A une epoque ou on veut que tout soit facile et instantanné, un livre qui dit qu'une vie riche, pleine et epanouissante necessite un minimum de complexite et donc d'investissement ou d'engagement C'est honnete et tres interessant. Comme tous les livres de Norman, la premiere partie est passionante, les exemples de cas et de designs sont parfois un tout petit plus anecdotiques. A ne pas rater dans tous les cas
I used to be a fan of Don Norman's books. Heck, The Design of Everyday Things is what got me started in my career, and reading it was a truly formative experience. Emotional Design is another great Norman book that helps the reader understand the world around them.
But the more Mr. Norman writes, the worse his books get. The Design of Future Things was a rambling beat-the-dead-horse screed about how cars should drive themselves, and appliance designers should find ways for appliances to communicate with us other than going 'beeeeeep'. Both of those are true, but he covered them just as well (perhaps better) in a two-page article he wrote for a journal.
This volume, Living With Complexity, continues that downward spiral.
As always, he has a good premise: complexity is not inherently bad. Simplicity is not inherently good. And more important, it's not a zero-sum trade-off between the two.
Unfortunately, it's buried under semi-coherent prose that rambles, circles, repeats, and ultimately goes nowhere. It takes entire chapters to convey simple ideas. He even gets tangled up in his own arguments, getting the punch line wrong at least once (i'm not sure if he meant to say 'reduces simplicity' or 'increases complexity', but the end result was 'increases simplicity', which was exactly the opposite of what he'd just shown).
He even gets some of the research wrong. It's well known that people will shop based on features. They'll take two software packages or cars or dishwashers, line them up, and compare the feature list, almost always buying the one with the longer list if the price is equal. Mr. Norman takes this and concludes that people want more features, even though the research pretty solidly indicates that people simply equate more features with greater value, regardless of whether they have any use for the features. (Think of any time you've heard a person say, 'but this one has eight different settings!' when you know full well they'll only ever use one. It's just like people rationalizing a purchase with 'it's on sale!' even if it's an item they'll never use.)
With a few rounds of thorough editing, this book could have been a Norman masterpiece, explaining the intricacies of interaction design to a general audience and even teaching interaction designers a few new tricks. Instead, it's quite nearly a waste of paper.
If you're new to Don Norman, skip this book and go straight to The Design of Everyday Things. If you've read a few of his books and are hoping he got his groove back, save yourself the money.
40 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Don Norman studies, analyzes, teaches, and writes about good design. He is a professor with an outstanding academic record and actual experience in industry, and something rarer still, the ability to communicate his insights. This is a good book, an important book, about the difference between 'complexity' and 'complicated'. Some tasks are complex -- like flying a B787 or written language -- but the resulting interaction with humans doesn't have to be overly complicated. On the other hand, some designs -- like coffee makers or commercial toilet paper dispensers -- take a task that ain't that complex and make it crazy complicated. Good design isn't just ergonomic in the sense of being the right size for human hands, good design is ergonomic is the sense of being right for the way human brains work. Norman offers here the excellent example of the old VCR compared to a TiVo box. The computer in the TiVo box is very complex, but the task of recording Letterman is so much less complicated.
Unfortunately this isn't Norman's best book. If you are interested in the general ideas, the classic introduction is The Design of Everyday Things. This book seems a little too quickly written, and would have benefited with more time and attention. I'd like to have seen more detailed in-depth examples, or maybe a more developed thematic organization of the issues. If however, you know you like this subject, then pretty much anything Norman writes is worth your time to read. I hope you find this review useful.
11 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Donald Norman makes the point in 'Living with Complexity' that complex technology is an inevitable part of our lives and we wouldn't have it any other way.
That may sound counterintuitive to anyone who's ever cursed their remote control or slammed a computer mouse, but it's true. All things being equal, people nearly always choose a feature-rich item over a less-featured alternative. We market products by stressing new features that provide ever more functionality along with, inevitably, more complexity. I doubt a software vendor has ever touted their latest release as, 'containing even fewer features than our prior version'.
We all want functionality in our cars, software, and household appliances. We want the convenience of automated services and the ability to carry our electronic lives around in the palms of our hands. But we also want all of this technology to be understandable and this is the challenge of 'human-centered' design, as Norman calls it.
The problem is, too often, technology frustrates and confounds, not because of its inherent complexity, but because of poor design that neglects or disregards human behavior. People routinely and successfully drive cars, purchase tickets from kiosks, fly aircraft, and use complex graphics and audio software, demonstrating it's possible to design advanced technology in such a way that promotes effective learning and use.
In contrast, even simple technology such as salt and pepper shakers can be confusing if their contents are not easily distinguished. It's not a question of equating the importance of applying salt to flying a plane; it's the cumulative effect of living in a world where technologies of all stripes often appear indifferent or adversarial rather than assistive and even `social'.
For my generation, I suppose programming the VCR is the iconic example of struggling with bad design.
And just to show that being a design guru doesn't grant immunity from the effects of bad design, Norman describes his own frustrating experience saving configured sound parameters on his wife's electronic piano, with particular animus for the designers.
The book includes a number of entertaining stories of the author's exploits pointing out (often to no avail) such design flaws and their effect on user experience.
The result of all this confusion is the conventional wisdom that simple is always better than complex. Norman makes a very persuasive case that simple vs. complex is a false choice. What we humans naturally seek is a mid point between simplicity and complexity - too simple equals boring while too complex equals confusing and frustrating. Furthermore this middle ground will shift over time as our knowledge and experience grow. Norman worked at Apple and I enjoyed his discussion concerning why Apple at first chose a single button mouse at a time when PCs were new to most users and only later changed to a multi-button mouse as the average user gained more experience.
'Living With Complexity' is not a textbook in the classic sense of exercises and chapter summaries. It reads more like a personal meditation on how we interact with the technological world and how technology can be made more responsive to human behavior.
The ideas are much broader that simply how to build better gadgets. It was eye-opening to read Norman's views about how technology is used to coerce and maintain societal behavior. The chapter on social signifiers, such as ground lines that guide pedestrian and vehicle traffic, literally changed the way I view these commonplace markings. And discovering the not-so-universal attitude towards waiting in line might cause you to reconsider that visit to a Euro-mega-theme-park during busy season. There's an entire chapter on designing waiting environments to better meet expectations and provide a fair experience - retailers should buy the book for this alone.
Best of all, the author's writing itself is `well-designed': energetic, clear, crisp and direct.
There's so much to take away and ponder it's difficult to sum up. But one thing's for sure, after reading 'Living With Complexity' you'll never look at those salt and pepper shakers on a restaurant table quite the same way again.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Living with Complexity is the latest book from Don Norman, one of the most forward thinking and influential designers in the world. Consistent with The Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design, Living with Complexity is a thought provoking, high quality book that will make you look at many things in the world from a new perspective.
The initial premise of the book is that simplicity is not inherently good and complexity inherently bad. In actuality, our world is complex and our tools need to match that complexity--it is poorly designed tools that are the real problem.
Living with Complexity consists of nine chapters: 1. Living with Complexity: Why Complexity is Necessary 2. Simplicity is in the mind--complex things can be understandable, simple things can be confusing 3. How simple things can complicate our lives--many simple things, each with their own rules, results in complexity 4. Social signifiers--how our behavior is influenced by the behaviors of others 5. Designs in support of people--machines that can personalize your experience, especially when unexpected events occur 6. Systems and services--the complexity of services, which are the integration of different people, systems, and processes to deliver an end-to-end service outcome 7. The design of waits--the psychology of waiting in line, and ways to make a negative experience neutral or positive 8. Managing complexity--complexity is in the mind, once we have mastered something, it becomes simple, requiring a partnership between the designer and the user. 9. The challenge--why are so many things poorly designed?
Living with Complexity is enjoyable and educational, I strongly recommend the book for anyone involved in usability, service or product design, or if you are simply interested in how things work.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
This wonderfully well written book, grounded in experimental psychology, provides practical advice on how to design devices, systems and experiences so that you will end up with satisfied customers. The book explains the importance of thinking through the entire process of using a device/system. It also explains how complexity turns into confusion when people's conceptual models (and/or organization of ideas) break down or if they do not understand what is going on within a product/system. While that is a lot of "high level" concepts and it could turn into pure conjecture or "pop" psychology, instead the author ties it back into well grounded theory (happily the references are plentiful but hidden nicely in the chapter notes).
While many of the examples are taken from hospital design and human computer interaction they run from humorously absurd (how to dispense toilet paper) to completely practical (how to queue people up in line to pay for lunch), they are consistently interesting and right on target to drive home the authors points. Beyond providing the conceptual model for what makes a good design, the six design principles for waiting lines are completely applicable for a wide range of fields and are already reshaping how I think about designing computer programs and interacting with clients.
In short, this book is a joy to read and is full of great ideas for people who need to design usable products.