Design Knowledge Intermediary
Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things

By Donald Norman
Published by Basic Books, 2004

Pages 272
Price $ 17.16

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.

"The major challenge ... Norman explains in this well-illustrated survey of the emotional drivers in product design, is that customers' responses vary so greatly. Product designers need to tailor their work carefully in order to push the right buttons with the right consumers." Harvard Business Review (February, 2004)

Table of Contents


Three Teapots (537 kbyte pdf file)

   1. The Meaning of Things
         1. 1. Attractive Things Work Better (245 kbyte pdf file)
         2. The Multiple Faces of Emotion & Design
   2. Design in Practice
         1. Three Levels of Design: Visceral, Behavioral and Reflective
         2. Fun & Games
         3. People, Places and Things
         4. Emotional Machines
         5. The Future of Robots
         6. Epilogue:We Are All Designers ( 200 kbyte pdf file)