The Design of Everyday Things


For this assignment, I am to list 7-12 of the most important ideas I got from reading: Norman, The Design of Everyday Things, Chapter 1: “Psychopathology of Everyday Things

  • For whatever reason, we (as a society) put up with the frustrations of everyday objects. For example, doors that trap people and packages wrapped in plastic that seem impossible to open without hurting yourself.
  • Everyday objects should be so simple that the design of the object tells us how to use it. They should be so simple that we do not need an instruction manual to open a door or even an image that says “Push” or “Pull”. The design should tell us how to open a door.
  • There are twenty thousand “everyday things”. If learning each one only took 1 minute, we would spend about 8 forty-hour work weeks. We cope with this and learn these new things (how a sink operates, the components of an iron, the functions of paper clips and scissors) in part due human thought and cognition. The other part from the ability of the designer to make the operation clear (stupid proof).
  • Visibility is a huge concept in design. Design of an object takes advantage of natural mapping. Natural mapping is the physical analogies and cultural standards that lead to immediate understanding.
  • Providing a good conceptual model to the user of an object allows the user to predict the effects of his or her actions. Without a good model, we are not able to fully appreciate why things behave as they do.
  • Feedback is also an important principle in design. Sending back to the user information about what action has actually been done is something that a well-designed object does very well. It is a well known concept in the science of control and information theory.
  • There is a paradox of technology. Technology offers the potential to make life easier, more convenient, and more enjoyable. However, with so many poorly designed objects, the benefits of technology are nullified.

One thought on “The Design of Everyday Things

  1. Well, the paradox of technology is that you can’t get more convenient, full-featured, automated things without them inherently becoming more complex and complicated…

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