Donald Norman on 60 minutes

31 Dec 2007 - 11:23am
8 years ago
2 replies
1442 reads
Josh Evnin

Last night I was jogging at the gym when all of a sudden Donald Norman
flashed up on the TV above my head. He was interviewed as part of a segment
called "Get me the Geeks!". It was all about the various bits of technology
in our lives today, and the tech support required to service users.

Here's a link to the segment:

I'm sure there will be other questions that pop up from this, but here's

As Interaction Designers, how are we responsible for the products we work on
fitting in with the bigger sphere of products out there? I agree with the
segment's sentiment that there is simply *too much technology* out there for
everyday people to deal creating usable & useful individual
products may not be the answer.

Can we (as IxDers) really make a dent by fixing one product at a time? Or
should we try to take on the whole technology-focused culture? Or are these
things really at odds with one another? Discuss.




31 Dec 2007 - 12:11pm
Dave Malouf


this IS our job. Shoot, you should take your question, turn it into a
statement and that is our job description. Are we the only ones
responsible for all of that? I hope not, but we should be leading
that (I don't mean from an ownership perspective, but from an
advocacy perspective ... ownership is nice too).

I don't agree that there is "too much technology". I do agree that
there is too much poorly designed technology. I was just today
discussing this as part of an interview for some pub and well, what
is clear to me is the importance for interaction designers to design
not just products, but eco-systems around the focus business models
of the products they are designing.

Some do this half-assed, but saying that if I just design the APIs
then I'm absolved. Others just ignore this completely by designing

But the reality is that we can no longer afford to design products in
a bubble, and we can no longer afford to engineer innovation with also
designing it. (I'll let that one simmer! mmmm mmmm!)

-- dave

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31 Dec 2007 - 12:58pm
Jeff Seager

Yeah, I have to agree with Dave that there is not too much technology.
I don't think it's the technology that's poorly designed as much
as it is the human interfaces.

There are too many interfaces that control the same functionality on
many of today's devices, and the life cycle of these devices is so
short that we're constantly learning and relearning. It's stupid,
and it's frustrating, and it impedes our acceptance of some things
that could be very useful. For reasons of safety alone (since most
locales still allow cellphone use while driving), we should have a
common interface for all cellphones.

The key moment of the whole interview for me was the time taken to
find the "volume" controls on the remote control. A universal
interface for that would solve the problem easily. Is it patent
infringement that's holding us back from developing this? Or is it,
as Donald Norman said, the rush to market?

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