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Why attractive things work better and other crucial insights into human-centered design
Emotions are inseparable from how we humans think, choose, and act. In Emotional Design, cognitive scientist Don Norman shows how the principles of human psychology apply to the invention and design of new technologies and products. In The Design of Everyday Things, Norman made the definitive case for human-centered design, showing that good design demanded that the user's must take precedence over a designer's aesthetic if anything, from light switches to airplanes, was going to work as the user needed. In this book, he takes his thinking several steps farther, showing that successful design must incorporate not just what users need, but must address our minds by attending to our visceral reactions, to our behavioral choices, and to the stories we want the things in our lives to tell others about ourselves. Good human-centered design isn't just about making effective tools that are straightforward to use; it's about making affective tools that mesh well with our emotions and help us express our identities and support our social lives. From roller coasters to robots, sports cars to smart phones, attractive things work better. Whether designer or consumer, user or inventor, this book is the definitive guide to making Norman's insights work for you.
Techno author Norman, a professor of computer science and cofounder of a consulting firm that promotes human-centered products, extends the range of his earlier work, The Design of Everyday Things, to include the role emotion plays in consumer purchases. According to Norman, human decision making is dependent on both conscious cognition and affect (conscious or subconscious emotion). This combination is why, for example, a beautiful set of old mechanical drawing instruments greatly appealed to Norman and a colleague: they evoked nostalgia (emotion), even though they both knew the tools were not practical to use (cognition). Human reaction to design exists on three levels: visceral (appearance), behavioral (how the item performs) and reflective. The reflective dimension is what the product evokes in the user in terms of self-image or individual satisfaction. Norman's analysis of the design elements in products such as automobiles, watches and computers will pique the interest of many readers, not just those in the design or technology fields. He explores how music and sound both contribute negatively or positively to the design of electronic equipment, like the ring of a cell phone or beeps ("Engineers wanted to signal that some operation had been done.... The result is that all of our equipment beeps at us"). Norman's theories about how robots (referred to here as emotional machines) will interact with humans and the important jobs they will perform are intriguing, but weigh down an already complex text.