The Design of Everyday Things

Don Norman, a renowned cognitive scientist and usability engineer, indeed coined the term “user experience” and played a significant role in shaping the field of UX design. In his influential book “The Design of Everyday Things,” originally published in 1988 under the title “The Psychology of Everyday Things,” Norman explored the principles of human-centered design and the impact of design on people’s interactions with everyday objects.

In the book, Norman emphasized the importance of designing products that are intuitive, usable, and align with users’ mental models. He argued that good design should take into account the cognitive and physical abilities of users, focusing on making interactions effortless and enjoyable.

One of the key concepts introduced by Norman in the book was the notion of “affordances.” Affordances refer to the perceived or inherent properties of an object or system that indicate how it can be used or interacted with. For example, a button affords pressing, a handle affords grasping, and a clickable link affords navigation. Understanding and designing for affordances became a fundamental principle in UX design.

Norman’s book also highlighted the importance of feedback, mapping, and conceptual models in the design process. He emphasized the need for clear and meaningful feedback to users, ensuring they understand the results of their actions. Mapping, on the other hand, involves creating a clear relationship between the controls and their corresponding functions. Conceptual models refer to users’ mental models or understanding of how a system works, and Norman stressed the significance of aligning the design with users’ existing mental models.

Although the term “user experience” was not explicitly used in the first edition of the book, Norman later popularized the term to encapsulate the holistic view of design, encompassing usability, aesthetics, emotions, and overall satisfaction. The revised edition of the book, published in 2013, includes a preface where Norman introduces the term “user experience” and discusses its significance in contemporary design practices.

Don Norman’s contributions to the field of UX design, both through his book and his subsequent work, have been highly influential. He continues to advocate for user-centered design principles and the creation of products and systems that enhance the overall experience of users.