The Design of Everyday Things Book Cover

The Design of Everyday Things

The Cognitive Psychology of Good Design
Publishing Year: 1988
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Many of us have felt incapable at times over the most insignificant things, such as opening a water bottle cap or a door. Almost always we think little of ourselves when faced with such situations. However, is it really our fault that a design that should be simple, isn't? As much as we blame our stupidity for failing at a simple task, it may be that the design is too complicated. The Design of Everyday Things is a genius book that describes how it is the Product's job to make our life easier, and not complicate it further. The dissertation further talks about how right action, effort, and control at the right time can help us achieve our goals.

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Lesson 1- The Product is at Fault for Being Difficult

We often struggle to figure out a new device, be it a new dog leash, a new application, a remote contol, and so much more. No matter how much we blame ourselves for our incapabilities, it is in reality a shortcoming from the product's side. To be more precise, the shortcoming is the bad design of the product. 

For instance, think of a camera, its primary purpose is to take pictures. Additionally, there are settings to customise according to an atmosphere and work, along with that connect with other devices. To accomodate all these features, the designers add a lot more buttons and switches, making the device significantly difficult to figure out. 

Now, the question that is most pertinent to this situation, is why do these bad designs pass? Perhaps one can blame the rapid growth of technology. The need to have everything at once has taken over the basic purposes and thus, the device is being filled with features till it flows over.  

For instance the camera that was discussed earlier, apart from the basic function of it taking a picture, many other features such as connecting with other devices and adding customisations have sprung up. Making the device overly complicated as opposed to the simplicity it presented when it was initially launched. 

It is exceedingly difficult for innovators to keep up with the pace at which technology is growing, so more often than not, some designs come up that do the exact opposite of making our lives easier. This is why it is essential that innovators bear in mind the customer's needs. Otherwise the product is practically useless for everyone. 

 

Lesson 2- A Good Design Guides Its Users

Every product we use usually comes with an instruction manual, to help us navigate through the workings of the product. However, if we have to go over every page to figure one step after another, it is the product that is at fault. It is not normal for a product to be so complicated that figuring it out seems like one is studying for an exam. It is actually the contrary, products are supposed to be easy to use and understand. 

The solution to this is simple. The products need to come with straightforward directions, instead of overcomplicated guidelines. Even an easy task as pressing a button at an ATM comes with instructions for easy experience. So if it is an experience that wins the users over, making it as simple as possible for them is the way to go. 

 

Lesson 3- The Usability

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About the author

Donald A. Norman Image

Donald A. Norman, a cognitive scientist and design advocate, reshapes user experience understanding. He champions user-centred design principles, enhancing product usability. Norman’s work intertwines psychology and design, advocating for intuitive, h...

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The Design of Everyday Things Book Cover
Chapter List
  • Lesson 1- The Product is at Fault for Being Difficult
  • Lesson 2- A Good Design Guides Its Users
  • Lesson 3- The Usability of a Product Lies in the Psychology of the Users
  • Lesson 4- Understanding Root Cause and Rectifying Bad Design
  • Lesson 5- Constraints can Benefit a Good Design 
  • Lesson 6- How the Device Communicates with Customers
  • Lesson 7- The Need for Human Centric Designs
  • Lesson 8- Cooperation is the Key Factor in the Success of a Product
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FAQs

In the summary of The Design of Everyday Things book, there are 8 key lessons. These lessons include:

  1. Lesson 1- The Product is at Fault for Being Difficult
  2. Lesson 2- A Good Design Guides Its Users
  3. Lesson 3- The Usability of a Product Lies in the Psychology of the Users
  4. Lesson 4- Understanding Root Cause and Rectifying Bad Design
  5. Lesson 5- Constraints can Benefit a Good Design 
  6. Lesson 6- How the Device Communicates with Customers
  7. Lesson 7- The Need for Human Centric Designs
  8. Lesson 8- Cooperation is the Key Factor in the Success of a Product

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman was published in 1988.

Once you've completed The Design of Everyday Things book, We suggest reading out What’s next in Gaming as a great follow-up read.

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In the printed version of The Design of Everyday Things book have over 300 pages and usually takes 8-10 days to finish. However, with the Wizdom app, including its summary and audiobook, it can be completed in just 15 minutes.

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