Start reading Living with Complexity on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Color:
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player

 

Living with Complexity [Kindle Edition]

Donald A. Norman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $26.99 What's this?
Print List Price: $26.95
Kindle Price: $14.57
You Save: $12.38 (46%)

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $14.57  
Hardcover $17.04  
Kindle Delivers
Kindle Delivers
Subscribe to the Kindle Delivers monthly e-mail to find out about each month's Kindle book deals, new releases, editors' picks and more. Learn more (U.S. customers only)

Book Description

If only today's technology were simpler! It's the universal lament, but it's wrong.
We don't want simplicity. Simple tools are not up to the task. The world is complex; our tools need
to match that complexity. Simplicity turns out to be more complex than we thought. In this
provocative and informative book, Don Norman writes that the complexity of our technology must
mirror the complexity and richness of our lives. It's not complexity that's the problem, it's bad
design. Bad design complicates things unnecessarily and confuses us. Good design can tame
complexity.Norman gives us a crash course in the virtues of complexity. But even such simple things
as salt and pepper shakers, doors, and light switches become complicated when we have to deal with
many of them, each somewhat different. Managing complexity, says Norman, is a partnership. Designers
have to produce things that tame complexity. But we too have to do our part: we have to take the
time to learn the structure and practice the skills. This is how we mastered reading and writing,
driving a car, and playing sports, and this is how we can master our complex tools. Complexity is
good. Simplicity is misleading. The good life is complex, rich, and rewarding -- but only if it is
understandable, sensible, and meaningful.



Editorial Reviews

Review

As the world grows beyond the understanding of any one Renaissance man or woman, Donald Norman's missive is well timed. Every product designer is an interaction designer whether they want to be or not.

(Robert Blinn Core77)

The world, it seems, is becoming ever more complex. While some view this as a problem, Don Norman sees it as an opportunity. In Living with Complexity, he brilliantly shows how, in a partnership between users and designers, we can tame the ravages of complex technology and complex situations to create experiences that work.

(Tim Brown, CEO and president, IDEO)

... you will like Norman's calm voice, keen observations and sage counsel about what could be done. Read his book.

(Geoffrey K. Pullum Times Higher Education)

About the Author

Business Week has named Don Norman as one of the world's most influential designers. He has been both a professor and an executive: he was Vice President of Advanced Technology at Apple; his company, the Nielsen Norman Group, helps companies produce human-centered products and services; he has been on the faculty at Harvard, the University of California, San Diego, Northwestern University, and KAIST, in South Korea. He is the author of many books, including The Design of Everyday Things, The Invisible Computer (MIT Press, 1998), Emotional Design, and The Design of Future Things.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2774 KB
  • Print Length: 312 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (October 31, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ISL3R4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,586 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
124 of 134 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nearly unreadable December 18, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I used to be a fan of Don Norman's books. Heck, The Design of Everyday Things is what got me started in my career, and reading it was a truly formative experience. Emotional Design is another great Norman book that helps the reader understand the world around them.

But the more Mr. Norman writes, the worse his books get. The Design of Future Things was a rambling beat-the-dead-horse screed about how cars should drive themselves, and appliance designers should find ways for appliances to communicate with us other than going 'beeeeeep'. Both of those are true, but he covered them just as well (perhaps better) in a two-page article he wrote for a journal.

This volume, Living With Complexity, continues that downward spiral.

As always, he has a good premise: complexity is not inherently bad. Simplicity is not inherently good. And more important, it's not a zero-sum trade-off between the two.

Unfortunately, it's buried under semi-coherent prose that rambles, circles, repeats, and ultimately goes nowhere. It takes entire chapters to convey simple ideas. He even gets tangled up in his own arguments, getting the punch line wrong at least once (i'm not sure if he meant to say 'reduces simplicity' or 'increases complexity', but the end result was 'increases simplicity', which was exactly the opposite of what he'd just shown).

He even gets some of the research wrong. It's well known that people will shop based on features.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Don Norman fans October 9, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Don Norman studies, analyzes, teaches, and writes about good design. He is a professor with an outstanding academic record and actual experience in industry, and something rarer still, the ability to communicate his insights. This is a good book, an important book, about the difference between 'complexity' and 'complicated'. Some tasks are complex -- like flying a B787 or written language -- but the resulting interaction with humans doesn't have to be overly complicated. On the other hand, some designs -- like coffee makers or commercial toilet paper dispensers -- take a task that ain't that complex and make it crazy complicated. Good design isn't just ergonomic in the sense of being the right size for human hands, good design is ergonomic is the sense of being right for the way human brains work. Norman offers here the excellent example of the old VCR compared to a TiVo box. The computer in the TiVo box is very complex, but the task of recording Letterman is so much less complicated.

Unfortunately this isn't Norman's best book. If you are interested in the general ideas, the classic introduction is The Design of Everyday Things. This book seems a little too quickly written, and would have benefited with more time and attention. I'd like to have seen more detailed in-depth examples, or maybe a more developed thematic organization of the issues. If however, you know you like this subject, then pretty much anything Norman writes is worth your time to read. I hope you find this review useful.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With Apologies to Thoreau November 21, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Donald Norman makes the point in 'Living with Complexity' that complex technology is an inevitable part of our lives and we wouldn't have it any other way.

That may sound counterintuitive to anyone who's ever cursed their remote control or slammed a computer mouse, but it's true. All things being equal, people nearly always choose a feature-rich item over a less-featured alternative. We market products by stressing new features that provide ever more functionality along with, inevitably, more complexity. I doubt a software vendor has ever touted their latest release as, 'containing even fewer features than our prior version'.

We all want functionality in our cars, software, and household appliances. We want the convenience of automated services and the ability to carry our electronic lives around in the palms of our hands. But we also want all of this technology to be understandable and this is the challenge of 'human-centered' design, as Norman calls it.

The problem is, too often, technology frustrates and confounds, not because of its inherent complexity, but because of poor design that neglects or disregards human behavior. People routinely and successfully drive cars, purchase tickets from kiosks, fly aircraft, and use complex graphics and audio software, demonstrating it's possible to design advanced technology in such a way that promotes effective learning and use.

In contrast, even simple technology such as salt and pepper shakers can be confusing if their contents are not easily distinguished. It's not a question of equating the importance of applying salt to flying a plane; it's the cumulative effect of living in a world where technologies of all stripes often appear indifferent or adversarial rather than assistive and even `social'.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Excellent book for case of study as design based research , and as a complement for architect night stand bookshelf
Published 2 months ago by benjamin larrondo
3.0 out of 5 stars Great content. not too great presentation.
The book is written in very fashion which masks the sheer brilliance of most of the observation in the book.
Published 10 months ago by George S. Bethel
2.0 out of 5 stars Under better Circumstances
Donald A. Norman's Living with Complexity was an ok read for me. I read the book for a class and typically when I am forced to read a book it doesn't end with me loving the book. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Kendall Barton
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! I look at things differently!
This is a fascinating look at how good design can make everything work better, and how bad design needlessly complicates things. Simple isn't easy or even appropriate. Read more
Published 17 months ago by K. B. Fenner
5.0 out of 5 stars KISS- Keep it simple stupid
It goes beyond saying that Donald Norman knows his stuff and this book once again proves it. He continues to amaze me with his insightful look how we humans handle complexity or... Read more
Published 19 months ago by David Coates
4.0 out of 5 stars From UI to UX
When I rode the New York subway as a kid, you could always tell the locals from the tourists. The locals knew exactly where to wait - right where the subway car doors were going to... Read more
Published 19 months ago by ringo
5.0 out of 5 stars another great book by Donald Norman
Well written, understandable and yet with high-class content. Read it! And apply Norman's suggestions! A must have for all designers.
Published 20 months ago by Wiebo Lamain
3.0 out of 5 stars An orienting resource
Buy if: you want an orienting resource for thinking about design. Don't buy if: you want a technical manual or academic analysis.
Published 20 months ago by Pulp
5.0 out of 5 stars Complexity and us
A wonderful trip to the complexity world and very, very interesting explanations about the causes of complexity in our lives and its outcomes.
Published on March 13, 2012 by Ema
4.0 out of 5 stars Remake, remodel
When I first selected this book, I did so on the basis of the title alone without reading the accompanying text. Read more
Published on December 1, 2011 by Junglies
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Don Norman is a voyeur, always watching, always on the lookout for some common-day occurrence that everyone else takes for granted but that when examined, yields insight into the human condition. (If you are rushing to catch a train, how do you know if you got to the station on time? Empty platform? You probably are too late. People milling about, looking at their watches,peering down the tracks? Probably OK. Who needs technology when people are so informative, even if as an accidental byproduct of their activities.

Business Week has named him one of "the world's most influential designers," the influence from his books, essasys, courses and students, lectures, and consulting.

He takes special delight in the interaction of people and technology. "Develop the skill of observation," he councils: especially pay attention to the obvious. "Question the obvious and you will dis cover many hidden insights. What seems to be obvious often is not."

He is a fellow of many organizations and former lots of things, including VP at Apple Computer and even President of a startup. He has honorary degrees from the University of Padua (Italy) and the Technical University Delft (the Netherlands). He was awarded the Benjamin Franklin medal in Computer and Cognitive Science and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is known for his books "The Design of Everyday Things," "Emotional Design," and "The Design of Future Things," but he is most proud of his students, now all over the world, who put into practice his human-centered design philosophy. his latest book is "Living with Complexity," which argues that complexity is necessary: Our tools must match our tasks. When people cry out for simplicity, they are wrong -- people want understanding. That is not the same as simplicity -- simple thing are often the most confusing.

He is currently revising "Design of Everyday Things" to keep the message the same but update the examples. Expected publication date is August 2013.

He lives at www.jnd.org, where you can find chapters from his books and loads of essays.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Forums

There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 


Look for Similar Items by Category