The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

While the book was first released back in 1988, it is not the date that makes it a milestone for every UX Designer, but the approach. As you can see from the title of the book, the protagonists are everyday objects and their bad designs. Starting from the design and the problems of physical and "simple" things like everyday objects, we can understand how the principles of good design must also be applied on the web and apps.

William MacKenzie
William MacKenzie
3 Min Read

The Design of Everyday Things is an important work by cognitive scientist Don Norman in the 1980s. The original title of the book was The Psychology of Everyday Things. Later, it changed its name because the author believed the new title better conveyed the content of the book and better attracted interested readers.

The book is considered a fundamental read for every designer, and recommended to anyone who approaches the world of design. Despite being several years old (the first publication is from 1988), the concepts that Don Norman deals with are applicable to any area of design

Who has never had to push a door instead of pulling it or give up washing their hands because they had trouble using the taps (faucets)? In these cases the feeling of personal incapacity is very strong: yet, Norman argues, the fault lies not with the user, but with those who designed these everyday things without considering normal mental activities of the people who are going to use those things.

According to Norman design on a human scale combines psychology and technology to create new products, but above all easy to use, understandable and, why not, also capable of giving pleasure. Because making and thinking about “human” products and services means changing our idea of the world.

Quotes from the book:

Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.

Rule of thumb: if you think something is clever and sophisticated beware-it is probably self-indulgence.

Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible,

A brilliant solution to the wrong problem can be worse than no solution at all: solve the correct problem.

Principles of design:
1. Use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head
2. Simplify the structure of tasks.
3. Make things visible: bridge gulfs between Execution and Evaluation.
4. Get the mappings right.
5. Exploit the power of constraints.
6. Design for error.
7. When all else fails, standardize

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Posted by William MacKenzie
William "Bill" MacKenzie, a seasoned UX Designer hailing from the vibrant city of Toronto, brings two decades of experience in the digital world to our team. With an impressive career that started in the early 2000s, he has honed his expertise in creating user-focused digital strategies. His multifaceted background spans roles in tech startups, digital agencies, and global corporations where he led teams to deliver intuitive and innovative digital solutions. Bill is passionate about humanizing digital experiences and continuously emphasizes the importance of empathy in design. A big fan of ice hockey, Bill loves to play in local leagues during his downtime.
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