My Talk with Don Norman

I recently had the privilege to speak with one of the most influential designers in the world: Dr. Donald Norman. We spoke for over an hour and I must say that I learned a lot about design psychology in such a short amount of time. His thought-provoking words left my brain feeling refreshed.

We discussed the suggestions that I offered him for the revised version of “The Design of Everyday Things”. He even shared just a glimpse of his personal stories from Apple and from his experience in design in general. I even taught him a new word! (skeuomorphism)

Don discussed how easy it was to find design problems in the world but how hard they actually are to fix. He also explained how the economy and differing company standards were the culprits. But how the differing standards are also what make life interesting. We talked about Apple, Google, Amazon and their control freak ways. It may have seemed like the most random conversation ever. We discussed everything from windows and coffeemakers to ceiling fans and keyboards. But everything was linked together by a universal theme: design and the psychology of design.

I want to share Don’s advice on how to pursue design sans degree (which relates to Project Summer 13) since it can be applied to any field. “Focus on your strengths,” he said, “you can’t compete with real design students. They’ve had 4 full years worth of experience and portfolio material. You’ve had a couple classes at best” Instead he recommended that I emphasize my computer science experience and relate it to design. This way, my unique experience and perspective would stand out in a pool of just design applicants. He also advised that I audit classes that interest me and become friends with the “interesting professors”. Golden advice.

All in all, the most stimulating conversation that I have had in a long time. ~ Imtiaz Majeed


2 thoughts on “My Talk with Don Norman

  1. I read Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things when I took a class called Human Factors at ASU. The book opened my eyes to the little things in life. Are you aware there’s a design class on Coursera coming up?

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