The Design of Everyday Things - Summary and Key Ideas

The book The Design of Everyday Things (1988) is about how good design can make our lives easier and more enjoyable. Don Norman shows how to create products that are intuitive to use and how to avoid frustration and confusion caused by bad design.

This book is a perfect read for individuals that are interested in design and want to learn how to create products that are intuitive and easy to use. It is especially useful for designers, engineers, and anyone involved in the creation of everyday objects.

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The Design of Everyday Things

Key ideas


People blame themselves when products are hard to use


Design should prioritize user experience over aesthetics

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Affordances are the possible actions a user can take

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Signifiers are visual cues that indicate how a product works

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Feedback is necessary to inform users of their actions

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Constraints limit the possible interactions with a product

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Mapping is the relationship between controls and their effects

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Mental models are users' understanding of how a product works

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Designers should conduct usability testing with real users

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Errors are often the result of poor design, not user error

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Good design requires collaboration between designers and users

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Technology should adapt to users, not the other way around

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Summary & Review

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman is a fascinating book that challenges our assumptions about design and its role in our daily lives. The author argues that good design is not just about aesthetics or function, but about creating products and environments that are intuitive, user-friendly, and enhance our overall well-being.

Don Norman

Don Norman is a prominent cognitive psychologist and designer. He is known for his work in the field of human-centered design and user experience. Norman has worked for companies like Apple and HP, and has also taught at universities such as Harvard and Northwestern. He is a proponent of design thinking and has written extensively on the subject. Norman continues to be an influential figure in the world of design and technology.

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