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The Design of Everyday Things Paperback – February 1, 1990
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Anyone who designs anything to be used by humans--from physical objects to computer programs to conceptual tools--must read this book, and it is an equally tremendous read for anyone who has to use anything created by another human. It could forever change how you experience and interact with your physical surroundings, open your eyes to the perversity of bad design and the desirability of good design, and raise your expectations about how things should be designed.
"This book is a joy -- fun and of the utmost importance." -- Tom Peters. -- Review
...makes a strong case for the needlessness of badly conceived and badly designed everyday objects...[T]his book may herald the beginning of a change in user habits and expectations, a change that manufacturers would be obliged to respond to. Button pushers of the world, unite. -- Los Angeles Times
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The explanations of the psychology behind product interaction are, to me, poorly organized and explained. Further, if you've read any psychology or behavioral economics before, there's little to be learned here.
Finally, the writing itself is fairly poor. I read nonfiction almost exclusively, so I don't think it's the technical nature of the content; it's just not very engaging. The personal anecdotes, as other reviews have noted, often feel forced and a little self-congratulatory. A better editor would have helped, too. There were quite a few instances of small annoyances such as using "less" where "fewer" was needed, or an overabundance of "as a result" towards the end.
It runs out of steam about halfway through, but the writing is good enough to carry it along to the end. If you're and engineer by trade, it's worth a read to get a better handle on how people will interact with your engineering. A designer could probably pass on it, though.
But that said, the book is genuinely interesting and insightful.
I would recommend any engineer read this book.
It will get you really thinking about user interface. I like the book because it is compassionate. It is a book concerned about making things work good for other people.
Also, the book would probably be of interest to people who like studying psychology. The psychology of how people use things is very subtle, but very profound at the same time. It is kind of like a little facet of human psychology that is so obvious - it is hidden in plain sight. So most people never see it or ponder it.
I stopped reading at about 70% of the way thru because the author seemed to be repeating himself.
I think the first two thirds of the book are worth it, though.
P.S. If you enjoy this book, I would recommend a podcast called 99% Invisible that is produced by Roman Mars.