Don Norman’s design principles

Referring to Don Norman’s ‘Design of Everyday Things’

  1. Visibility – (…) The more visible functions are, the more likely users will be able to know what to do next. In contrast, when functions are “out of sight,” it makes them more difficult to find and know how to use. (…)
  2. Feedback – (…) Feedback is about sending back information about what action has been done and what has been accomplished, allowing the person to continue with the activity. Various kinds of feedback are available for interaction design-audio, tactile, verbal, and combinations of these. (…)
  3. Constraints – The design concept of constraining refers to determining ways of restricting the kind of user interaction that can take place at a given moment. There are various ways this can be achieved. (…)
  4. Mapping – This refers to the relationship between controls and their effects in the world. Nearly all artifacts need some kind of mapping between controls and effects, whether it is a flashlight, car, power plant, or cockpit. An example of a good mapping between control and effect is the up and down arrows used to represent the up and down movement of the cursor, respectively, on a computer keyboard. (…)
  5. Consistency – This refers to designing interfaces to have similar operations and use similar elements for achieving similar tasks. In particular, a consistent interface is one that follows rules, such as using the same operation to select all objects. For example, a consistent operation is using the same input action to highlight any graphical object at the interface, such as always clicking the left mouse button. Inconsistent interfaces, on the other hand, allow exceptions to a rule. (…)
  6. Affordance – is a term used to refer to an attribute of an object that allows people to know how to use it. For example, a mouse button invites pushing (in so doing acting clicking) by the way it is physically constrained in its plastic shell. At a very simple level, to afford means “to give a clue” (Norman, 1988). When the affordances of a physical object are perceptually obvious it is easy to know how to interact with it. (…)

From: Preece, J., Rogers, Y., Sharp, H. (2002), Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, New York: Wiley, p.21

5 thoughts on “Don Norman’s design principles

  1. Good post,

    These are really good principles to follow. I loved reading Norman his book. One question though. What about providing a good ‘conceptual model’? I think that should be in this list as well. If you are interested I wrote an article about (see link).

    Best regards,

  2. Hi Snaerva,

    Yep that is the right link. I really enjoyed reading the books of Norman. Interesting to know that he started from a psychology background. That shows how important it is to predict / understand human behavior.

  3. Pingback: Usability Principles in Context - Lightfast

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