The Design of Everyday Things

Donald Norman

Basic Books, 2013

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

“Even classics can be updated and improved… Highly recommended.”

Originally published in 1986, this revised and expanded edition brings Donald Norman's classic, bestselling book to a new generation of thinkers. 

Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious—even liberating—book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time.

In this entertaining and insightful analysis, cognitive scientist Don Norman hails excellence of design as the most important key to regaining the competitive edge in influencing consumer behavior. Now fully expanded and updated, with a new introduction by the author, The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how—and why—some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.


“A popular, entertaining, and insightful analysis of why some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them…This book is a joy-fun and of the utmost importance.”
Tom Peters

Time Magazine

“Norman…makes a strong case for the needlessness of badly conceived and badly designed everyday objects…This book may herald the beginning of a change in user habits and expectations, a change that manufacturers would be obliged to respond to. Button pushers of the world, unite.”
Los Angeles Times

“[A] Thoughtful exploration of Man vs. Machine.”
People Magazine


“We are all victimized by the natural perversity of inanimate objects. Here is a book at last that strikes back both at the objects and at the designers, manufacturers, and assorted human beings who originate and maintain this perversity. It will do your heart good and may even point the way to correcting matters.”
Isaac Asimov


“Twenty-five years ago The Design of Everyday Things was instrumental in orienting my approach to design. With this latest revised and expanded edition, Don Norman has given me a host of new ideas to explore as well as reminding me of the fundamental principles of great and meaningful design. Part operating manual for designers and part manifesto on the power of designing for people, The Design of Everyday Things is even more relevant today than it was when first published.”
Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO


“Norman enlightened me when I was a student of psychology decades ago and he continues to inspire me as a professor of design. His new book underpins all essential aspects of interaction design, the mother of human creation. It equips designers to make the world a safer, more pleasant and more exciting place. The cumulated insights and wisdom of the cross-disciplinary genius Donald Norman are a must for designers and a joy for those who are interested in artifacts and people.”
Cees de Bont, Dean, School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic