Design of Everyday Things - Don Norman


How to make products enjoyable to use.

why bother reading this book?

It is the gold-standard of the field, the UX version of Lean Startup.

Its ideas are widespread, and yet we make dumb UX mistakes all the time. Like statistics or moral philosophy, we probably need repeated exposure to Norman for the lessons to stick.

the idea is simple

The premise is that many products are designed poorly for the end-user.

This bit, 'for the end-user', is important. A poorly designed product could also be:

And so, what should be obvious (the product sucks to use) can be masked if you never actually use the product.

Enter Don Norman. His antidote to the looks-nice-but-actually-sucks-to-use problem is 'human-centered design', which amounts to "do not make your product suck to use".

practical advice

Norman offers some rules of thumb for designers:

the writing is bad

Design of Everyday Things is not well written and is unenjoyable to read.

DoET falls into the category of a Blinkist book. That is, 15 minutes of ideas spread across 200 pages.

Norman invents his own vocabulary:

I call the signalling component of affordances 'signifiers' [page 13]

I call the combined information available to us the 'system image' [page 31]