Norman, Don

Norman at the CHI 83 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Norman talks with Clayton Lewis (left) and John Seeley Brown (right) at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in December 1983 in Boston, MA.

Don Norman (1935 – ) is both a businessman – a former Vice President at Apple and Executive at Hewlett-Packard – and an academic, having served as a faculty member at Harvard, University of California at San Diego, Northwestern, and KAIST in South Korea. He is best known for his work in usability engineering, cognitive science, and design strategy. His most recent work emphasizes how designers can contribute to driving gradual and radical innovation within companies.

Norman recently established the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego, which promotes a novel convergence of practice and theory, of Thinking, Observing, and Making: TOM. The Design Lab aims to let TOM define its approach to producing products, services, and systems that advance the state of knowledge and benefit the public. Norman serves as Director of the Design Lab and professor emeritus of psychology, cognitive science, and electrical and computer engineering.

Norman at HCI International August 1987
Norman talks with a colleague at HCI International Conference in Honolulu, HI in August 1987.

He is also co-founder and principal of the user experience/usability consulting firm the Nielsen Norman group, through which Norman coordinates his work as a consultant and keynote speaker. Companies frequently seek out Norman’s expertise in making products more enjoyable, understandable, and profitable.

Norman received the CHI Lifetime Achievement Award, SIGCHI’s most prestigious honor, in 2002. In 2011, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, recognizing him “for development of design principles based on human cognition that enhance the interaction between people and technology.”

His books include Emotional Design, Living with Complexity, and the hugely successful The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded.

 Don is a senior colleague whose early work on cognitive psychology and book on “User Centered System Design” were influential to me and many others.  He became a fierce critic of problems in user interface designs, raising concerns at conferences and writing thoughtful books that often wisely guided designers to think deeper.  He was a helpful mentor, who I appreciated talking with at conferences.  I also enjoyed photographing Don because of his expressive body language and engaging speaking style. – Ben Shneiderman


Education Background:

  • Ph.D. in mathematical psychology, University of Pennsylvania (1962)
  • M.S. in electrical engineering, University of Pennsylvania (1959)
  • S.B. in electrical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1957)


  • Board of Trustees, IIT’s Institute of Design in Chicago (2014 – Present)
  • Founder and Director, The Design Lab at University of California, San Diego (Present)
  • Co-founder and Principal, Nielsen Norman Group (1998 – Present)
  • IDEO Fellow, IDEO (2011 – Present)
  • Professor of Computer Science, Northwestern University (2001 – 2010), Co-Founder Segal Design Institute, Co-Director MBA program, Breed Professor of Design
  • Executive, Hewlett-Packard (1997 – 1998)
  • Vice President and Apple Fellow, Advanced Technology Group (ATG) and Apple Research Laboratories, Apple Computer Inc. (1993 – 1997)
  • Faculty Member, University of California, San Diego (1966 – 1993 and 2014 – Present)
  • Lecturer and Research Fellow, Harvard University (1963 – 1966)

Additional Information:


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s