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Book Review: User Interface Design For Programmers

  • December 19, 2001
  • By Developer.com Staff
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Written by: John Corrigan

This is a very short, highly readable book that contains a wealth of information and tips on user interface design. The book is about designing user interfaces in general, although one chapter at the end specifically targets web design. The author writes in a light, talkative style that is easily understandable by anyone. This book will show you that you don't need to be an artsy, graphic designer to produce a good user interface.

Some of the particularly interesting items were those describing aligning the program model to the user model and the chapters on usability tests, the process of designing a product and understanding UI time warps (basically, this concerns the amount of time/complexity spent on the interface versus the time the user actually uses/learns it. There are no code samples, as this is a general design book. However, there are also lots of screen shots (in color) throughout the book that show a lot of the concepts (good and bad).

As you read the book, you can't help but think how most of the information is common sense. Then, I started thinking of some of my current applications where I had not followed the recommendations in the book and realized that I could have done a much better job had I made some slight modifications.

In each chapter, the author generally presents some simple rules that summarize the content of that chapter. I think that just pulling these out of each chapter, putting them on a list and reviewing them as you design applications would help in creating a better interface.

This book is well worth the few hours that it takes to read it. As I said, a lot of it seems common sense and will be things you've read or heard before, but it is always good to refresh your memory about good design practices. Additionally, a review your own applications interfaces against the proposals made in the book may result in your questioning why you did something a certain way and may prompt you to re-think your design - I know that I did so.

Title: User Interface Design For Programmers
Author: Joel Spolsky
ISBN: 1-893115-94-1
Publisher: APress
For More Information click Here

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