The invisible computer

The invisible computer

Published 1998

Technologies have a life cycle, says Donald Norman, and companies and their products must change as they pass from youth to maturity. Alas, the computer industry thinks it is still in its rebellious teenage years, exulting in technical complexity. Customers want change. They are ready for products that offer convenience, ease of use, and pleasure. The technology should be invisible, hidden from sight.

In this book, Norman shows why the computer is so difficult to use and why this complexity is fundamental to its nature. The only answer, says Norman, is to start over again, to develop information appliances that fit people's needs and lives. To do this companies must change the way they develop products. They need to start with an understanding of people: user needs first, technology last--the opposite of how things are done now. Companies need a human-centered development process, even if it means reorganizing the entire company. This book shows how.

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"Don Norman's dramatic transformation from design critic to digital designer has made his observations in The Invisible Computer even more insightful and inciteful." -Michael Schrage, Research Associate, MIT Media Lab, and author of Getting Real


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  • Chapter 1: Drop Everything You Are Doing
  • Chapter 7: Being Analog (on this site)
  • Chapter 9: Human-Centered Product Development
  • Chapter 10: Want Human-Centered Design? Reorganize the Company (on The Nielsen Norman Group site)