The Design of Everyday Things

I’ve always been interested in human factors. That is, ergonomics or usability. I think I’d first heard of it as a kid, as applied in the Gemini space program. Which guaranteed I’d want to know more.

My opening was in graduate school. The only class offered was in the Department of Agricultural Engineering. One assignment: Here’s a hall of farming machinery. Analyze the ergonomics of each vehicle’s controls and displays.

But it was Don Norman‘s The Design of Everyday Things that fanned my interest into a lifetime zeal for usability. He “places before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.” (1776, book by Peter Stone.)

Thence I rage at shoddy design. Especially when those subjected to it blame themselves. Oh, I’m such a klutz. I’m not that good with technology…. No, you’re not that good with poorly designed tech.

Norman is always worth reading. But for me, that first retains the glow of first love.