Thursday, September 29, 2005

Donald Norman

Donald Norman; Professor, author, former head of Apple Research Labs and (seemingly) all round nice bloke. His book, 'The Design of Everyday Things' deals with the psychology behind the usage of everyday objects. How do we use something? Is it clear how something should be used? Is it easy to make mistakes? Are these mistakes reversible, and if not, how come it is so easy to make them? One of my favourite sections in the book - To Err Is Human - is concerned with issues around people making errors. Norman reasons that if you use an object or interface in an incorrect manner, then it is not your fault but the failing of the designer. A tough call for us as designers, but a message that we should heed with great enthusiasm. He makes a number of logical observations that should really be post-it noted to any designer's monitor. Don't forget that as a designer, you already know how your product works, hence when you tested it, all was well. Give it to somebody else and... uh oh.

The book is well worth a read, it will open your mind up to concepts and ideas that may not have occured to you before and hopefully make you a better designer. It's an easy read too; informal style, quirky and often amusing... I'll be picking up some of his later titles in the future.

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