Don Norman is my hero.

Bruce Nussbaum

Anyone into design knows Don Norman. When I was in Beijing last week at the Design for the new China Markets conference, Tom MacTavish, the VP leading Motorola Lab's Center for Human Interaction Research (including a big lab in Shanghai) gave a stupendous presentation on what Motorola was doing in China. At the end, if my memory serves me right, he was talking about emotion and said that he planned to read Don Norman's now classic book, Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things.

So I was moving through Norman's site tonight and came across this criticism that I had somehow missed. Norman and I were at a Chicago conference (yeah, I go to a lot of conferences and learn a lot at them) where he surprised me by criticizing the IDEA awards put on by the IDSA and written up by me in Business Week. At the conference, Norman said that products won mostly on looks and their actual effectiveness was never really tested. Did they work? How do you know? And why didn't I write about that stuff. He says the same thing on his blog. Check it out.

Of course, Norman is right. The IDSA does a wonderful job in this contest and the juries do amazing work in analyzing the submissions. Kristina Goodrich, the executive director, in particular, is a hero. But products are rarely, if ever, tested for validity. It would be a hugely expensive and complex task. In a perfect world, the IDSA would do it and I would report it. But we don't live in a perfect world so the jurors use what information they have to make their decisions.

I think I said this to Norman at the conference and then said he should be part of a jury to get his point of view across. Of course, I don't appoint any juries and don't sit on any, the IDSA does. But I did mention it to the IDSA. Alas, they had already picked last year's jury. But there is the IDEA jury for 2006 coming up. How about it Don? Wanna join in, get in the game and try and make the selections better?

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