The Design of Everyday Things

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The Design of Everyday Things
The Design of Everyday Things (cover 1988).jpg
Author Donald Norman
Original title The Psychology of Everyday Things
Country United States
Language English
Genre Design, Psychology, Business
Publication date
1988
ISBN 978-0-465-06710-7
Dewey Decimal 620.8'2—dc20

The Design of Everyday Things is a best-selling[1] book by cognitive scientist and usability engineer Donald Norman about how design serves as the communication between object and user, and how to optimize that conduit of communication in order to make the experience of using the object pleasurable. One of the main premises of the book is that although people are often keen to blame themselves when objects appear to malfunction, it is not the fault of the user but rather the lack of intuitive guidance that should be present in the design.

The book was published in 1988 with the title The Psychology of Everyday Things. Norman said his academic peers liked that title, but believed the new title better conveyed the content of the book and better attracted interested readers.[2]:ix It is often referred to by the initialisms POET and DOET.

Norman uses case studies to describe the psychology behind what he deems good and bad design, and proposes design principles. The book spans several disciplines including behavioral psychology, ergonomics, and design practice.

Contents[edit]

In the book, Norman introduced the term affordance as it applied to design,[3]:282 adding a perceptual dimension to James J. Gibson's concept of the same name.[1] Examples of affordances are flat plates on doors meant to be pushed, small finger-size push-buttons, and long and rounded bars we intuitively use as handles. As Norman used the term, the plate or button affords pushing, while the bar or handle affords pulling.[3]:282–3[4]:9 Norman discussed door handles at length.[5][4]:10,87–92

He also popularized the term user-centered design, which he had previously referred to in User Centered System Design in 1986.[6] He used the term to describe design based on the needs of the user, leaving aside what he deemed secondary issues like aesthetics. User-centered design involves simplifying the structure of tasks, making things visible, getting the mapping right, exploiting the powers of constraint, designing for error, explaining affordances and seven stages of action.

Other topics of the book include:

  • The Psychopathology of Everyday Things
  • The Psychology of Everyday Actions
  • Knowledge in the Head and in the World
  • Knowing What to Do
  • To Err Is Human
  • The Design Challenge

After a group of industrial designers felt affronted after reading an early draft, Norman rewrote the book to make it more sympathetic to the profession.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Durham, Tony (November 6, 1998). "Science of the appliance". Times Higher Education. 
  2. ^ Norman, Donald (1988). "Preface to the 2002 Edition". The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-06710-7. 
  3. ^ a b Cooper, Alan; Reimann, Robert; Cronin, Dave (2007). About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley. p. 610. ISBN 978-0-470-08411-3. Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Norman, Donald (1988). The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-06710-7. 
  5. ^ Binstock, Andrew (September 6, 1999). "New Mantra: Usability". Information Week. 
  6. ^ Friess, Erin (March 2008). The User-Centered Design Process: Novice Designers' Use of Evidence in Designing from Data (PhD thesis). Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved November 22, 2011. Lay summary. 

Further reading[edit]

  • O'Dwyer, Davin (December 12, 2009). "Grand designs". The Irish Times. Retrieved November 22, 2011. 

External links[edit]