Don Norman

TAGS: Creativity, Design, Innovation, Technology, TED

Don Norman

Don Norman is the leader in the application of human-centered design. Businessweek has listed him as one of the world’s 27 most influential designers. “All design,” says Norman, “whether of a product, a company, a service or an experience is ultimately aimed at satisfying human and societal needs.” He is well known for his provocative and witty talks based off of his 12 books.

Dr. Norman is cofounder of the Nielsen Norman Group, an executive consulting firm that helps companies produce human-centered products and services. Norman serves as an IDEO Fellow and as advisor and board member to numerous companies and non-profit organizations in the area of policy and education.



  • Living With Complexity

    In this talk I distinguish between complexity and complicated. Complexity is used to describe a state of the world, whereas complicated is used to describe a state of mind. This is only a slight biasing of the dictionary definitions of those terms. I use the word “complex” to describe the state of the world, the tasks we do, and the tools we use to deal with them. I use the word “complicated” or “confused” to describe the psychological state of a person in attempting to understand, use, or interact with something in the world.

    My challenge is to explore the nature of complexity, to relish in its depth, richness, and beauty at the same time that I fight against evil complications of much of our technology. Bad design has no excuse. Good design can tame complex items by managing the complexity.

  • Cautious Cars and Cantankerous Kitchens: How Machines Take Control

    As we enter the era of intelligent devices, my major concern is that the communication difficulties between these two species of creatures, people (us) and machines (them), will cause the major difficulties. Us versus them. We intended this, they intended that. Many an accident, I fear, will result from these mismatched intentions. How do we overcome these communication problems? The problem is, I fear, that our machines suffer from autism.

  • Emotional Design: Total User Experience

    To the scientist (and Norman is a well-known Professor of Cognitive Science), emotion has many complex facets. In his popular book, Emotional Design, Norman showed how emotion can be treated as three different components, each having very different implications for design, for business, and for your customers.

  • Emotional Design of Healthcare Services and Facilities

    The design of healthcare facilities pits practical, functional requirements against the emotional needs of patients, family members, and healthcare personnel. Yes, we all know about the impact of space, light and color, and of appropriate furnishings. But what about the need for information, for the feeling of being in control, being informed, and avoidance of the feeling of being abandoned to a faceless bureaucracy? Emotional design includes more than color and decor. It emphasizes behavioral components that enhance trust, minimize frustration, and create a more friendly, relaxing atmosphere for situations normally regarded as stressful. Emotions matter, and we can do something about them.

  • More Video: TED Talk
    The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition
    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... MORE →

    Living with Complexity
    Complexity is part of the world, but it shouldn’t be puzzling: we can accept it if we believe that this is the way things must be. Just as the owner of a cluttered desk sees order in its structure, we will see order and reason in complexity once we come to understand the underlying principles. But when that complexity is random and arbitrary, then we have reason to be annoyed. Modern technology can be complex, but complexity by itself is neither good nor bad: it is confusing that is bad. Forget the complaints against complexity, instead, complain about confusion. We should complain about anything that makes us feel helpless, powerless in the face of mysterious forces that take away control and understanding... MORE →


  • Book: The Design of Future Things
  • Video: Design Research and Innovation
  • Bloomberg Businessweek: World's Most Influential Designers
  • Nielsen Norman Group
  • @donnorman: Follow Don on Twitter