The Design of Everyday Things

I finally finished this book after months of trying, and I'm glad I did. It's one of the most interesting and personally gratifying things I've read in a long time, and it gives me an entirely new respect for the simple details that make life easy, or at least possible.

Donald Norman's masterpiece on interface design principles examines the thoughts and ideas that go into product and software design, the many ways that they are misleading, and suggests many new ways to look at the purpose of design in general. Perhaps Norman's greatest achievement is addressing the problem of self-esteem versus design sense.

Throughout the book, Norman invites us to look at the millions of confusing, frustrating, and potentially dangerous mistakes we make operating everyday equipment, and to consider how design is at least partially responsible. He also speaks at length about the thought processes that go into using something, the universal language of interactivity, and how design trends actually serve to degrade the user experience serving no other purpose than winning awards.

Designers are constantly hobbled by the amazing shortcomings of the public who will one day use the products they design. But, it's important to realize that the point of design is not just aesthetics, but also utility and ease. Norman's book is the last book any designer should read, because it puts everything else in a logical perspective, with a user-focused agenda that reminds you to never blame a consumer for an error that could have been prevented by better design.