May 28th 2010

The Design of Everyday Things. Donald A. Norman

The Design of Everyday Things. Donald A. Norman. 1988. ISBN 9780465067107. This is the classic text on design. All players in the tech industry need to read this.  An early quote,”  Each time a new technology comes along, new designers make the same horrible mistakes as their predecessors. Technologists are not noted for learning from the errors of the past. They look forward, not behind, so they repeat the same problems over and over again.

Norman spent a lot of time in Apple’s early days as VP Advance Products Group, and the rest is history.  A fascinating easy to read writer, he fills the book with concrete examples of horrid mis design, drawn from all around us.  And he is right, present wireless devices are horrid.  While reading this you will become sensitized as to how bad design permeates our life.  From the huge (Chernobyl and Challenger) to the almost trivial (bathroom taps), you will start to see what he sees. Computer programs of course come in for a lot of abuse. (My favorite is the brutal treatment we receive from telco and Revenue Canada voice mail systems.  Enjoy. (He has other  books , Emotional Design, The Design of Future Things and Living With Complexity)  By the way his website is a bit of a surprise.   a sample of his writing

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