"To Be Determined: The Power of Late Binding in Design”


Why is the title of my talk "To Be Determined"? Because it fits my design philosophy: delay and postpone, not out of laziness, not as procrastination, but as a deliberate design technique. One of the hardest parts of design is to get the specifications right, to ensure that it is the correct problem that is being solved. This means delaying the statement of the problem, delaying the design specifications until as late as possible, ideally after considerable observations, considerable prototyping, testing, and revision. In HCI we have lots of techniques for solving problems. Design researchers have lots of techniques for doing observations. But what techniques do we really have for determining that it is the correct problem that is being solved? Answer? To be determined.


Don is the champion of human-centered design. Business Week has listed him as one of the world’s 27 most influential designers. “The well-rounded product,” says Norman, “will enhance the heart as well as the mind, being a joy to behold as well as to use.”

Don directs the recently established Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego, where he is also professor emeritus of both psychology and cognitive science. He is cofounder of the Nielsen Norman Group, former vice president of Apple and former executive at Hewlett-Packard. Norman serves as an IDEO Fellow, an honorary professor at Tongji University (Shanghai), and is on company boards and advisory boards. He served as chair of the Psychology Department and founder and chair of the Cognitive Science Department at UCSD.

At Northwestern University, Don is the Breed Professor of Design, emeritus and professor of EECS, emeritus. He has been Distinguished Visiting Professor of Industrial Design at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He has honorary degrees from the University of Padua (Italy) and the Technical University of Delft (the Netherlands); the Lifetime Achievement Award from SIGCHI, the professional organization for Computer-Human Interaction; and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science from the Franklin Institute (Philadelphia). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Association for Computing Machinery; the American Psychological Association; the Association for Psychological Science; the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society; and the Design Research Society. He serves on the Board of Trustees at IIT’s Institute of Design in Chicago.

He is well known for his books The Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design. His book, Living with Complexity, argues that complexity is desirable: the role of the designer is to make complex things understandable. His latest book is an expanded and revised edition of Design of Everyday Things. He lives at www.jnd.org.