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Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things Paperback – May 11, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Techno author Norman, a professor of computer science and cofounder of a consulting firm that promotes human-centered products, extends the range of his earlier work, The Design of Everyday Things, to include the role emotion plays in consumer purchases. According to Norman, human decision making is dependent on both conscious cognition and affect (conscious or subconscious emotion). This combination is why, for example, a beautiful set of old mechanical drawing instruments greatly appealed to Norman and a colleague: they evoked nostalgia (emotion), even though they both knew the tools were not practical to use (cognition). Human reaction to design exists on three levels: visceral (appearance), behavioral (how the item performs) and reflective. The reflective dimension is what the product evokes in the user in terms of self-image or individual satisfaction. Norman's analysis of the design elements in products such as automobiles, watches and computers will pique the interest of many readers, not just those in the design or technology fields. He explores how music and sound both contribute negatively or positively to the design of electronic equipment, like the ring of a cell phone or beeps ("Engineers wanted to signal that some operation had been done.... The result is that all of our equipment beeps at us"). Norman's theories about how robots (referred to here as emotional machines) will interact with humans and the important jobs they will perform are intriguing, but weigh down an already complex text.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Computer science professor Norman also advises design firms. He brings his background in academics and business to bear on the emotional valence surrounding objects of daily use, be they kitchen utensils, automobiles, or a football coach's headset. Norman's analysis of people's emotional reactions to material objects is a delightful process, replete with surprises for readers who have rarely paused to consider why they like or loathe their belongings. He breaks down emotional reactions into three parts, labeled "visceral," "behavioral," and "reflective," asserting that "a successful design has to excel at all levels." Norman's examples of items ranging from bottles to hand tools fulfill this dictum, although he feels that designers do not often take emotion into account when formulating what an object should look like. With household robots on the horizon, Norman implores designers to redeem their mistakes in designing personal computers. His readers will take away insights galore about why shoppers say, "I want that." Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Herbert A. Simon
"An interesting exception to these problems comes when designers or engineers are building something for themselves that they will frequently use in their own everyday lives. Such products tend to excel. As a result, the best products today, from a behavioral point of view, are often those that come from the athletic, sports, and craft industries, because these products do get designed, purchased, and used by people who put behavior above everything else. Go to a good hardware store and examine the hand tools used by gardeners, woodworkers, and machinists. These tools, developed over centuries of use, are carefully designed to feel good, to be balanced, to give precise feedback, and to perform well. Go to a good outfitter’s shop and look at a mountain climber’s tools or at the tents and backpacks used by serious hikers and campers. Or go to a professional chef’s supply house and examine what real chefs buy and use in their kitchens."
Norman, Don (2007-03-20). Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things (p. 82). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.
"Engineers and other logical people tend to dismiss the visceral
response as irrelevant. Engineers are proud of the inherent quality of their work and dismayed when inferior products sell better “just because they look better.” But all of us make these kinds of judgments, even those very logical engineers. That’s why they love some of their tools and dislike others. Visceral responses matter."
The book starts well and comes straight to the point of Norman's main theory: design perception happens on a visceral, behavioural and a reflective level. He then continues with his explanation of what that means for design. This is all pretty good stuff, and although it's quite theoretical, it's easy to see that there is a lot of clever thinking involved. This theory is the reason why I gave the book 3 stars and not 2 - students of design should be acquainted with this theory, and I'm a strong believer in students hearing theories from the horse's mouth. However, I would then continue to recommend reading it until examples and predictions of the future start, and then simply put the book down and tell everybody you've read the whole thing. Nobody will challenge you on that.
This book, like its predecessors, is a fast read. It is written at a low level and nothing in it is too hard to grasp. However, it is too long. I found myself skipping whole paragraphs simply because Normas was repeating something he had written just a few sentences back. I feel the book could be half its length and not lose any content.
It's also not as inspirational as his previous books. There were none of the "a ha!" insights that permeated The Design of Everyday Things or Turn Signals Are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles.
Still, it's a good read. The next time I'm in the store, I'll be more cognizant of the reasons why I prefer one brand over another of otherwise identical products.
The only problem I really had with this book, was Norman's obsession with robots. The robot section gets a little agonizing to read through, especially with his unsubstantiated claim that they must have human-like emotions. Though his definition of 'robot emotions' technically drifts from that of our own, calling it that is just too close to the general term.
If there's one thing I don't need, it's an angry robot.
Otherwise though, I found it helpful to my work and enjoyable to read.