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Donald A. Norman is a professor emeritus of cognitive science at University of California, San Diego and Professor emeritus of design and Computer Science at Northwestern University. Today he considers himself as doing applied cognitive science as a designer. He also teaches at KAIST, the Korean advanced Institute of Science and technology.

Norman was one of the founders of "Human Information Processing," which merged with other developments into the field today known as Cognitive Psychology. He was a co-founder of Cognitive science, editor of its journal and chair of the society. He co-founded and was the first chair of the country's first department of Cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego.

Norman's first six books were in psychology. However, his more recent works have been in the application of research in cognitive psychology and science, and as a result, his most recent (seven) books are about design. The two most influential early books were the textbooks "Human Information Processing" and"Memory and Attention." The two most influential design books are "Design of Everyday Things" and "Emotional Design." He loves products which are enjoyable to use, a feature which he attributes to putting together emotion and design, or heart and mind. He has explained this in detail in his book Emotional Design.

He is a promoter of the concept of information appliances, which he has covered in his book The Invisible Computer.

He co-founded the Nielsen Norman Group, a consulting group on matters of usability which also includes Jakob Nielsen (usability consultant) and Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini. Norman currently splits his time between consulting and his teaching and research at Northwestern and Stanford.


Norman has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from MIT and a Doctor of Philosophy in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a honorary degree from the University of Padua in Padua, Italy and also from the Delft Institute of Technology (TUD, in Delft, the Netherlands). He is a member of the national Academy of Engineering, the American Association of Arts and Science, APA, APS, and the Human Association Society. He has received the Franklin Society's award in Cognitive Science. He has been a professor of computer science (at Northwestern University), psychology and cognitive science (at University of California, San Diego). He has also worked for Apple Computer as Vice President of Apple's Advanced Technology Group and for Hewlett-Packard.

Partial bibliography


  • Human information processing: An introduction to psychology (1975) in collaboration with Peter H. Lindsay (first author)
  • Memory and attention (1977)
  • Learning and memory (1982)


  • Direct manipulation interfaces (1985) in collaboration with E. L. Hutchins (first author) and J.D. Hollan
  • User Centered System Design: New Perspectives on Human-Computer Interaction (1986)(editor in collaboration with Stephen Draper)
  • The Design of Everyday Things (1988, originally under the title The Psychology of Everyday Things)
  • Turn signals are the facial expressions of automobiles (1992)
  • Things That Make Us Smart (1993)
  • The Invisible Computer (1999)
  • Emotional Design (2003)

User Centered Design

In his book "The Design of Everyday Things", originally called "The Psychology of Everyday Things" Donald A. Norman describes the psychology behind what he deems 'good' and 'bad' design through case studies and proposes design principles. He exalts the importance of design in our everyday lives, and the consequences of errors caused by bad design.

In his book, Norman use the term "user-centered design" to describe design based on the needs of the user, leaving aside what he deems secondary issues like aesthetics. User-centered design involves simplifying the structure of tasks, making things visible, getting the mapping right, exploiting the powers of constraint, and designing for error. In "Emotional Design," Norman addressed aesthetics and emotions, calling them core to the total experience we have with products. His latest book "Living with Complexity," points out that despite the cry for simplicity, complexity is both necessary and good, for our tools must match the task we do.

Other topics of the book include:

  • The Psychopathology of Everyday Things
  • The Psychology of Everyday Actions
  • Knowledge in the Head and in the World
  • Knowing What to Do
  • To Err Is Human
  • The Design Challenge

See also

External links

Preceded by:
Barbara Mirel
Succeeded by:
Stephen Doheny-Farina

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