For Don Norman, design is a way of thinking that cuts across all disciplines. He advocates 4 principles: 1. Focus on the people in the system; 2. Address root causes, not symptoms; 3. Recognize the implications for the entire system; 4. Test and refine via rapid prototyping and iteration.

Don Norman is both a businessperson (VP at Apple, Executive at HP) and an academic: Harvard, UC San Diego, Northwestern, KAIST (S. Korea), Tongji (Shanghai). But he is best known for his insight and wisdom about the interaction of technology, education, business, people, and society, delivered in a plain, no-nonsense question-answering and discussion session.

Watch Don in this Vox video, viewed over 9 million times: "It's Not You, Bad Doors are Everywhere"

He is co-founder and principal (emeritus) of the Nielsen Norman consulting group, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cognitive Science Society, ACM, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and the Design Research Society. He serves on company boards, has honorary degrees from Delft, Padua, and San Marino, the lifetime achievement award from ACM’s Computer-Human Interaction group, and the President’s lifetime achievement award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer & Cognitive Science from the Franklin Institute (Philadelphia). 

He has published 20 books translated into 20 languages including Emotional Design and Design of Everyday Things.

(Access full bio via Don's press kit)

Discussion Topics

Design for a Better World

The world is in a mess. Climate Change? Yes, absolutely, but that is the symptom, not the cause. The main difficulty is believing that the earth's resources are infinite so that we could use them freely and discharge waste materials into the waterways and atmosphere. People have been doing this for thousands of years, starting long before the profession of design existed, designing without thinking of the future consequences, therefore unwittingly leading to many of today's crises.

But if it design that got us into today’s mess, perhaps it is design that can get us out, though not the way design is conceived of and practiced today. We need a new form of design, one that understands and can work with the extremely large variety of issues, peoples, politicians, and business people across the world. Yes, it is a design problem, but not what most people think of when they think of design. It is design as a way of thinking, of approaching large sociotechnical systems. Of recognizing each person is a component in the complex system of the world, comprising all living things, the earth, land, and sea, where each component impacts the others. For humankind to exist, the system must be sustainable, resilient, repeatable. Today, it is none of these.

Design must change from being unintentionally destructive to being intentionally constructive. Repairing what has gone wrong. Repairing, collaborating, sustaining. The massive changes that we must make requires us to rethink the fundamentals of our way of life, which means our industries, schools, governments, and the economic systems that measure and define what is considered to be “good.” Because our way of life is artificial, designed by people over the course of history, it can be changed, changed by people over the course of the future.


How can we accomplish this? I present four maxims: 


Design for a Better World: Meaningful, Sustainable, Humanity-Centered

Human behavior brought our world to the brink, human behavior can save us.

The Design of Everyday Things

The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how--and why--some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

Living with Complexity

Why we don't really want simplicity, and how we can learn to live with complexity.

Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things

Emotional Design analyzes the profound influence of this deceptively simple idea, from our willingness to spend thousands of dollars on Gucci bags and Rolex watches to the impact of emotion on the everyday objects of tomorrow.

Request booking info