6 December 2007

Are cars too safe? Are user manuals necessary?

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Donald Norman
In a Business Week interview design guru Don Norman argues for making autos less automated and for infusing gadgets with natural, easy-to-interpret feedback signals.

In his new book, The Design of Future Things (Basic Books), Don Norman isn’t afraid to call himself out on statements he made in his earlier, wildly popular publications such as The Design of Everyday Things. The co-founder of corporate design consultancy Nielsen Norman Group and the former vice-president of Apple now says that he has changed his mind on several design strategies he has advocated over the years.

The focus of his new book, however, is not on how he wishes to update his philosophies of design and innovation. Instead, it centers on so-called “smart,” or automated, gadgets and products. Increasingly being produced and marketed, these range from talking refrigerators that scold you for not keeping to a diet to cars that are comfortable and easy to drive to the point of distracting drivers from the dangers of the road.

The Northwestern University design professor spoke with BusinessWeek Innovation Dept. Editor Reena Jana about the perils of automation and subtle but effective strategies for improving product design, such as offering sounds or visual signals that are more pleasant and instructive than electronic blips and bleeps. Below are edited excerpts from their conversation.

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Listen to audio interview

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19 November 2016
A conversation with Dan Ariely about what shapes our motivations
A professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, Dan Ariely relentlessly examines our assumptions about ourselves—and finds they’re often totally misconstrued. We think, for example, that money is our main motivator in the …
17 November 2016
[Book] Collaborative Ethnography in Business Environments
Collaborative Ethnography in Business Environments Edited by Maryann McCabe Routledge 2017, 138 pages In a global and rapidly changing commercial environment, businesses increasingly use collaborative ethnographic research to understand what motivates their employees and what their customers value. In …
15 November 2016
[Book] Sensemaking
Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg Hachette Books March 2017, 256 pages Inspired by his work with companies like Ford and Coca-Cola, Madsbjerg's Sensemaking is a provocative stand against the …
14 November 2016
Billions spent on cyber security tech while human error ignored
Billions spent on cyber security tech while human error ignored, writes Misha Glenny in the Financial Times. Armies of zombie computers threaten us all. Despite the headlines, the cyber security industry has prioritised the development of …
12 November 2016
The time of user empathy
Forbes Product Member, Alec Pomnichowski, describes the parallels between architecture and product development thinking. He asks product-types to be considerate and thoughtful about the ways in which users experience products and find value in them …
11 November 2016
The cognitive psychologist’s view of UX design
Psychologist and cognitive scientist Dr. Susan Weinschenk explains how her science informs UX design. Weinschenk takes research and knowledge about the brain, the visual system, memory, and motivation and extrapolates ten UX design principles from …
8 November 2016
[Book] Anthropologies and Futures
Anthropologies and Futures: Researching Emerging and Uncertain Worlds Editor(s): Juan Francisco Salazar, Sarah Pink, Andrew Irving, Johannes Sjöberg Bloomsbury Academic May 2017, 288 pages Anthropology has a critical, practical role to play in contemporary debates about futures. This game-changing …
8 November 2016
[Book] Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight
Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight by Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell Harper Business November 2016, 336 pages In this pioneering guide, two business authorities introduce the new discipline of Service …

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1 December 2016
More on upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Last month Putting People First announced the upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities in Nice France. Meanwhile we are pleased to announce the full event agenda (see below). This event will feature professionals from leading research institutes and industry gathering to present key initiatives which combine Energy Efficiency and Service Design […]

29 October 2016
Upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Invitation to the International Conference on Design & Sustainable Innovation for SmartCities Nice (France) 8 December 2016 On the 8th December 2016, the CITYOPT project will host an international conference on Design and sustainable innovation for SmartCities, at the Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, France. An open invitation to attend is offered to people and organisations who […]

28 October 2016
Experientia’s President, Michele Visciòla, panel judge for MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition

The 100&Change is an international competition and a landmark opportunity for thinkers and designers to tackle critical challenges affecting the world. Michele Visciòla will be one of the panel of expert judges who will select which project is worthy of the $100 million grant. 100&Change is the MacArthur Foundation competition – launched this year for […]

5 September 2016
Great engine, but the fuel seems poor. Discussing insight development in corporate marketing

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) contains a lengthy essay, entitled Building an Insights Engine, on how Unilever has created the organizational capabilities to “transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.” The article was written by Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed of a […]

29 August 2016
Experientia discussing ethnography and patient-centricity at EPIC 2016

This week Experientia joins our colleagues and peers in Minneapolis at EPIC 2016, the premier international gathering on ethnography and design in industry. The theme for the conference this year is Pathmaking, emphasizing the power of ethnography to create transformative innovation, growth and strategic success for companies, industries and communities. On the second day of […]

22 June 2016
A united energy economy: Experientia helps wrap up the CITYOPT Nice pilot project

Can behavioral change address local energy issues, raise people’s awareness energy consumption issues, and directly support non-profit organizations at the same time? With the Nice pilot of the CITYOPT project, we have seen strong suggestions that it can. It also suggests that the sense of belonging to a local community is a strong motivation for […]

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