Don Norman: Designing For People

Nielsen Norman Group

Design + Relationships

Dear Don,

Inspired by some of your comments on aesthetics and emotion in design I have been thinking about its application to relationships; here are some thoughts:

Are people more tolerant of attractive partners? Do we overlook defects? Do we put up with more errors than we would do with similar less attractive models?

Do people expect attractive people to be dumber? I recall a national radio show had a phone-in about the correlation between attractiveness and cleverness in the female of the species, which I presume applies to males as well if indeed it does hold true (professors being the exception to this rule of course!) – the usability equivalent may be people like my grandparents that shy away from flash, new technology as they don't think they’ll be able to use it (i.e. it's less useable than the plain stuff).

Is there a utility model for relationships? Attractiveness + Cleverness + Wealth + X + Y = Z


Stop reading. Go to the nearest therapist. You are in severe trouble and need immediate counseling.

Is there some sort of heuristic review we could devise to help people find their perfect match, or flaws in their partner that could be improved?

As a business case we might also look at the evolution of technology!! – those people/items with the greatest utility score will be more successful and have their genes/blueprints passed down to other generations of successful people/designs. As with nature, sometimes looks and brawn outweigh brains in a partner's selection.

The field of HCI is ever expanding – is it time for us to move into relationship management, design, review and maintenance?


I mean it: Stop reading. Run, don't walk, to the nearest therapist.

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