Found in 37 comments on Hacker News
Deinos · 2018-11-09 · Original thread
Donald Norman does a good job explaining why in The Design of Everyday Things. I am sure most of you have probably read it, but if you haven't...
pmontra · 2018-06-09 · Original thread
We'll see if the touchscreen gets any traction. I'd like to point out that this is perhaps the only non Mac laptop that has a 15" screen and doesn't have a number pad. The keyboard is aligned with the center of the screen and the space bar is almost there too. Joy!

I could buy this laptop only for that, even if with Linux I'll probably have to wait the next laptop before the touchscreen is of any use. But no, the RAM is capped at 16 GB and I'm using 32 GB on my HP laptop (several projects for several customers, each one with a different language and environment.)

However my 15" laptop has a useless (for me) number pad with the result that I have to shift it half to the right to be able to keep my hands in front of me and not skewed to the left, which would probably do nasty things to all my upper body. This is the norm for all 15" laptops and I wonder if their designers stopped at the cover page of Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things", with the famous teapot for masochists, and deluded themselves into believing that this is the right way to build stuff.


yellowstuff · 2018-05-22 · Original thread
A classic that hasn't been mentioned yet is Doug Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things". My main takeaway 10 years after reading it is that a bad user experience, even one so subtle that the user doesn't notice, can usually be prevented by careful design.

gvajravelu · 2017-08-14 · Original thread
The two resources I recommend are The Designer of Everyday Things ( and Designing Interactions (

Both focus on more than website design, but they helped me understand how users interact with my user interfaces. I'm sure there are also a ton of great blog posts out there too, but I found these books the most helpful.

mathattack · 2016-03-07 · Original thread
I agree - I'm not a fan of hamburgers. But against Nomran's [0] advice I blame myself. It's taken many times to realize what they are, but I assume that I'm just a fogey who is slow in understanding the new standard. :-) I assume that the game is over and eventually we'll all catch up.


pramodliv1 · 2015-10-11 · Original thread
I'm not an entrepreneur, but I have worked at 2 startups (less than 20 employees) since 2011.

This is going to sound cliched, but the best way is to start your own company or project from scratch and apply the concepts you learn from these resources.

Here are some "bestsellers", apart from and PG's essays are

Building Product/Design


* Design Sprints by Google Ventures:

* Startup School Office Hours:

* Interface Design for Startups

* The Design of Everyday Things:

* Don't make me Think:

* Objectified:


* Either Rework or Getting Real by 37 Signals

Execution/Business Models:


1. The Lean Startup:

2. Lean Analytics:

3. Business Model Generation:



* How to Win Friends and Influence People

* The Hard Thing about Hard Things:

* The Startup of You:



* Build an audience before you launch the product - like 37Signals, Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky, Hubspot

* Traction Book:

* Be Creative - Each startup is different. There's no silver bullet



The sales course by Steli Efti:



Dave McClure:

Founder Interviews, stories:


* PandoMonthly:

* Stanford ECorner:

sandofsky · 2015-06-15 · Original thread
"Read a book."

Consistency is an important tool. In the absence of obvious visual affordances, it's even more important.

ilyazub · 2015-05-08 · Original thread
Please, read "The Design of Everyday Things":
estebank · 2015-03-18 · Original thread
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned "The Design of Everyday Things"[1], talking about human interaction design. It makes the same points, a few decades earlier so there're no references to mobile apps, but the distilled take away are the same ones:

* Be obvious

* Avoid extraneous "ornaments" in the interaction

* Understand what your user needs

Of course those three bullet points do not make the book (either of them, I assume) justice, but you might want to read Donald A. Norman's book first. Another book you might be interested in is Don't Make me Think[2], which is specifically related to software UI design.

I agree with the point that using smartphones for everything is a step back. Having touchscreens in cars is also a step back. We went from having controls that could manipulated without taking the eyes on the road to fancy futuristic UIs that require either for you to be parked, to have a companion or do something potentially dangerous.</rant>



I wish the title of this article was more inline with its thesis, which is found further down:

> modern web design has much more in common with product and industrial design than it has with print or graphic design.

His examples of industrial design flaws that look snazzy are bang on, and replicate problems often found in web designs. You gotta USE a thing to know if it's designed well. The Design of Every Day Things[1] should really be required reading for designers charged with designing for the web.

One of the best ways of knowing whether your design is effective is to watch people use it. The assumptions you made about how your audience will use your design will likely be blown away, and watching them try to accomplish the site's goal will lead you towards designs that help them do that more effectively.


eswat · 2014-03-02 · Original thread
The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman []

Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web by Lukas Mathis []

Don’t Make Me Thing by Steve Krug would have been my third.

I don’t believe any of these emphasize minimalism, and I’m not sure what help you’re looking for in that regard?

lhnz · 2014-02-26 · Original thread
I think you miss the point.

Being modularised allows the basic user experience to be kept very simple. It does not need to grow into something like an IDE. Hell, according to Packages [0] even tools like find-and-replace have been modularised so I do not think it follows that Github would carelessly decide to create a big ball of mud!

And additionally this tool has removed barriers that previously existed before.

Since it was created by Github they will be able to expose APIs to create features which are currently not possible.

Likewise the UI being implemented with WebKit means that the user interface can tightly represent what a user is used to seeing at different stages of their development process.

You might have read "The Design of Everyday Things" [1] before. There are certain elements which you need to control to create a good user experience: (1) discoverability, (2) feedback, (3) the conceptual model, (4) affordances, (5) signifiers, and (6) mappings. Without ease in changing the UI, and the possibility that Github will have self-interest in exposing extra APIs, it would be a lot more difficult to control for each of these.

It's just an opportunity to try new ideas. I'm not suggesting that this would be preferable to everybody.



mathattack · 2014-01-13 · Original thread
The best non-Code development that I ever read was the Design of Everyday Things.

It was not written with software in mind, but the core respect for the user translates enormously well. If you can't tell whether you should push or pull a door to open it, it's the fault of the door designer, not the door opener. This translates very deeply into interface (user or technical) design.

meerita · 2013-12-24 · Original thread
A good read would be "The design of everyday things" by Don A. Norman. It explains how brain works, and how to design by using map techniques and user tests.

A resume, when design:

1. Use both knowledge in the world and in the head. 2. Simplify the structure of tasks. 3. Make things visible. 4. Get the mappings right. 5. Exploit the powers of constraints-Natural & Artificial. 6. Design for Error. 7. When all else fails, standardize.

There's a lot of books in the matter of UI but they can fall either in the philosophy side or either the personal taste of the writer.

latitude · 2013-05-25 · Original thread
With all due respect for Tufte, his focus has always been on the presentation and visualization of the data. While this has an overlap with the design skills required for the end-to-end software design, the overlap is only partial and not even that big in many cases.

Also, the Dont Make Me Think book should've really been a two-pager pamphlet, it is really thin on a material. While the center idea is fundamental, it is very easy to explain and to understand.

If we are talking about 10000 ft perspective of the design and its fundamentals, I would raise you The Design of Everyday Things. This is a very good beginners book and it's also an interesting read for those who already know a thing or two.

tagabek · 2013-04-26 · Original thread
The Design of Everyday Things:
I'm in the same boat. I'm not very good but I'm starting to get better at design. Here are some tips, which might be useful. None of these are affiliate links and I'm not associated with any of them, if that matters.

- It's cliche, but read "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman [1]. It gives you a good sense of design's place in the greater world. The best design principles are as at home in a product development firm as they are in the software world.

- I own "Design for Hackers" by David Kadavy and I think it's pretty good. The content may or may not be "obvious" depending on your skill level, but he phrases things in a way that is understandable and reassuring to the engineering set. [2]

- There's a guy on HN (Jarrod Drysdale) who produced an eBook called "Bootstrapping Design". I haven't pulled the trigger on a purchase yet, but I need to. I've read his sample chapter and am subscribed to his newsletter and I think he's an excellent coach. [3]

- I keep a bookmark folder called "design inspiration" and when I find really cool sites or apps I save them here. You might also want to keep a clipping diary or something where you can keep notes for yourself about what you like and don't like about certain things.

- There's nothing wrong with imitation, within reason. EVERYONE stands on the shoulders of giants and the guy who designed that awesome site or app probably started by shamelessly copying existing stuff. In fact, I recommend that you spend some time trying to EXACTLY copy things you like. You'll start to get a feel for how to accomplish certain affects and, in general, you'll get design a little more "in the fingers".


- Have a project. Have a project. HAVE A PROJECT. It's very difficult to just "learn design", just as it's very difficult to just "learn programming". Unless you're just a natural autodidact, you can read all the tutorials and books and whatever but, when it comes time to do something on your own, you'll just be sitting there staring at a blinking cursor (or an empty Photoshop document) unless you have some place to start.

I hope this all helps, and don't be afraid to share stuff on HN with us. There are plenty of folks who would love to give you positive criticism and feedback.




rdwallis · 2013-01-14 · Original thread
I don't know about courses but I read The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman more than 10 years ago and it profoundly changed my life.

Obviously it doesn't only deal with UI design but I really recommend it if you're looking for a place to jump off from.

Be warned, once you read it you'll find yourself becoming extraordinarily annoyed by certain types of doors.

mseebach · 2012-12-04 · Original thread
I once got a recommendation for "The design of everyday things" ( with a warning: It will break the world for you, because you'll go around noticing how things are designed counter-intuitively, requiring large signs to explain what should be obvious. A good example: "Push"/"pull" signs on doors. Multiple branches of humanity independently developed the ability to design doors that any other human that understands the concept of a door can figure out how to open. Then, suddenly, around 50 years ago, that knowledge apparently vanished, and we started to have to put big "how to use" instruction stickers on one of the simplest and most intuitive objects ever invented.
spartango · 2012-10-24 · Original thread
No one says you can't study it even now (except perhaps your calendar)... One classic starting point is "The Design of Everyday Things"[1].


bad_user · 2011-11-22 · Original thread
That's because of a lack of education, because we, the technically inclined people, have failed to serve the normal people, preferring instead to:

1) reinvent the wheel over and over, each time with a new interface, shinier and more limited than the one before it

2) cater more to our hypothetical grandmas instead of our children ... which ironically are able to write HTML in Notepad just fine, if taught how to do that

     Users don't like our convoluted, hard-to-use 
     systems and have abandoned them for products 
     that are easier to use
What you're missing here is that those products that are easier to use get replaced like socks, with the users being back on square 1 every single time and struggling to perform even the most basic tasks by clicking their way around.

People all over Europe have learned to drive cars with manual transmissions - because after the initial pain, the vegetative nervous system kicks in and the wheel, the pedals, the gear switch, all of them become a natural extension, of which you don't think about anymore, just like breathing. And if automatic transmissions are great too, that's because they stay out of your way.

The UI of modern software is nothing like that. Nothing is logical anymore, nothing is designed anymore to be an extension of you. Normal users have to think about their every action, they have to visually search for clues in the UI for every stupid thing they do, they have to rote learn the paths they have to take for the software to take them from some point A, to some other point B. I saw users that have notes on the actual clicks they have to make for certain common actions. I don't know about you, but to me this is freaking painful to watch ;)

Btw, for some good user-experience guidelines, check out The Design of Everyday Things: (the link does contain my affiliate code) ... the one thing I took away from this book is that simplicity is a complex topic.

     Why won't people do more work ... 
     setting up their own blogs
Setting up your own blog is just a few clicks away on Google's Blogger, on, on or on countless other services. It takes more work to set up a template that represents your style, but that's not something you can do on Facebook anyway.

Really, step down from your high horse, it's not like you yourself are not guilty for the current state of our industry. We all are.

glimcat · 2011-07-26 · Original thread
If you develop or market products which are intended for use by humans, you should read this.

It is not sufficient to make you an experienced designer, but it is a serious start towards thinking more critically about what makes a given design good or bad.

rglover · 2011-07-21 · Original thread
I thought the name looked familiar. I downloaded a copy of "The Design of Everyday Things" not too long ago. Guess I'll have to crack it open?

For those that are also interested:

pkamb · 2011-04-01 · Original thread
Read this book: "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman
snikolov · 2011-01-27 · Original thread
The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. It talks about good and bad design in everyday objects through lots of enlightening and amusing stories and examples (doors that look like you should push them but you actually have to pull, mixing boards with dozens of identical knobs, aircraft software that hides important state information, etc). It provides some interesting insights from cognitive science and psychology too. It definitely made me a lot more conscious of how I went about making things that people would use and how those things could effectively communicate through their design what should be done with them. This also had an impact into how I went about communicating in general.

shadowmatter · 2010-10-08 · Original thread
These are exactly the two books I was going to recommend. Don't Make Me Think is like the K&R of web UX books, and Designing the Obvious is like a nice web 2.0 companion for it.

Also, I'd throw in The Design of Everyday Things -- see It was written long before anyone ever thought of web usability; instead, it focuses on the usability of things you interact with daily in real life. Let's just say that you'll never look at teapots or door handles the same way again...

chuckfouts · 2010-07-24 · Original thread
This article is based on the premise that people correlate the number of features of a product to the simplicity of using the product. This isn't an accurate premise. A better description of the problem would be that features get added to products without much thought for how it integrates with usability. "The Design of Everyday Things" is a good book that addresses where and why design goes wrong.
oostevo · 2010-04-20 · Original thread
This was an excellent article.

I've dabbled in this field in my job, but I don't have any real training, so I've had to teach myself.

The classic text in this field is _The Design of Everyday Things_, by Donald Norman.[1] Also very useful is _Interaction Design_.[2] The first is a very quick read (it's only about 200 pages, and not very technical), while the second is a textbook intended for use in university courses on HCI.

I've found both very valuable in trying to figure out how users approach things without any formal cognitive science or HCI training.

[1] [2]

Qz · 2010-04-02 · Original thread
I agree. I think there's a legacy of UI design over the past decades that many software houses still cling to. File/folder, menu bars and so on. I'm not really an iPhone/iPad fan, but I think they have and will continue to contribute a lot towards getting people to rethink UI design.

Also, the article you're thinking of is probably either this book:

Or an article about it. (The push/pull door things is a classic example out of that book.)

You should read Norman's "The Design of Everday Things." I bet you'd really enjoy the bit where he discusses hotel doors.

It's a really great book, and something I would consider a must-read for serious UI designers/developers. While the book was written in the 80s, and talks about things like ring slide projectors, VisiCalc, the original Macs, the ideas about what constitutes good and bad design are salient to this day.

navshaikh · 2009-09-01 · Original thread
Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software

The Design of Everyday Things

icey · 2009-08-18 · Original thread
"The Design of Everyday Things" would probably be a good start:
mcantor · 2009-06-29 · Original thread
More suggested reading: "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman. -- I've lost count of how many times I've read this book. As the article goes, it talks about what it really means to be intuitive, and how common objects fail miserably at achieving that goal.
runevault · 2008-09-05 · Original thread
Since Don't Make Me Think already came up, going to add About Face (have 2.0 but heard 3.0 is even better)

and Design of Everyday Things

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