Book Review: The Design of Everyday Things (Part I)

Enjoying a frappucino while starting DOET (The Design of Everyday things)

On my quest to higher learning in Human Centered design, I found this book on most blogs I’ve come across. Whitney Hess, a well-known User Experience Coach, once added this book to her library. A TED article included this to a list of Books to read on when you want to start your journey in the field of design.

What really made me want to read this book was the fact that this was originally published in 1988 under the title “The Psychology of Everyday Things” (POET) and had been recommended by most design institutes to study on for their students.

It reminded me of classic stories like those by Shakespeare and J.R.R. Tolkein which get a new version every year. What does DOET “The Design of Everyday Things” have and why did the author, Don Norman, create a new version for this?

Technology evolves quite rapidly. I am quite fortunate to have experienced using a Floppy disc, a game boy, a cassette tape and other gadgets that are considered obsolete now a days. POET’s (this is the first version of the book in 1988) examples were about the gadget that existed in 1980's, which I’m pretty sure people of today would need to research about to see what Don meant about how, where and why it is used. Among his reasons of having a new version was to add bits of information he learned from experience after the book was published, adding new terms like “human-centered design” and “User Experience”. Such terms have not been born during the time when the book was written. A big reason for this was to make sure the book talks in a language the reader of this century can understand. Using examples and products that the reader is familiar of.

Honestly, when I learned this was a revision from a book published in 1988, I was worried it might be give me outdated examples that I will need to do a lot of Goolging as I read the book.

The author promises to write a newer version for the book a few decades from now, where newer technologies will be born.

But what really makes this book special? A must read for those starting in the design industry?

As far as I have understood in the first few pages, it taught me how even the simplest product can be confusing to a user. Like a door. How can it be complicated? “Norman doors”.

And you never thought about that? Have you? Congratulations then. You haven’t experienced a badly designed door in your entire life. Well, I have. Especially the fridge doors in local stores.