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I recently came across this wonderful presentation by Don Norman. (Click here to see the video) Below are my notes from the video!


Don Norman presents some insightful thoughts on building software products using real world examples. He starts with saying that different people look at the world in different ways. This is one of the reasons why when given a choice between up button or a down button on a remote without labels, some people will choose up and some will choose down. He also talks about how the world of software products is changing with the introduction of gestures, shakes, multi-touch etc.


Here are ten rules for successful products,



  1. It's All About The Experience: Don gives real world examples of how an experience can make a lasting impression.
  2. Design Systems: Using iPod as an example he explains how the complexity of the system remained same but made iPod a hugely successful customer gadget.
  3. Everything is a Service: This is an extremely interesting and relevant point! Don gives an example of an ATM machine. ATM machine to the manufacturer of that machine or to the buyer of that machine (bank) is a product. However for the end consumer it provides a service. So he argues that everything is a service and everything is a product! He goes on to explain how services can be recursive.
  4. Everything is a Product.
  5. productService.jpg

  6. Don't Be Too Logical. Logic is not the way people think, it is an artificial form of thinking! Cognition versus Emotions are the two ways we process information. Emotions win over logic as it comes first and engineers build products with too much logic. Value the emotions, emotions are about value systems. He gives an example of Disney as a company that manages customer's emotions. Very interesting example here about lines! (23:37 minutes into the presentation)
  7. Memory is more important than Actuality. Here Don argues that memory is the long lasting element.
  8. Complexity is Good, Complicated is Bad
  9. Design for the Real World. Notice this real world picture that Don took from his office where the flags are flying in opposite directions! Thats what he calls real world. And we must design systems that are geared for the real world!
  10. flags.jpg

  11. Design for People. This is the most intriguing rule. (41:00 minutes into the presentation) Here Don argues that people tend to work best in small groups. Anytime the group becomes larger than 20 people (typical start up company size) there is added complexity of managing teams of people! He goes on to give great real world examples on it.
  12. It's All About The Experience: Experience is so important that this rule is here twice!


All in all this presentation is a MUST watch for everyone. You will not only learn a LOT from it but the way Don delivers it, you will surely enjoy it.