The Design of Everyday Things Pdf

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About The Design Of Everyday Things Pdf

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 and the desirability of good design, and raise your expectations about how things should be designed.

B & W photographs and illustrations throughout. 

A praising of human creativity and problem-solving skills, shown on so normal and average examples one could never imagine that their history is so suspenseful.

Gosh, I didn´t know that there was such a huge bunch of other disciplines involved in the creation of everyday objects and how much scientific effort is made to pimp every single aspect until perfection.

Norman shows many examples of what works why, how even simple and banal seeming objects are filled with deep thoughts about each possible aspect and how products evolve. It amazed me that we, because of perfect product design, intuitively know how to use products and how quickly we learn when extra functions are added due to the evolution of tech. I hardly say that something changed my view of the world, but just as after enlightenment to mindful product praising, I tend to look at any design under this aspect now.

That usability and a more subtle way of manipulation by combining body and soul, hand and eye, joy and practicability, have long been ignored in just advertising and marketing products with quite simple jingles and without fusing the message, meaning and the look to ultimate seductiveness is stunning. To perfect how first our allegedly free, conscious minds can be mesmerized to buy a product that is so perfect, handy and good looking at the same time. Why can´t they start designing humans like that?

Reverse engineering why something seems so appealing is interesting for self-reflection, to find out what aspect of one’s personality made one so vulnerable for exactly this product and how they could get so deep inside one’s mind.

It will be interesting to see what Big Data and AI will make out of the field, I could easily imagine an individualization down to one single customer and her/his special wishes. Too far fetched? Until now, just simple market research, psychology, ergonomics, etc., made a pretty astonishing shopping experience possible and the key element was to know the wishes of all groups of customers. Now, with the collection of soon billions of profiles given in the fictional hands of an AI with 3D printing, nanotech, etc., everyone will be able to lose her/himself in the ultimate, senseless consumerism. But at least a unique one.

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 (i.e. software, a chair, a cardboard box). If you don’t, I will curse your name every time I am forced to use your product! 

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 their basic functions & features, then rebuilds them in a way that is both obvious & yet entirely new. He then points out places where the design elements are good & bad. He gets into the basic aspects of design that I never thought about such as aligning the number of controls with the number of functions. Best of all, he lays all of this out in an interesting manner with common examples as he delves deeper into the problems & solutions.

When you walk up to a door, how do you know how to deal with it? I never thought about it, just used it. Norman points out the clues I use, such as where the handles & hinges are located, as well as the conventions, such as pushing to go out of a commercial door, that I just KNOW & intuitively use. But what happens when designers fiddle around to make look pretty? Can anyone screw up something as mundane & venerable as a door? Unfortunately, yes indeedy!

He relates a funny story about getting stuck briefly in the foyer of a commercial building because of the ‘modern’ design of the doors. Hidden hinges, lots of glass, & handles that stretched across the entire center of the door gave no clue as to which way they opened. Couple that with one set of doors opening in the opposite direction from the others & a simple task – walking into a building without much thought (actually while thinking of other things, like the upcoming meeting) – became an irritating puzzle. Not a big deal? Actually, it is.

Norman pulls out some truly horrific numbers to make a great point on how important intuitive design is. The average person has something like 30,000 different instruction sets to remember on a regular basis. If each one of these took just a minute to remember, you’d spend several months learning them, assuming a 40 hour week devoted to the task! That we’ve absorbed these instructions & conventions over decades & are facing an increasing number of them on a daily basis makes it particularly irritating when they get redesigned into a problem.

Note: This book was published in the late 80’s. While there are some desktop computing examples given, this book is pre-Internet. Think of how much additional information is required in the wake of that. (Think browsers, email, scams, viruses, ….)

While some of the examples are a bit dated, such as VCR’s, they’re not terrible. The multifunctional switches, confusing menus, & seemingly random options packed into those machines have carried over into their descendents in spades. Other examples, such as phone systems & stoves, are still so on target that it’s absolutely infuriating. OK, phone systems are complicated, extremely proprietary & full of more options than ever, but do they HAVE to be so hard to use? I don’t think so.

I know damn well that designers could do a much better job of laying out the controls for something as simple as a stove. They’ve had over a century & it’s still a complete PITA to figure out which knob operates which burner. I can’t walk up to any stove & put my hand on the correct knob. I have to read, sometimes even puzzle out symbols to figure out which is which. Even on my own simple stove, which we’ve had 5 years, I wind up reading to figure out the controls. OK, Marg usually cooks, but that’s just STUPID design – one more minor irritation in a world filled with them, but one that could so easily be rectified with just a bit of thought!!! It’s just infuriating.

While I was reading this book, a couple of examples of its relevance slapped me in the face.
– Steve Jobs died. Why was he so successful? Many people say that he was an inventor. WRONG. He rarely came up with anything truly new. His forte was in timing & design. Microsoft had a tablet for years before the iPad but their offering never made it. Why? Because the hardware couldn’t support the overall expected functionality properly AND the user interface wasn’t nearly as well designed as the iPad. Microsoft tried too early, designed it poorly, & FAILED themselves right out of the market.
– Amazon took the ebook market by storm. The Kindle wasn’t the first ereader & it isn’t really all that great hardware-wise, but it has a great interface that leverages a wonderful support system – all good design. It does one thing & does it really well.

Long review, but design is one of the most misunderstood & important concepts of our lives. I was completely shocked by my own ignorance about it. I still don’t claim to be any expert, but it sure made me see the world in a different way.

About The Design of Everyday Things Author

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 Britannica. He currently splits his time between consulting, teaching, and writing. He co-founded the Nielsen Norman Group, a consulting group on matters of usability, which also includes Jakob Nielsen and Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini.

Many of Norman’s books deal mostly with usability or with cognitive psychology. He loves products which are enjoyable to use, a feature which he attributes to putting together emotion and design, or heart and mind.