The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things
by Donald A. Norman

Doubleday (originally The Psychology of Everyday Things, Basic Books)
288 pp.
YA-P, GA **


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This book is a unique and an exemplary addition to our knowledge of cognitive science and human engineering. It describes a variety of products that have been designed so that in theory they could be easily used by the average consumer. However, many of these products have turned out to be so awkward and inefficient that even the most educated consumer is stymied, especially those devices replete with function keys or knobs, such as washing machines, stoves, and watches. If this book intended solely to detail poor product design, it would still be worth reading. Happily, the author takes the necessary next step and tells us how the design of some of these products can be improved to ease use. A book such as this should be required reading for those who design consumer products and especially for college students who may someday wish to do so. It also is an excellent source of information for the psychology student and others who would like to learn about how humans interact with their environments, especially that aspect created by product designers.

--Reviewed by Benjamin Wallace in Science Books and Films, 24/4 (March/April 1989), p. 237.