Type Book
Date 1988
Pages 257
Tags nonfiction, interface design

The Psychology of Everyday Things

It is important that our explanations for things be correct, not merely convincing or reassuring:

Once we have an explanation—correct or incorrect—for otherwise discrepant or puzzling events, there is no more puzzle, no more discrepancy. As a result, we are complacent, at least for a while.

On confirmation and undo:

In computer systems, it is common to prevent errors by requiring confirmation before a command will be executed, especially when the action will destroy a file. But the request is ill timed; it comes just after the person has initiated the action and is still fully content with the choice.

It would be more appropriate to eliminate irreversible actions: in this example, the request to remove a file would be handled by the computer's moving the file to some temporary holding place. Then the user would have time for reconsideration and recovery.

Index entries (formatted)

Term Location
hypertext 212–213
Name Role
BasicBooks Publisher
Donald A. Norman Author