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92 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, a seminal work of design psychology
Although this book is a product of the 1980's, its essential premise is not dated nor obsolete. Dr. Norman vividly illustrates the good and bad of design, and provides an excellent guidebook for the understanding of basic user-centric design in products, fixtures, software, and the everyday things that make up our world.
I highly recommend this book for anyone...
Published on August 4, 2000 by Michael F. Maddox

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Slightly Repetitive, and Just A Little Dated
I read this book (1989 edition) in 2001 after reading a lot of good and excellent reviews of the book on Amazon. I got a copy from the library and read the book over a couple of days.
Let me say that this book is an excellent read for anyone who has either suffered through modern (VCR, computers) and not so modern contraptions (doors) as well as for those who...
Published on October 16, 2001 by Abhinav Agarwal


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92 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, a seminal work of design psychology, August 4, 2000
Although this book is a product of the 1980's, its essential premise is not dated nor obsolete. Dr. Norman vividly illustrates the good and bad of design, and provides an excellent guidebook for the understanding of basic user-centric design in products, fixtures, software, and the everyday things that make up our world.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the design and creation of software, architecture, or consumer products. You will find some dated, quaint information within its pages, such as the descriptions of the "computer notepad" and hypertext (both of which came to fruition with Palm Computers and the Web), but, as a whole, the book is a collection of relevant, interesting material. It is an excellent starting point for the study of design.
For those interested in additional study on software and user interface design (programmers, such as I), I recommend Alan Cooper's books on user interface design, and ANY of Jakob Nielsen's books. In addition, the Edward Tufte trilogy on visual representations is extremely good, although not software-specific.
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93 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Design for everyday Human Behavior, September 12, 2002
By 
Jeffrey Sauro (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This is one of the seminal works in the field of User Centered Design. Norman wrote this book well before the Windows operating system was as familiar as the Golden Arches--which only reinforces the idea that certain basic usability principles transcend all forms of objects--from glass doors to Windows Explorer.
Norman does a great job of describing why and how we successfully and unsuccessfully use everyday objects with relevant anecdotes. His stories are usually accompanied with lists of principles that explain good design and account for human behavior. For example, the fundamental principals of designing for people are to: Provide a good conceptual model, make controls visible and to constantly provide feedback to the user.
So how does one employ good user-centered design? Norman recapitulates his points at the end of the book by listing the seven UCD principles for transforming difficult tasks into easy ones:
1. Use both knowledge in the world and in the head
2. Simplify the structure of tasks
3. Make things visible
4. Get the mappings right
5. Exploit the powers of constraints-Natural & Artificial
6. Design for Error
7. When all else fails, standardize
It's mandatory reading for any usability software engineer but also an interesting and well written book for anyone who's ever pushed a "pull door" or scalded themselves in the shower (which is all of us).
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The difference between designers and users, May 9, 2000
By 
frumiousb "frumiousb" (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Let me start by acknowledging that the book is not perfect. The end notes are annoying and Norman can have a tendancy to ramble and I guess that not everyone would find that charming. However, I assert that the strengths of the book more than make up for its weaknesses-- it is an important book, and one that anyone engaged in designing things for other people should read.
The central point is simple-- the needs of the user are different from the needs of the designer. The designer might want everyone's actions with his system to be precise, the user might need to have a "good enough" range of precision approximation. The designer wants to make the knobs the same so they look good together, the user wants to be able to tell quickly which knob applies to which function. It's a basic concept that can't (particularly on the Internet today) be repeated often enough.
Norman looks at the kinds of errors people make in usage and discusses how designers can plan to prevent these kind of errors. He discusses some of the basic things that users find valuable and walks the reader through some classic (and often funny, because so recognizable) design errors.
The writing is clean and (with the exception of the aforementioned rambling) very clear. Norman's voice is full of humor and a real passion for the subject, and that voice is conveyed very well by the book.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Universal Examples of Good (and Bad) Design, January 6, 2000
When I started my first job out of college I was given a copy of this book by my boss. Since then, I've had a chance to do GUI design for the web as well as client/server applications. This book has proven invaluable. It completely changed the way I thought about design and usability. The examples given show how everything can (and should) be made more usable... every time I turn on the wrong burner on my stove, or pull on a door I should be pushing I curse the designer who should have read this. The examples may not be specifically about computer user interface design, but the lessons learned are directly applicable.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Slightly Repetitive, and Just A Little Dated, October 16, 2001
I read this book (1989 edition) in 2001 after reading a lot of good and excellent reviews of the book on Amazon. I got a copy from the library and read the book over a couple of days.
Let me say that this book is an excellent read for anyone who has either suffered through modern (VCR, computers) and not so modern contraptions (doors) as well as for those who actually design these things. The author has used many, many examples to drive, no, hammer the point accross that most everyday appliances that we use are (a)Not well thought designs, (b)Form seems to precede function, (c)Difficulty in using a product seems more often than not the fault of the end-user.

The book therefore is a fascinating read on how so many bright people can come up with so many not so bright designs. The book is not too big, so can be read in a relatively short period of time.

There are faults with the book too - in trying to drive home the point that many everyday things are poorly designed, the author becomes repetitive. Even with a gentle style of writing and criticism the book at times reads like a litany of complaints. And some of the author's suggestions as to what he thinks might be good design examples I couldn't agree with whole heartedly - eg. he thinks a computer mouse should not have 2 buttons, one might do.

Overall, the book is a must read. I can suggest for those who wish to read something similar but deals more with computers and modern electronics a couple of books by Alan Cooper - 'About Face' and 'The Inmates Are Running The Asylum', as well as most books by Steve McConnell.
One interesting note - the author in 1989 states that the computing power to put a small computer in one's plam was there, and within 10 years he expected such a device to become perfect. That would mean 1999. We had the Palm 3 and 5 in 1999. Perfect? Maybe not. But what strikes me is that the author in 1989 could think to give the technology 10 years to mature.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Has drawbacks, but shines nonetheless, December 20, 1999
I agree with another reviewer who said that he found the material rather dated. It is.
However, I found some of that dated material fascinating -- the author's discussion of hypertext systems before the Web ever existed, the author's predictions/descriptions of handheld computers before the Palm organizers ever existed, etc.
Also, many of the "boring everyday examples" that another reviewer hated (such as doors, legos, stoves, faucets, and so on) were exactly what I needed. For example, a discussion of an ice cream menu helped me immensely with a corporate Web site I maintain. That's because the author went into detail about "decision trees" and how people handle lists of information.
In chapter 5, the discussion about the differences between "slips" and "mistakes" (which I thought were the same) will help me build better user interfaces, because I now know why people have problems with some interfaces, and how to resolve those problems.
I had also never heard of "forcing functions." I've used forcing functions, but I didn't know I was using them, and I didn't have the concepts clear enough to make them effective.
In summary, the book is dated but good. Couple this book with a book like "Information Architecture For The World Wide Web" or "Web Site Usability" and an average Web designer could become an excellent Web designer.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST for product & tech designers, NOT graphic designers, December 22, 1998
Norman's work is THE book to start reading if you are 1) developing ANY kind of technology (e.g., web page, software program, etc.), or 2) beginning any tangible product design.
The book is easy reading, contains some key design concepts and is fun. It is not for artists or graphic designers. And for those who think that it is "rudimentary", just look at the products being designed today: car stereo buttons that you cannot reach, drink holders on car doors (don't slam that door), and VCRs that people cannot program.
This is the kind of book that you should hand out to everyone in your IT department for the Holidays.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very simply the best book for design people, December 20, 2000
By 
Cheffy "Chef" (online, or in a hallowed out tree) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've read through this book about three times now, and every time I read it, the light bulb goes on. I'm a sys admin by day, but a designer by night, so this book is an excellent source of the question, "Just why is the Internet so boring?" by delving deep into the design of everyday things, like doors, controls, etc.. I think it's excellent and would recommend it to anyone wanting to understand the psychology of why the design phase is so important over marketability.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Discussion of Design, December 30, 1999
As a designer of e-commerce systems, I constantly face the challenge of designing easy-to-use solutions. Until I read this book, I never understood how people inherently understand how to use something. I will be able to instantly apply the knowledge in this book to my work. Reviewers who criticize the book for being to simplistic, dated, or not involving technology are missing the point. It doesn't matter whether a design is for something physical or a computer interface. The point is that a user should be able to figure out how to use a new item with minimal instruction. This book explains how people figure things out, and how to incorporate design elements to lead users in the right direction and to help them to recover from slips/mistakes. Excellent book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining look at user-centered product design, May 17, 1996
By A Customer
As a computer software engineer, I have found two books that should be required reading for all developers. One is The Mythical Man-Month, Fred Brooks' classic study on project management. The other is this work by Donald Norman, the father of user-centered design. Through a series of simple yet powerful examples, Norman examines why some products are a pleasure to use while others lead to frustration and anxiety. The book uses objects as simple as refrigerators and faucets to explain how conceptual models, feedback, and physical and cultural constraints come together to produce a product design that is intuitive and comfortable to use. A subject that in less capable hands could be dry and academic instead comes alive under Norman's vivid style and entertaining anecdotes. This is a brilliant work, an absolutely essential reference, and a book that I find myself reading again and again
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