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The Design of Everyday Things MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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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 text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The author pushes a design paradigm that can be summarized as follows:
1. Make interaction simple, visible, and intuitive
2. Give users feedback to determine if their actions have produced the desired effect
3. Make mistakes easily correctable or entirely avoidable
4. Force interaction when necessary (ie only make a cartridge one-way insertable)
5. Simplify and standardize operation
Those design principles are, by and large, timeless. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this thesis. Unfortunately, the book is simply a product of its time. Perhaps a 2010's-era update would help fix this issue.
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.
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.