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The Design of Everyday Things | [Donald A. Norman]

The Design of Everyday Things

First, businesses discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came science. Now, Donald A. Norman, former Director of the Institute for Cognitive Science at the University of California, reveals how smart design is the new frontier. The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how - and why - some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.
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Publisher's Summary

First, businesses discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came science. Now, Donald A. Norman, former Director of the Institute for Cognitive Science at the University of California, reveals how smart design is the new frontier. The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how - and why - some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©1988 Donald A. Norman (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Provocative." (Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (225 )
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4.0 (187 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 10-29-11
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 10-29-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Badly needs updating"

    The original title for this book was "The Psychology of Everyday Things" and it has not been updated since 1988. It contains mostly pop psychology insights from the '80s rather than design ideas, so if you are looking for information on the actual design process you will be disappointed.

    Many of the psychological insights have been refined and unpdated in the two decades since publication and what must have been insightful and modern at the time now seems obvious or too simplistic.

    The performance is terrible. The narrator has a Shatner-esque delivery where he randomly speeds up and slows down his reading and then dramatically drops his volume at the end of sentances. I honestly thought there was a problem with my stereo before I figured out he was doing it on purpose.

    The author mentions in his new preface that the ideas in the book are timeless and therefore he didn't think it needed updating. However, a significant amount of speculation is done by the author about what computers in the future will be capable of--all of which has already come to pass. There is simply no need for an entire chapter fantasizing about a future where you can have an electronic appointment book.

    Apparently, the book is considered a classic in the design and engineering world, but until it is updated it only has value as a historic document.

    32 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn 10-16-11
    Lynn 10-16-11
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    "Much Insight a Little Dated"

    I have two rules; avoid abridgements and watch out for older texts on contemporary topics. The Design of Everyday Things was produced several years ago and it shows. While it is just filled with worthy insight, much of the material is dated.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Hot Springs, NC, United States 10-13-11
    Dennis Hot Springs, NC, United States 10-13-11 Member Since 2010
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    "A bit dated."

    Narration is good and keeps your interest. The idea that we should blame bad design and not ourselves for mistake is stated repeatedly throughout the book. To my disappointment I found the examples to be dated. He discusses VCRs as if they were more commonly used than DVDs. At one point he said he envisioned a portable computer that could be taken anywhere plugged into a phone within 5 years. How long has the iPhone been out? It would have been nice if the book updated before making into an audiobook. Turns out that this audiobook was recently released (making it seem like it was a new book) but had been written several years ago.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas New York, NY, United States 11-13-11
    Douglas New York, NY, United States 11-13-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Classic in the Design World"
    Would you listen to The Design of Everyday Things again? Why?

    Potentially. It would be a great reference book to remind myself of good design principles.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The history behind of the important design decisions that we use in our lives (e.g. keyboard), as well as the concepts that will continue to hold over time.


    What three words best describe Peter Berkrot’s voice?

    Solid, plain, clear.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Only relevant for certain people, but at the same time for those who understand these concepts already might not learn anything new.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Welch Traveling Around The World 09-08-12
    A. Welch Traveling Around The World 09-08-12 Member Since 2003
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    "Quaint"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Despite having a nominal publishing date of 2002, the examples in the book were never updated from the late 1980's. This makes the book incredibly old fashioned and quaint to listen to. Although the ideas contained are timeless, the examples (such as PBX phones and floppy disks) are so out of date they obscure the arguments of the book.


    What was most disappointing about Donald A. Norman’s story?

    The examples. They are out of date and truly irrelevant in this age.


    What three words best describe Peter Berkrot’s performance?

    strident, monotonous, and nasal


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Design of Everyday Things?

    I would update the examples to ones that are relevant today. There are adults out there now who have never seen the kind of phone systems he describes, the typewriters, or the floppy disk. Every single example from this book is from the late 1980's, and was not updated during the 2002 publication. MAJOR editing mistake.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny J Taylor 05-13-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Read this book!"

    A must read for not just product designers but for all the users of the world and the products in it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ethiopat 04-26-15
    ethiopat 04-26-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great insight on the key components of good design"

    I really liked all of the examples that he used to illustrate good and bad design. Some examples are outdated and might seem inapplicable anymore but the methodology is still very applicable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josh CENTENNIAL, COLORADO, United States 04-21-15
    Josh CENTENNIAL, COLORADO, United States 04-21-15 Member Since 2012

    Follower of Jesus, Digital product manager, Father, Husband, Actor, Singer.

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    "Insightful"

    The author was so smart in his approach to writing this book. He was able to write in such a way that withstood time and technology so the principles would last. The art of usability certainly isn't a new one. As much to learn about creating usable products from this industry classic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Pablo 04-07-15
    Pablo 04-07-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Fantastic"

    Fantastic concepts about design that are timeless. This book goes deep into design of even the most basic things in a profound and meaningful way.
    I would like an update to the information presented in the book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Troy L. Hester Huntsville, Alabama United States 03-20-15
    Troy L. Hester Huntsville, Alabama United States 03-20-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Timeless"

    Written so long a go by one who heralded the empowered world we live in. Listening to the wistful predictions that came to pass is almost as entertaining as the insights and observations a designer can still use today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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