How Design Makes the World

Scott Berkun

Everything you use, from your home to your smartphone, from highways to supermarkets, was designed by someone. What did they get right? Where did they go wrong? And what can we learn from how these experts think that can help us improve our own lives?

In How Design Makes the World, bestselling author and designer Scott Berkun reveals how designers, from software engineers to city planners, have succeeded and failed us. From the airplane armrest to the Facebook “like” button, and everything in between, Berkun shows how design helps or hinders everyone, and offers a new way to think about the world around you.

Whether you spend time in a studio or a boardroom, an office or the outdoors, How Design Makes the World empowers you to ask better questions—and to understand the designs in everything that matters.


“Nobody’s better at explaining how the world really works than Scott Berkun.”

“What makes a Jacuzzi better than a Segway? Why do street grids work in some cities, but maybe not in yours? What’s wrong with calling an interface ‘intuitive’? This fascinating book will help you see design everywhere and question why it works—or why it fails.”

“An invaluable, essential resource that demystifies and democratizes design for everyone who lives with it—which is to say, all of us.”

“Scott Berkun captures the essence of what makes design so incredibly important in our lives. He frames how we should think about design in a fun and accessible way. How Design Makes the World explains why our world is the way it is, and lays out the questions we need to ask to make it better.”


“Everyone in the tech world knows that they need design, but few understand what it is and how it will help them succeed. Scott Berkun illuminates both the problem and the solution. A brilliant book.”

Anyone can understand the designed world with this insightful and compelling primer. The daring will use their new understanding to analyze and improve their own worlds.”

Design does indeed make the world, and Scott Berkun has written a highly readable book about this fact.”

Design impacts everyone, but does everyone understand good design? If they read this book, they will.”

Scott Berkun shows the true impact of design on the world and makes it fun to discover a new way to think and see.”

Whether you’re figuring out what ‘design’ even means or you’re a designer looking to better explain what you do, you’ll be enlightened and entertained.”

After reading How Design Makes the World, you’ll know who to thank when you make the perfect toast, who to blame when you miss your flight, and who to ridicule when you see that Segway tour drive on by.”

To write a concise, engaging yet insightful book about something as unwieldy, yet fundamentally important as design is quite an art, and Scott Berkun has done it. He makes clear design’s impact using real-world examples of toasters and cities, door handles, and health care systems, social media and seat belts.”

Reading How Design Makes the World inspires you to see everyday things in a new way, helping you to ask the right questions. How does it work and for whom? Will it work for years to come? And most of all, you’ll see how beautifully designed things come from beautiful teams.”


Scott Berkun is the bestselling author of eight books, including Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a Public Speaker, and The Year without Pants. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Wired, Fast Company, The Economist, Forbes, and other media. He has taught creative thinking at the University of Washington and has been a regular commentator on CNBC, MSNBC, and NPR. His many popular essays and entertaining lectures can be found on his blog at

ISBN 978-0-9838731-8-1
$21.99 CAD $18.99 USD
Published May 5, 2020
5.5 × 8.5 210 Pages
Paperback, ebook