I finally read Donald Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things because the book is recommended for my upcoming Graduate Design Seminar class. I must confess, this book is not as enjoyable as I had expected. In addition to the dated examples of everyday things (since the book is published in 1988), the design of the book itself is not too pleasing. The page numbers and the headings are bled to the edge. A few times I couldn’t figure out if the text belongs to the illustration or the main content. The most disrupting reading experience is paragraphs after paragraphs of italics. Nevertheless the book has many principles that I agree with, especially on the balance of aesthetics and usability:
If everyday design were ruled by aesthetics, life might be more pleasing to the eye but less comfortable; if ruled by usability, it might be more comfortable but uglier. If cost or ease of manufacture dominated, products might not be attractive, functional, or durable. Clearly, each consideration has its place. Trouble occurs when one dominates all the others.