Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

ACT1: Don Norman, and his Everyday Things

Don Norman wrote the amazingly influential book, "The Design of Everyday Things" - required reading for anyone involved with design, they say (and I agree). In the book, he bemoans the interfaces that clutter our lives and confound even the most intelligent of hopeless cases.

He ranted about overly complex phone systems. How incredibly obtuse setting the VCR was. Why the light switches in your home don't give you any hints to which lights they turn on. And so on, and so forth.

Reading his book puts a fire underneath any designer worth their salt to NOT BE THAT DESIGNER. The designer who thinks that people will read the instruction manual. The designer who values cheapness or style over practicality on a practical item. The designer who doesn't actually give a damn about the person who's going to use the item/invention/system!

Wikipedia Article on Donald Norman. He has a website that I'm now reading, and a 1.5hr video on The Design of Future Things from Stanford that I'm watching.

Think about what you're making, and who it's designed for - the pretties can come later, but Don Normal taught me that if it doesn't do what your head says it should do, then you've made it wrong!

Views: 31

Comment by B Smith on March 4, 2010 at 4:56am
Graphic Communications was my major in school and this is an idea that was never presented strongly enough. My designs were sometimes mocked for the simplicity...but they always worked. This thought could be applied to so many aspects of life. The next question is how can we use this information to make our resources go farther.
Comment by Edgaras Leichteris on March 6, 2010 at 11:31am
Thanks for sharing, hate "everyday designers" not paying attention to practical usability side.
Comment by Brian Ballsun-Stanton on March 6, 2010 at 11:37am
Norman's Everyday things was a fantastic fantastic book. Here's an interesting challenge. How would you apply the concepts in his book to this site? :)
Comment by Amanda Jeffrey on March 6, 2010 at 3:26pm
An interesting challenge indeed!
I suppose if it were me, I'd want to watch and see what it was that people were doing the most - with a sample size of one (me!) I'd say that people are moslty:
- Looking at the evidence posts (and mostly blog posts)
- Checking to see if there's been any movement on the discussion forum.

So, at the moment, the site doesn't really support that very easily. If you arrive on the site, to see the latest blog posts is 2 clicks in - when it could easily be on the front page (it's where all the action is happening, after all). The discussion page link is all the way in the corner, and I get the feeling that it's often unnoticed, or forgotten about. If discussion is to be encouraged, I'd rename the link to be 'Forum' or 'Discussion Forum' so that people know exactly what they're getting into.

The forum itself is too flat - if a lot of people start using it, posts will very quickly get lost. I'd suggest a folder structure, but I don't know what categories you'd have yet.

Lastly, I'd have a way to give points for things other than blog posts, photos or videos - because at the moment, 'points' are encouraging the selfish creation of content, not the discussion of others content.
Comment by John D. Boyden on March 6, 2010 at 6:53pm
+1 knowledge share, yet it is more of a challenge. A caution to creators to remember their "customers". Unfortunately, it is market perception that rules. And of course, the bottom line. So is the product a throw-a-way? Make it, sell it cheap, grab the profit and run? Is it the result of one or more decisions that we can't afford to do it right, in our few trials it sort of worked, we need to get it sold?...What rules these decisions?


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