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Last updated on 1/10/20

Examine the Origins of UX Design

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The Nielsen Norman Group, named after founding members Jakob Nielsen and Don Normanis, is one of the leading authorities in the user experience field.

Jakob Nielsen is an engineer with a background in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). He has been coined the "king of usability."

Don Norman is often referred to as the "father of UX" design. His background is in engineering and psychology. In 1988, he wrote a book called The Psychology of Everyday Things, which later became The Design of Everyday Things (released in 1990 and 2002, and revised in 2013). This book remains a fundamental reference in UX design to this day, even as technology changes.

UX design defined

Donald Norman on the term UX. [1:49 min]

According to Don Norman and the Nielsen Norman Group,  " 'User experience' encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products." In short, user experience looks at an entire system involving the interactions around the use of a product, rather than only focusing on the design of the object itself.

The Design of Everyday Things

Take a look at the cover of The Design of Everyday Things. What would happen if you put coffee in this pot? First, how would you fill it? How does it close? How would you hold it? What happens if you were to try to pour yourself a cup of coffee?

Don Norman calls this photograph a "coffeepot for masochists." It's an everyday object created to be deliberately unworkable, nonsensical, and outrageous. You would be covered in hot coffee if you actually tried to use it! Norman uses humor to capture your attention and make you think.

 Don Norman on why he wrote The Design of Everyday Things. [2:14 min]

One of the things that inspired Don Norman to write The Design of Everyday Thing, was a trip to England where he realized he didn't know how to do simple things, like open doors, and turn on water faucets. He wrote the book to share fundamental principles – which we'll explore in the next chapter – that are still relevant so many years later. 

Emotional Design

Don Norman discusses his book Emotional Design. [2:16 min]

Emotion plays a critical role in how we decide what is valuable and assign priority, while cognition is about understanding. How can we create products that give people the emotions we care about? 

Good design makes you happy

This talk may be from 2009, but the concepts of design being joyful and fun still apply. It also is proof why it's important to stay up-to-date with what's happening in the industry.

Three ways that great design makes you happy. [12:41]

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement