Don Norman: Designing For People

Nielsen Norman Group

Suggested Readings From Design of Everyday Things, Revised edition

Many people continually ask for my suggestions of readings in design. Here is an excerpt from the "Readings and Notes" section of the 2013 revision and expansion of the book Design of Everyday Things" that provides my list of general books for interaction design. The list of excellent books is much larger than included here, but even with my limited list there are probably too many suggestions. Still, this is a good place to start. Don't overlook the websites at the end of the list.

The Industrial Designer Bill Moggridge was extremely influential in establishing interaction within the design community. He played a major role in the design of the first portable computer. He was one of the three founders of IDEO, one of the world's most influential design firms. He wrote two books of interviews with key people in the early development of the discipline:Designing Interactions and Designing Media (Moggridge, 20072010). As is typical of work from the discipline of design, his works focus almost entirely upon the practice of design, with little attention to the science. Barry Katz, a design professor at San Francisco's California College of the Arts, Stanford's, and an IDEO Fellow, provides an excellent history of design practice within the community of companies in Silicon Valley, California:

Eco-system of Innovation
: The History of Silicon Valley Design (Katz, 2014). An excellent, extremely comprehensive history of the field of product design is provided by Bernhard Bürdek's Design: History, theory, and practice of product design (Bürdek, 2005). Bürdek's book, originally published in German but with an excellent English translation, is the most comprehensive history of product design I have been able to find. I highly recommend it to those who want to understand the historical foundations.

Modern designers like to characterize their work as providing deep insight into the fundamentals of problems, going far beyond the popular conception of design as making things pretty. Designers emphasize this aspect of their profession by discussing the special way in which they approach problems, a method they have characterized as "Design Thinking." A good introduction to this comes from the book Change by Design by Tim Brown and Barry Katz (Brown & Katz, 2009). Brown is CEO of IDEO and Katz an IDEO Fellow (see the previous paragraph).

An excellent introduction to design research is provided in the book by Jan Chipchase and Simon Steinhardt, Hidden in Plain Sight (Chipchase & Steinhardt, 2013). The book chronicles the life of a design researcher who studies people by observing them in their homes, barber shops, and living quarters around the world: Chipchase is Executive Creative Director of Global Insights at Frog Design, working out of the Shanghai office. The work of Hugh Beyer and Karen Holtzblatt on Contextual Design, presents a powerful method of analyzing behavior (Beyer & Holtzblatt, 1998) as well as a workbook (Holtzblatt, Wendell, & Wood, 2004). Vijay Kumar's book 101 design methods (Kumar, 2013) provides an excellent compendium and structured guide to the use of the many methods of design research.


There are many excellent books. Here are the complete citations for the books listed above, plus a few more:

Beyer, H., & Holtzblatt, K. (1998). Contextual Design: Defining customer-centered systems. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann. 

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2009). Change by design: how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Business. 

Bürdek, B. E. (2005). Design: History, theory, and practice of product design (1st English ed.). Boston, MA: Birkhauser-Publishers for Architecture. 

Buxton, W. (2007). Sketching user experience: getting the design right and the right design. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Chipchase, J., & Steinhardt, S. (2013). Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Create Extraordinary Products for Tomorrow's Customers. New York: HarperCollins. 

Coates, D. (2003). Watches tell more than time: product design, information, and the quest for elegance. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Cooper, A., Reimann, R., & Cronin, D. (2007). About face 3: the essentials of interaction design. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Pub.

Hassenzahl, M. (2010). Experience Design: Technology for All the Right Reasons. San Rafael, California: Morgan & Claypool.

Holtzblatt, K., Wendell, J., & Wood, S. (2004). Rapid Contextual Design: A How-to Guide to Key Techniques for User-Centered Design. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann. 

Katz, B. (2014). Ecosystem of Innovation: The History of Silicon Valley Design. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. 

Kumar, V. (2013). 101 design methods: a structured approach for driving innovation in your organization. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Moggridge, B. (2007). Designing interactions. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. -- Chapter 10 describes the methods of interaction design:

 Moggridge, B. (2010). Designing media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 


Websites for design organizations are important. I recommend two, as a start:

Interaction Design Foundation: Take special note of its Encyclopedia articles.

SIGCHI: the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group for ACM (ACM is the professional society for Computer Science).