Thursday, January 29, 2009

"The Design of Everyday Things": A Review

Posted comment on George's blog and Drew's blog

Donald Norman's book The Design of Everyday Things turned out to be an exciting and thought-provoking read. Although going into a repetitive cycle of discussion. He takes a deliberately non-technological focus in his book. And, though dated (1980's), the information is as crisp, refreshing and pertinent today as it was when ink was pressed into the pages of its first edition. He takes the reader on a survey (describing psychological points along the way) of good designs but also bad ones. The book closes with a justified look at user-centered design and a summary of good length to remember: fads change but good design remains timeless.

As I mentioned before, the reading got to be a tad repetitive as little was substantially added towards the end of the book, but in all I found the examples of design (and bad design) to be spot on. Who knew a teapot could be so laughingly designed? I found myself to be looking at everyday things much more with a critical eye after reading this book. I began to stop more and think: what's wrong (or right) with this picture? How is this improvable? In the end, looking at the bad designs of things can give you more answers of how to do it right than most well-designed items. Counter-intuitive as this supposition may be, it's important to learn from past mistakes than trying to reinvent the square wheel...and realizing it won't roll down the hill.

So, in closing, I think the author did what he accomplished to do at the start—provoke thinking of objects and their required actions and have the reader think: how can we improve that?

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