Join getAbstract to access the summary!

I Wrote the Book on User-Friendly Design. What I See Today Horrifies Me

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

I Wrote the Book on User-Friendly Design. What I See Today Horrifies Me

Fast Company,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To keep up with aging consumer bases, companies need innovative, user-friendly design. 

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Engaging


In 1990, cognitive scientist and usability engineer Don Norman wrote the first edition of his seminal book, The Design of Everyday Things. In this article, he offers a frank – and slightly cantankerous – assessment of the current state of design for seniors and advocates for more stylish and inclusive products. He occasionally lapses into speculation, for example when he suggests that canes could become chic and coveted accessories for all and doesn’t address potential obstacles to universal design implementation. Nonetheless he provides useful examples, recommendations and a generally compelling argument that anyone in the design, production or venture capital industries may find relevant.


As life expectancy increases in many developed nations, the global elder population is rising. A growing segment of consumer markets – a segment that by and large also has more leisure time and spending power relative to younger groups – may experience age-related difficulties such as declining hand-eye coordination and deteriorating vision.

Unfortunately, most products aren’t designed to accommodate these current and projected needs. Consumer goods come with packaging that’s challenging for elders to open, with labels that...

About the Author

Don Norman is an award-winning designer, cognitive engineer, researcher, professor and former Apple vice president. He authored many acclaimed books, including The Design of Everyday Things. 

Comment on this summary

  • Avatar
  • Avatar
    S. S. 2 years ago
    I enjoyed this well-written, thought provoking summary and went on to read the article. It's inspiring to see Don Norman still leading the way in design. He gives practical examples of how we interact with technology and the world as we age, and illustrates how important considering these factors is when designing products. He also illustrates ways in which inclusive design is good design that can be helpful to people at various stages of life.

More on this topic

Learners who read this summary also read

Related Channels