Don Norman

Country: US

Don Norman sees design everywhere. Norman’s goal is to help transform design from art into an engineering practice, with tools, formal methods, and rigor. At the heart of this approach is human- and activity-centered design. All design, says Norman, whether of a product, a company, a service or an experience is ultimately aimed at satisfying human and societal needs. This approach requires the application of knowledge of cognitive science, engineering, and business with the skills and knowledge of the design field, helping companies produce products and services that satisfy human and societal needs, both practical and emotional.

Business Week calls him a “cantankerous visionary” – cantankerous in his quest for excellence and has listed him as one of the world’s 27 most influential designers. Dr. Norman brings a unique mix of the social sciences and engineering to bear on everyday products. “The well-rounded product,” says Norman, “will enhance the heart as well as the mind, being a joy to behold as well as to use.”

Dr. Norman is cofounder of the Nielsen Norman Group, an executive consulting firm that helps companies produce human-centered products and services. Norman serves as adviser and board member to numerous companies and non-profit organizations. In his consulting, he finds that he mostly advises about the appropriate company strategy and organizational structure. These are what determine the success of the company. Quite often he finds that the people in the company understand how to make better products, but organizational and strategic issues block progress.

Norman has been Vice President of Apple in charge of the Advanced Technology Group and an executive at both Hewlett Packard and UNext (Cardean University: a distance education company). He is also Distinguished Visiting Professor at KAIST, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, in the Department of Industrial Design.

Norman was one of the founders of the Cognitive Science Society and has been chair of the society and editor of its journal, Cognitive Science. He has been a faculty member at Harvard University and is Prof. Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, where he was founding chair of the Department of Cognitive Science and chair of the Department of Psychology. At Northwestern university he was a founder and co-director of the Segal Design Institute, co-director of co-director of MMM, an MBA and Engineering program offered jointly by Northwestern’s schools of Management and Engineering that emphasized design and operations, as well as being a professor of Computer Science in the EECS department.

He is a member of The Industrial Designers Society of America, and fellow of the Design Research Society, Human Factors & Ergonomics Society, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Cognitive Science Society. He has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford).

Norman received a B.S. degree from MIT and an MS degree from the University of Pennsylvania, both in Electrical Engineering. His doctorate, from the University of Pennsylvania, is in Psychology. He has received honorary degrees from the Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands) and the University of Padua (Italy).

In 2006, Norman received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer & Cognitive Science from the Franklin Institute (Philadelphia). In 2005, he received the Franklin V. Taylor Award for outstanding contribution to the field of Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology from the American Psychological Association. In 2002 he received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from SIGCHI, the professional organization for Computer-Human Interaction and the “Mental Health Award” for contributions to business from the Journal Psychology Today.

Dr. Norman was the lead negotiator for Apple in the discussions between the computer and television industries in the development of an Advanced Digital TV system for the United States.

Dr. Norman has published extensively in journals and books, and is the author or co-author of eighteen books, with translations into eighteen languages, including “The Design of Everyday Things,” and “Things That Make Us Smart.” Business Week called his book “The Invisible Computer” “the bible of the ‘post PC’ thinking.” Here, he predicted the rise of information appliances, the common theme today, with digital cameras, navigation systems, and smart phones. His book, “Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things,” marks the transition from usability to aesthetics, but with the emphasis on a well-rounded, cohesive product that looks good, works well, and gives pride to the owner. “The Design of Future Things,” discusses the role that automation plays in such everyday places as the home, and automobile. His book, “Living with Complexity,” will be published in October, 2010. He lives in California, Illinois, and South Korea, but can always be found at