I live several lives:
- University Professor
- Company advisor and board member;
- Keynote speaker;
- Author of books and columns.
I am Director of the newly established (2014) Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego. See http://designlab.ucsd.edu. I'm also co-founder of the Nielsen Norman group and an honorary Professor at Tongji University (Shanghai) in their College of Design and Innovation. And I serve on the boards and as advisor to companies and organizations.
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). Today my emphasis is on helping technology companies structure their product lines and business. My major emphasis is design strategy: how designers and design thinking can help drive both incremental and radical innovation within the company.
I've retired twice, once from the University of California, San Diego (where I was founder and chair of the department of Cognitive Science) and once from Northwestern University, where i was a professor of Computer Science and Design, co-directing the MMM dual degree program between the School of Engineering and the Kellogg School of Management, a program that gave students both an MBA and engineering degree, with the focus on design and operation. And, as the opening sentence of this biography suggests, I'm back at UC San Diego.
I am co-founder and principal of the User Experience/Usability consulting firm, the Nielsen Norman group, which is the home for my consulting and keynote talks. I'm an IDEO fellow and a member of the Board of Trustees of IIT's Institute of Design in Chicago. My latest books are "Living with Complexity" and "The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded."
BiographyBiographical sketches (a Microsoft Word file)
Academic Résumé (a PDF file)
See the "Consulting and Talks".
Photographs suitable for publication
Permission for use is hereby granted.
About Nielsen Norman Group
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 advisor, 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.
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