AskTog: First Principles of Interaction Design
To be honest, this is a boring list of things to read through. Some seem obvious and common sense. But you'll find that in design, often times, obvious is shadowed by functionality and common sense is hard when you have constraints. This might have been better reading if it contained examples, like in The Design of Everyday Things.
But what I noticed was that these principles were very similar to those of game design. I can't pinpoint the article this afternoon, since I read it close to six years ago. But there was an article on gamasutra that talked about how hard it was to design games to make the player happy.
The game designer has to balance the hardness of the game. Too challenging, the game will be unobvious and frustrating (like this game was purported to be). Too trivial, the game will lose the interest of its players quickly (like Eat the stick.
I remember another thing about consistency. One game designer was talking about how he met a gamer, and the gamer had the idea that once you go to another section of the game, all the properties of the spells you could cast would change. The game designer went into detail about how this was one of the worst mistakes that early game designers make. Consistency affords a sense of building up a knowledge of the world around you from a player point of view.
If every time you went to another section of the game, and you had to relearn the mechanics of the game all over again, it would probably piss you off.
In a lot of ways, there are parallels between game design and application design. I also remember all those comic strips in the 90's satirizing how kids can't get jobs playing video games growing up. I think that's more and more untrue, with the way the gaming industry is unfolding. The idea the games are a diversion and are for children will be a thing of the past.