Don Norman

• Engaging discussions about design that emphasizes the needs and positive experiences of people. For products, services, management, and society.

• Former Apple VP, distinguished Professor & author of the best selling 'Design of Everyday Things'

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 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 8 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)

Speech topics

Don Norman has redefined the notion of a "talk"

Don finds that talks to unknown audiences can be wrong for the audience, no matter how excellent the talk. So instead, he has devised a method that ensures that his thoughts are relevant: He engages in discussion with the audience by answering questions. He has done this with everything from small, executive meetings to large public ones, including one talk in India to over 3,000 people (all on Zoom).

Advance preparation is required to make this work.

1. A scheduled pre-event discussion with the organizers to discuss the type of audience and the themes and topics that will be of interest. Norman likes to see material in advance of the talk -- company descriptions, examples of projects, and anything that will help him address the answers in ways most relevant to the audience.

2. A person assigned to moderate the question asking by selecting questions from the audience (often submitted in real-time over chat). The moderator can either read the question or (even better) call upon the person who submitted the question to ask it (displaying that person on the screen). This way it feels like a person-to-person conversation.

3. The interaction should start with a few prepared questions to get things going and to give the audience time to break their hesitancy to interact.

Topics: Norman's extensive background in business and academia, serving as a senior executive, on company boards, and advising organizations and universities across the world allows him to discuss a wide range of topics. One reason for the pre-event discussion and the preparation is to ensure that Norman that the discussion will remain within Norman's sphere of expertise.

Four Maxims to change the world

Metrics. We must change the success metric for countries and companies away from economic measures of GDP, monetary profit, and stock market indices. We must replace today’s metrics with psychological ones that focus upon societal criteria such as wellness, health, education, security, and happiness.

System Thinking. The world is a complex, intertwined system where everything we do is a part of a system. Our actions change the system and the system, in turn, changes us. We must design with an appreciation of the multiple interactions and resulting system dynamics that have impacts removed from our work.

Ways of thinking, behaving, and believing. Because we were born into the existing ways of behaving and believing, we assume they are natural and appropriate. If we are to overcome the harm that has occurred to the environment and people’s lives across the world, we must completely rethink and redo our basic premises and ways of being.

Holistic design done by and with people. We need a holistic design with a wide range of expertise about government and law, economics and engineering, health and education. The design must be led with and by the people for whom it is intended. Let the experts be mentors and facilitators, not dictators.


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.

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.

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