Category Archives: Books

Book Notes: The Design of Everyday Things

This is an excellent book for those who aspire to do good work in the field of design, engineering, architecture, consumer products, or anything creative. After reading the book, you will have an enhanced appreciation for everyday things around you – things as trivial as a toaster, refrigerator, and pen. You will learn what separates a good product from a bad one. Dan Norman, the author is a renowned cognitive scientist and usability expert. He worked as a user experience architect at Apple, and popularized the term “user-centered-design”.

Notes from the book:

Far too many items in the world are designed, constructed, and foisted upon us with no understanding for how they will be used. Three key things stand out of the book:

  1. Not the user’s fault: If people are having trouble with your product, its not their fault – it’s the fault of design
  2. Design Principles: Don’t criticize something unless you can offer a solution.
    • Feedback: The user must be able to see the effect of his action. If he presses something, let him know through the design interface.
    • Constraints: The surest way to make something easy to use, with few errors, is to make it impossible to do otherwise. e.g. Battery of memory cards go only one way in properly designed products
    • Affordances: A good designer makes sure that appropriate actions are perceptible and inappropriate ones invisible.
  3. The power of observation: The path to be a good designer, starts by learning to watch, and learning to observe. Yogi Berra said “You can observe a lot by watching”. Problem is you have to know how to watch.

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