The Design of Everyday Things

First book I read on my Kindle! In that respect, it was definitely a success. I think this book wasn’t necessarily the best one for me, mostly because a lot of what he talked about seemed like what would be “common sense” to the average designer, in addition to me not being too interested in the field. However, thinking back, I think that’s exactly the point of the book–to state a lot of the obvious hidden with some interesting insights. It’s too common in real life to do the wrong thing knowingly while giving ourselves a justification for why it’s okay. By reading a set of ideas that lay out what we think mentally, people can have a better understanding of their mental processes, even if they are just “common sense”. Here are some interesting insights that I got from the book.

  • When things fail because people operate them incorrectly, it’s often an issue of bad design instead of people being bad. Good design subconsciously guides people towards the correct solution to their problems [using signifiers].
  • Human-centered design is the idea of defining a goal with the end-user in mind and working towards that goal.
  • Defining a goal for design is just as hard as creating the product itself. Oftentimes, the product isn’t a goal in itself, but a method in which the person actually achieves a goal.
  • Feedback is paramount in design–users need to know what is happening, whether that’s with an LED, sound, or dynamic progress bar. Proper feedback involves the user being able to quickly understand what is going on.
  • Social and cultural conventions often dictate what people will do and how technology will be used. Creating objects that are universally understood is difficult, but worthy. This is why full technological adoption often takes years or decades from conception.
  • There needs to be communication between the different teams operating in order to make a functional product. [Marketing, Design, Engineering, etc.]


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