Book Review: The Design of Everyday Things

For anyone even remotely interested in design, whether it be graphic design, product, design, user experience design, industrial design, etc., I HIGHLY recommend reading The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. I was drawn to this book because of Norman’s work in user experience design, but the principles discussed in this book apply to all facets of design. In The Design of Everyday Things, Norman addresses the key differences between good and bad design, how to promote the good, and how to avoid the bad. Reading this book will help you better understand why you’re drawn to certain products/websites/apps and the work that designers did to make you feel that way.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the way in which Norman traces certain design principles back to their psychological root. For instance, Norman focuses on concepts such as affordances, or what our brains think something can/should be able to do. (A chair affords sitting, but not all chairs afford lifting). Building on this idea, Norman also delves into concepts like signifiers, or the ways of communicating how a user should interact with a given product. Overall this book explains why things look and feel and exist the way they do. It’s not strictly because of looks. Any good design must take into account what a user is thinking, what the user needs to accomplish, and how the user will try to accomplish the task at hand. Only once we’ve gotten a firm grasp on these intricacies can we be truly effective designers.

Intrigued? If so, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this fundamental guide to the basics of understanding design.

(This post is not sponsored, I just really like this book.)

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