Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Emotional Design

Donald Norman's book Emotional Design is another treatment of many topics covered in his original book The Design of Everyday Things, but from a new point of view—that of a reluctant technologist. He seems to track back over many of his original principles simply because he seems to thing now all things are based on emotion.

Within the book itself, Norman finds time to explain the asthetics he now proclaims--including the design terms dressed in new clothes: visceral, behavioral, and reflective. These mirror (in design terms) the classical ABCs of attitude (affect, behavior, and cognition). He also goes into "emotional machines" and applies these three design terms to them.

While he does go through a through explanation of the changes in thought on design, I find this to be a long based collorary on rehashed points. The whole series of Norman books could have been condensed further. This book could be culled to its focus affect, behavior, and cognition and their effects on design. Ultimately, I was quite disappointed with the text. I do appreciate the updated view on design though. Emotion does matter, and the emotions I have from this book is possibly between Jacques Carelman's "Coffeepot for Masochists" and Michael Graves's "Nanna" teapot. At first it looks like it's self-defeating but in the end (after quite a bit of reflective time) it is another charming Norman read.

Indeed, in the end, we are all designers.

I commented on Ben Carsten's, Tyler Henning's, and J. Chris Elgin's blogs.


  1. Well, it could've been worse, but I honestly thought his one wasn't so bad. Still, I did have some disagreements with the author as I read through the book myself.

  2. I feel that emotion determines the marketing success of a product and not necessarily the users satisfaction with the problem. However the placebo effect could explain why emotion can make users think that something functions better just by the way that it looks.