Book Review: The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman


Whenever someone asks me for a book on design, I always point them towards Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday things. I would say this is a must-read for anybody that creates things for other humans—whether you’re an architect, software engineer or entrepreneur.

I’m a product designer and think that his principles are spot on. Some things specifically to keep note of when reading:

  • Get the mappings right
  • Understand constraints
  • Consider errors when designing
  • If all else fails, standardize

I find Norman’s examples entertaining and well thought out. I don’t agree with his proposed redesign of light switches, but appreciate the thought behind it. However, many of the examples of bad design such as the Norman Door—doors that you don’t know if you should push or pull—should be familiar even if you haven’t considered it.

Anyways, if you’re looking to pick up a single book about design, let it be The Design of Everyday things


Hello! I love this cover. Where did you buy it? Is this an older edition?

Hey Anna,

Unfortunately, this isn’t a real book cover. Whenever a book gets posted, I try and mock up a cover in this flat style.

I also did one for the grid systems book that was shared.

This is next on my list! Any recommendations specific to UX design for software?

Appreciate the comment! The Design of Everyday things is an excellent generalist design book. Its principles can be applied to any type of design—including software. You’ll love it.

It’s difficult to think about software specific books that have made the same impact. Here are some good ones though:

Not a book, but I would also recommend Cap Watkin’s Essay on The Boring Designer.