Designing For People

father of user-centered design

Don Norman is cofounder of the Nielsen Norman Group, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, IDEO fellow, and former Vice President of Apple. He helps companies make products more enjoyable, understandable, and profitable. 
Donald Arthur Norman lives several lives: Company advisor and board member; Keynote speaker; Author of books and columns.

Was born December 25, 1935 and is an academic in the field of cognitive science, design and usability engineering and a co-founder and consultant with the Nielsen Norman Group. He is the author of the book The Design of Everyday Things.

Much of Norman’s work involves the advocacy of user-centered design. His books all have the underlying purpose of furthering the field of design, from doors to computers. Norman has recently taken a controversial stance in saying that the design research community has had little impact in the innovation of products, and that whereas academics can help in refining existing products, it is technologists that accomplish the breakthroughs.

Norman splits his time between co-directing the dual-degree MBA and Engineering program at Northwestern University and consulting with theNielsen Norman Group. Norman announced that he would no longer teach full-time after the 2009-2010 academic year.

Don Normans website: http://www.jnd.org

Don Normans twitter: @jnd1er



The Design of Everyday Things, Revised and Expanded Edition

Published: 2013

What has changed from the earlier book? A lot. The preface explains why the book was revised and then, chapter by chapter, what has changed. Summary: The world has changed a lot in the 25 years since the book was written. I have learned a lot. So the science is unchanged (except for the addition of “signifiers,” but the examples are completely new, as is the understanding of how these ideas get implemented. The last two chapters are completely new. For details read the preface. (Click on the link above or just below.)


  1. Psychopathology of Everyday Things
  2. The Psychology of Everyday Actions
  3. Knowledge in the Head and in the World
  4. Knowing What to Do: Constraints, Discoverability, and Feedback
  5. Human Error? No, Bad Design
  6. Design Thinking
  7. Design in the World of Business

Living with complexity

Published: May 2010

If only today’s technology were simpler! It’s the universal lament, but it’s wrong. We don’t want simplicity. Simple tools are not up to the task. The world is complex; our tools need to match that complexity. Simplicity turns out to be more complex than we thought. In this provocative and informative book, Don Norman writes that the complexity of our technology must mirror the complexity and richness of our lives. It’s not complexity that’s the problem, it’s bad design. Bad design complicates things unnecessarily and confuses us. Good design can tame complexity.Norman gives us a crash course in the virtues of complexity. But even such simple things as salt and pepper shakers, doors, and light switches become complicated when we have to deal with many of them, each somewhat different. Managing complexity, says Norman, is a partnership. Designers have to produce things that tame complexity. But we too have to do our part: we have to take the time to learn the structure and practice the skills. This is how we mastered reading and writing, driving a car, and playing sports, and this is how we can master our complex tools. Complexity is good. Simplicity is misleading. The good life is complex, rich, and rewarding–but only if it is understandable, sensible, and meaningful.

The Design of Future Things

Published: 2007

In The Design of Future Things, best-selling author Donald A. Norman presents a revealing examination of smart technology, from smooth-talking GPS units to cantankerous refrigerators. Exploring the links between design and human psychology, he offers a consumer-oriented theory of natural human-machine interaction that can be put into practice by the engineers and industrial designers of tomorrow’s thinking machines. A fascinating look at the perils and promise of the intelligent objects of the future, The Design of Future Things is a must-read for anyone interested in the dawn of a new era in technology.

Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things

Published: 2004

Did you ever wonder why cheap wine tastes better in fancy glasses? Why sales of Macintosh computers soared when Apple introduced the colorful iMac? New research on emotion and cognition has shown that attractive things really do work better, as Donald Norman amply demonstrates in this fascinating book, which has garnered acclaim everywhere from Scientific American to The New Yorker.Emotional Design articulates the profound influence of the feelings that objects evoke, from our willingness to spend thousands of dollars on Gucci bags and Rolex watches, to the impact of emotion on the everyday objects of tomorrow.Norman draws on a wealth of examples and the latest scientific insights to present a bold exploration of the objects in our everyday world. Emotional Design will appeal not only to designers and manufacturers but also to managers, psychologists, and general readers who love to think about their stuff.


The book pops with fresh paradigms, applying scientific rigor to our romance with the inanimate. You’ll never see housewares the same way again. – Wired Magazine. (January, 2004)

The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things (DOET) was first published in 1988. The book is about how people interact with technology. The principles of interaction are mostly unchanged — they still apply today.  But the technology is very different. Time to revise. Hence DOET2.I did a thorough revision. I updated all the examples, provided new photographs and drawings, and did a better job of explaining many of the concepts. In 25 years I have learned a lot, as has the field of design. I incorporate the principles of emotional design into DOET2. The last two chapters are new, explaining the problems of design in the practical world of business, competition, and the need for the company to be profitable. The design team has multiple constraints and challenges, a major one being what I call “Norman’s law.” The day the product team is established, it is behind schedule and over its budget.

The revised and expanded paperback will be available November 5.


Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault lies in product design that ignore the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. A bestseller in the United States, this bible on the cognitive aspects of design contains examples of both good and bad design and simple rules that designers can use to improve the usability of objects as diverse as cars, computers, doors, and telephones.



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