About Don Norman

I have lived multiple lives: University professor, Industry executive, consultant, keynote speaker, and author. I have been an electrical engineer, a psychology, cognitive scientist, computer scientist, and designer. I retired from the University of California, San Diego in 1993, returned in 2014 to become the founding Director of the Design Lab: I retired in the seventh year of my five-year appointment on Dec. 31, 2020. I have also retired from Northwestern University, from the Nielsen Norman group, and from being a trustee at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology. I now have retired five times and have the title "emeritus" from all four places.

What will I do on this fifth retirement? I will still keep working, but I will focus on 3 major issues:

  1. Rethinking Design Education: I am co-founder and co-director of a major, international activity, co-sponsored by the UC San Diego Design Lab, IBM Design, and the World Design Organization (WDO) to rethink design education across all the many programs in design in the world. We have recruited a Steering Committee of 16 senior designers from industry and academia plus 600 volunteers from all across the world. This initiative will take several years to complete. See:  
       Meyer, M., & Norman, D. (2020, March). Changing design education for the 21st century. She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation,  6,  13-39. doi:10.1016
  2. Building the San Diego Design community to increase diversity, starting by building the educational pipeline from K-12 through colleges and universities (https://www.designforwardsd.com/). One goal is for San Diego/Tijuana to become the World Design Capital for 2024, Applications are due to the sponsoring organization, WDO, at the end of March 2021. But we already have considerable community support, including the mayors of San Diego and Tijuana and many other civic organizations.
  3. Writing a book about the role that design plays in the current state of the world, and how it can contribute to helping to address the major societal issues. Maybe. See my writings on this website.

My formal education is in Electrical Engineering and Psychology. I've served as a faculty member at Harvard, University of California, San Diego, Northwestern, and KAIST (South Korea). I've also worked in industry as a VP at Apple and an executive at HP and a startup).

I am co-founder and principal of the User Experience/Usability consulting firm, the Nielsen Norman group, where I am now emeritus. I have been an IDEO fellow and  a member of the Board of Trustees of IIT's Institute of Design in Chicago (now emeritus at IIT). My latest books are "Living with Complexity" and "The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded": See https://jnd.org/tag/book/


Academic Résumé (a PDF File)

Biographical sketches (a Microsoft Word file)

Contact Information, Consulting, and Talks

Go to: "Consulting and Talks".


Photographs suitable for publication
Permission for use is hereby granted.

Family Websites

Mike Norman's Motorcycle blog: G-Force Engine development
Cyndi Norman Norwitz's Immune website

About Nielsen Norman Group

A rather old photograph of Bruce (Tog), me, and Jakob, in that order.

Jakob Nielsen and I formed the Nielsen Norman group in 1998 to help companies create better products, services, and websites. Bruce Tognazzini (Tog) joined us a bit later: in the photo, the three of us are lined up in this order: Tognazzini, Norman, and Nielsen.

We are user advocates. We help companies move toward human-centered products and internet interaction, the better to play a major role in the new world of customer-centered goods and services.

Jakob works on websites and other internet products and applications. I am most interested in consumer products. Most of my consulting is at the executive level, for the biggest problem with the development of services and products has to do with company organization and culture. Invariably I start off assessing the technologies and end up recommending administrative and organizational change. My experience ranges from household goods to human error and safety -- I have worked on nuclear power plant control rooms, aviation, and hospital systems. I bring to bear considerable practical experience as a VP at Apple, and executive at HP, and experience at startups ranging from executive, to adviser, to board of directors. And to the experience a theoretical grounding in cognitive science, computer science, and design, as well as multiple years co-directing a dual-degree MBA program at Northwestern University (students got a Kellogg MBA plus an engineering degree: I was the director from the school of engineering, teaching design thinking to the MBAs).

The Nielsen Norman group shares a common goal: by focusing upon people, we create products and services that enhance customer satisfaction, that maintain relationships, and increase sales.

Success in human-centered design requires giving equal weight to user experience, marketing and technology: The result is increased customer satisfaction, coupled with lower costs and rapid time to market. The major barriers to success are not technological: they are social, political, and organizational.

What does jnd.org mean?

In the field of psychophysics, that branch of experimental psychology that studies sensation and perception, a jnd is the amount that something must be changed for the difference to be noticeable, defined to mean that the change is detectable half the time. My goal is to make a noticeable difference -- many jnds worth -- in human-centered technology.

I started my career as an experimental/mathematical psychologist in psychophysics, and my love of the exquisite sensitivity and dynamic range of hearing and seeing, as well as the power of human perception has stayed with me.

For the definition of jnd as used in psychophysics, see the Wikipedia definition.

About this site

Coded by Matthew Goddard (matt@matthewgoddard.net), who also maintains the site.

Reporting Problems With This Site:

Report problems to webmaster@jnd.org


Updated March 16, 2020

I am cutting back on most of my activities in order to concentrate on a small number of important, labor-intensive activities:

  1. Rethinking Design Education  (https://www.futureofdesigneducation.org/)
  2. Building the Design community in the San Diego region (https://www.designforwardsd.com/)
  3. Writing a new book

All travel is postponed indefinitely.