Chris Peters's Blog

Book Review: The Invisible Computer

October 3, 2006

The Invisible Computer by Donald A. Norman

I love Don Norman’s The Invisible Computer. It is packed with so many great ideas and observations that I cannot share them all with you without writing a book myself. So here are the basic points of the book.

  • The use of personal computers is just now breaking into the mainstream market.
  • Current computer users are early adopters of computing technology.
  • Current technology is way too complex, and it wastes our time and energy.
  • The personal computer is way too generally-purposed, and, as a result, it is not optimized for any given task.
  • The survivors in the tech market will need to balance technology, marketing, and usability in the product development process. Those that poorly executed their marketing early on lost market share.
  • The current standard development process is backwards; we should focus on human factors before actually “building” the physical product, not the other way around. To do this, a complete reorg of your company is required.
  • People are not machines, so our tech products must stop treating them as such.
  • Relatively simple information appliances are the solution.

The story Norman uses to set up his conclusion is wonderful. My list of bullet points does it no justice. Read it for a great insight into how we’ve gotten where we are in the world of technology and where we need to go next. Highly recommended.

Written by Chris Peters, your friendly neighborhood digital marketing professional with over 20 years of experience of web design, programming, SEO, and marketing.