First glance at Donald Norman’s design theory

Three-level model of design is one theory of Norman. What are the three levels? I can’t help but curious: 1. the visceral design. Uhm, first hard word throw at me! 2. the behavioural design. 3. the reflective design. Each one goes a little further and deeper in the user experience (another term that Norman coined in the 90s).

In his book Design of Everyday things went on explaining that engineers are there for machines, but designers are for humans. Most poor designs come from those who don’t understand human.

One notorious example is the three-mile nuclear power plant accident. The accident was not caused by “human error” as immediate evaluation stated, rather by poorly designed control panels. In another word, with the design, accident was inevitable.

One common mistake for design beginners: things are designed too logical.

“You are being too logical,” Normal commented in the book, “You are designing for people the way you would like them to be, not for the way they really are.”

Another beloved passage from the first chapter:

Designers need to focus their attention on the cases where things go wrong, not just on when things work as planned.

In another word, to evaluate if it is a good design, try to look how it handles errors. (Same thing with app development, if errors are handled well, it really brings app/website to the next level).

I got a feeling during reading: if I just go to an app store and take a look at customer feedback under each product, I can get a general sense of what good design for products is. I bet it will well be in line of what Norman will say in the book. Let’s try to find time to do this :)

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