• Author: Don Norman
  • Full Title: The Design of Everyday Things


Two of the most important characteristics of good Design are discoverability and understanding. (Location 317)review

with industrial designers emphasizing form and material, interactive designers emphasizing understandability and usability, and experience designers emphasizing the emotional impact. (Location 346)review

Industrial design: The professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value, and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer (from the Industrial Design Society of America’s website). (Location 348)review

Interaction design: The focus is upon how people interact with technology. The goal is to enhance people’s understanding of what can be done, what is happening, and what has just occurred. Interaction design draws upon principles of psychology, design, art, and emotion to ensure a positive, enjoyable experience. (Location 351)review

Experience design: The practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus placed on the quality and enjoyment of the total experience. (Location 354)review

Design is concerned with how things work, how they are controlled, and the nature of the interaction between people and technology. (Location 356)review

common sense; that is, a lot of valuable knowledge built up over years of experience. (Location 363)review - Note: We often criticize children for lackking common sense, but they havent been given an opportunity to build up this experience.

It is the duty of machines and those who design them to understand people. It is not our duty to understand the arbitrary, meaningless dictates of machines. (Location 369)review

Engineers are trained to think logically. As a result, they come to believe that all people must think this way, and they design their machines accordingly. (Location 377)review

I used to be an engineer, focused upon technical requirements, quite ignorant of people. (Location 381)review - Note: I think my issue with technical requirements is they distract from the engineer thinking about the user, what they are ttying to do abd their scenario and try to boil that down into a handful of boxes to check. The scenarios are beautiful and complex. Enable the engineer to use their empathy.

“You are designing for people the way you would like them to be, not for the way they really are.” (Location 396)review - Note: Our designs should meet our audience where they are. This is why Dorsata has to be intuitive.

even experts make errors. So we must design our machines on the assumption that people will make errors. (Location 398)review

Designers need to focus their attention on the cases where things go wrong, not just on when things work as planned. Actually, this is where the most satisfaction can arise: when something goes wrong but the machine highlights the problems, then the person understands the issue, takes the proper actions, and the problem is solved. (Location 416)review - Note: If Dorsata let users know what aspect of syncing failed they would be more likely to recover and this would be less likely to be a significant interruption.

Human-centered design is a design philosophy. It means starting with a good understanding of people and the needs that the design is intended to meet. This understanding comes about primarily through observation, for people themselves are often unaware of their true needs, even unaware of the difficulties they are encountering. (Location 432)review

Perceived affordances help people figure out what actions are possible without the need for labels or instructions. I call the signaling component of affordances signifiers. (Location 496)review

Affordances determine what actions are possible. Signifiers communicate where the action should take place. (Location 514)review

Poor feedback can be worse than no feedback at all, because it is distracting, uninformative, and in many cases irritating and anxiety-provoking. (Location 688)review

Machines that give too much feedback are like backseat drivers. (Location 693)review

“Why is that the goal?” Why was I reading? I was trying to prepare a meal using a new recipe, so I needed to reread it before I started. Reading was thus a subgoal. But cooking was itself a subgoal. I was cooking in order to eat, which had the goal of satisfying my hunger. So the hierarchy of goals is roughly: satisfy hunger; eat; cook; read cookbook; get more light. This is called a root cause analysis: asking “Why?” until the ultimate, fundamental cause of the activity is reached. (Location 997) Root Cause Analysis

Most innovation is done as an incremental enhancement of existing products. (Location 1018)review

Conscious attention is necessary to learn most things, but after the initial learning, continued practice and study, sometimes for thousands of hours over a period of years, produces what psychologists call “overlearning,” Once skills have been overlearned, performance appears to be effortless, done automatically, with little or no awareness. (Location 1049)review

For designers, the visceral response is about immediate perception: the pleasantness of a mellow, harmonious sound or the jarring, irritating scratch of fingernails on a rough surface. Here is where the style matters: appearances, whether sound or sight, touch or smell, drive the visceral response. This has nothing to do with how usable, effective, or understandable the product is. It is all about attraction or repulsion. Great designers use their aesthetic sensibilities to drive these visceral responses. (Location 1165)review

Feedback—knowledge of results—is how expectations are resolved and is critical to learning and the development of skilled behavior. (Location 1192)review

The highest levels of emotions come from the reflective level, for it is here that causes are assigned and where predictions of the future take place. Adding causal elements to experienced events leads to such emotional states as guilt and pride (when we assume ourselves to be the cause) and blame and praise (when others are thought to be the cause). (Location 1202)review

When in the flow state, people lose track of time and the outside environment. They are at one with the task they are performing. The task, moreover, is at just the proper level of difficulty: difficult enough to provide a challenge and require continued attention, but not so difficult that it invokes frustration and anxiety. (Location 1247)review

The phenomenon called learned helplessness might help explain the self-blame. It refers to the situation in which people experience repeated failure at a task. As a result, they decide that the task cannot be done, at least not by them: they are helpless. They stop trying. (Location 1361)review

We need to remove the word failure from our vocabulary, replacing it instead with learning experience. To fail is to learn: we learn more from our failures than from our successes. With success, sure, we are pleased, but we often have no idea why we succeeded. With failure, it is often possible to figure out why, to ensure that it will never happen again. (Location 1387)review

One design firm, IDEO, has it as a creed: “Fail often, fail fast,” they say, for they know that each failure teaches them a lot about what to do right. (Location 1393)review

If designers and researchers do not sometimes fail, it is a sign that they are not trying hard enough—they are not thinking the great creative thoughts that will provide breakthroughs in how we do things. It is possible to avoid failure, to always be safe. (Location 1396)review

•  Do not blame people when they fail to use your products properly.        •  Take people’s difficulties as signifiers of where the product can be improved. (Location 1400)review

Eliminate all error messages from electronic or computer systems. Instead, provide help and guidance. (Location 1404)review

The designer’s first response was: “Why did you make that error? Didn’t you read the manual?” (Location 1422)review - Note: If the workflow was built correctly, we wouldn’t need a manual.

designers should take special pains to make errors as cost-free as possible. (Location 1443)review

Machines are not people. They can’t communicate and understand the same way we do. This means that their designers have a special obligation to ensure that the behavior of machines is understandable to the people who interact with them. (Location 1450)review

Many machines are programmed to be very fussy about the form of input they require, where the fussiness is not a requirement of the machine but due to the lack of consideration for people in the design of the software. In other words: inappropriate programming. (Location 1500)review

One of my self-imposed rules is, “Don’t criticize unless you can do better.” Try to understand how the faulty design might have occurred: try to determine how it could have been done otherwise. Thinking about the causes and possible fixes to bad design should make you better appreciate good design. (Location 1573)review

People function through their use of two kinds of knowledge: knowledge of and knowledge how. Knowledge of—what psychologists call declarative knowledge—includes the knowledge of facts and rules. … Knowledge how—what psychologists call procedural knowledge—is the knowledge that enables a person to be a skilled musician, to return a serve in tennis, or to move the tongue properly when saying the phrase “frightening witches.” Procedural knowledge is difficult or impossible to write down and difficult to teach. It is best taught by demonstration and best learned through practice. … Procedural knowledge is largely subconscious, residing at the behavioral level of processing. (Location 1656)review

What gets confused depends heavily upon history: the aspects that have allowed us to distinguish among the objects in the past. When the rules for discrimination change, people can become confused and make errors. With time, they will adjust and learn to discriminate just fine and may even forget the initial period of confusion. The problem is that in many circumstances, especially one as politically charged as the size, shape, and color of currency, the public’s outrage prevents calm discussion and does not allow for any adjustment time. (Location 1725)review

Well-learned skills bypass the need for conscious oversight and control: conscious control is only required for initial learning and for dealing with unexpected situations. (Location 2053)review

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. (Alfred North Whitehead, 1911.) (Location 2059)review - Note: Do the same with your daily activities and processes. Templates can be helpful here.

Science deals in truth, practice deals with approximations. Practitioners don’t need truth: they need results relatively quickly that, although inaccurate, are “good enough” for the purpose to which they will be applied. (Location 2062)review

Conceptual models are powerful explanatory devices, useful in a variety of circumstances. They do not have to be accurate as long as they lead to the correct behavior in the desired situation. (Location 2100)review

It is rare that we need to know the answers to complex arithmetic problems with great precision: almost always, a rough estimate is good enough. When precision is required, use a calculator. That’s what machines are good for: providing great precision. For most purposes, estimates are good enough. Machines should focus on solving arithmetic problems. People should focus on higher-level issues, such as the reason the answer was needed. (Location 2114)review

We can’t count on something being present in mind at any particular time, unless it is triggered by some external event or unless we deliberately keep it in mind through constant repetition (which then prevents us from having other conscious thoughts). Out of sight, out of mind. (Location 2250)review

Natural mappings are those where the relationship between the controls and the object to be controlled (the burners, in this case) is obvious. Depending upon circumstances, natural mappings will employ spatial cues. (Location 2326)review