Review: Design of Everyday Things

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Continuing my user interface odessy, I recently read Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Things (DOET). Norman takes a look at a variety of commonplace manufacted goods, like doors and light switches, and points out where the designers helped or hindered the end-user. This book reads like academic who is trying to justify his research grant: some obvious points are flogged to death and the conversation is always kept at a high level. This isn’t to say that the book isn’t worth reading, it is. In fact, I suggest that after reading Brook’s Mythical Man Month, new CS majors buy this book. The expressed purpose of DOET is to make all designers, particularly programmers, more sensitive to end-user needs. After all, a spreadsheet isn’t meant for programmers, but average computer users.

For those readers that want to cut to the chase, read the first and last chapters. All the points are made or re-iterated there. If you’re looking for a more practical book, look at some of my past reviews in this journal.

[Original use.perl.org post and comments.]