harder to open you have potentially created a problem during an emergency. What if the child needs to leave if the adult is incapacitated? What if the difficulty makes it harder for a disabled adult as well? The nice thing about this book is that while it does not offer perfect solutions for problems like these, it certainly makes them easier to think about and make intelligent trade-offs.


message 6: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl (cherylllr) Good points!
I agree that this book is for all of us, not just engineers or designers.


back to top