The first book to tell the story of the ways in which design is reshaping life in the twenty-first century
User Friendly opens with two very different stories. In 1979, a series of failures leads to the catastrophic accident at Three Mile Island; one of the most critical of these failures is a design flaw—a key indicator in the plant’s control room is hidden from the operator’s sight line. In 2018, a giant, futuristic Apple campus is built on the back of sales of the iPhone, the most “user-friendly” device ever made. The two stories are part of one larger narrative—the story of the surprisingly recent innovation of putting users at the center of design.
In User Friendly, Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant unpack the ways in which the world has been—and continues to be—remade according to the principles of a relatively obscure discipline: user experience design. Its spread is intertwined with the sweeping changes of the last century, from women’s rights to the Great Depression and World War II and the rise of the digital era. Its ideals have shaped the world around us, from washing machines to self-driving cars to social media.
Combining the expertise and insight of a leading journalist and a pioneering designer, User Friendly provides a definitive, thoughtful, and practical perspective on a topic that has rapidly gone from arcane to urgent to inescapable. In User Friendly, Kuang and Fabricant tell the whole story for the first time—and you’ll never interact with technology the same way again.