Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today, we will unlock the book ‘The Design of Everyday Things’.
When speaking about the concepts behind proper design, you may feel as if they are not only far away from the current realities of your life, but that this would be something only designers would care about. However, this is not the case. In fact, design is quite relevant to our lives.
Every day, we come into contact with countless objects, such as electric lights, water faucets and household appliances. Every door which we go through on our way to work, every stationery we touch, and every computer or cell phone we use, are held in our hands throughout the day. These, are all products of design.
Good design can make people feel happy and as if everything is going smoothly, while bad design, on the other hand, can be frustrating. Imagine encountering a coffee maker and a washing machine that you don’t know how to use without resorting to a user manual; an automatic faucet that you never know where to put your hands to make water rush out; and a computer keyboard that is prone to typos. By being surrounded by such objects, your daily life would become a chaotic mess, where every little thing would become a bit of a hassle.
Therefore, the book we will introduce today suggests that design in everyday life should be human-centered, simple, usable, and as pleasant as possible. If people commit errors while using objects, it’s not because they are stupid. Most likely, it is rather because the design itself is faulty, as the designer didn’t consider people’s needs and mental state as a top priority.
This book is not only about design, but also about life. Each of us is a designer of our own lives. All the time we choose the things that surround us, design our rooms, and plan our ways of doing things. Learning to appreciate good design can make you a keen observer and capable of choosing useful and reasonable products more efficiently. Understanding the manner in which thoughtful designers think can also inspire you in your way of thinking.
Donald A. Norman, the author of the book ‘The Design of Everyday Things’, has been named by Businessweek as one of the world’s most influential designers. He is both a world-famous psychologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Previously, he used to serve as a senior director and consultant at numerous world leading corporations, such as Apple and Hewlett-Packard. His background in engineering and psychology gave him an eye for good design.
Since its publication, his book ‘The Design of Everyday Things’, has been a best-seller for 25 years and has been translated into 15 languages. It is worth noting that the design philosophy presented in the book are not outdated and are still relevant today. Many companies give the book to employees as a must-read. Some schools have also designated it as a textbook. Some ordinary readers have even changed their career paths to become designers themselves, due to this book. As such, this book may also inspire you to make changes in your own life.
Today, we’ll unlock the major points of the book in three parts:
Part one: what constitutes a good design.
Part two: reflecting on what constitutes a bad design.
Part three: how to design good products.