I’ve read The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman recently and I was impressed : even if it was written in the 80’s, the content is in no way obsolete.
The book discusses the challenges of designing easy-to-use objects : doors, light switches and phone systems are discussed among others. It is very interesting and enlightening look on the most commons design used and why some of them are flawed. Some of it is just common sense and you will wonder why you never thought about it.
The explanations are a bit long at times, but the anecdotes and stories keep the whole thing engaging and interesting. Some examples are dated, but many predictions have turned to be surprisingly accurate. And it’s good for the ego to know that the so-called “human error” is in fact often caused by faults in the design and interface. You can then blame the designer next time you have trouble setting your alarm clock or DVD player.
This book is required reading if you’re a crafter and want to create or modify any object. You will be able to look at your creation objectively and ask yourself if everyone will be able to understand and use it. You will be a better crafter for it!
Here is the book on Amazon (great cover by the way, look carefully) :