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Posted March 7, 2011
Not just how to make it pretty
Anyone who reads the title Designing Interfaces and assumes that it is a book about graphic design and how to make pretty interfaces would be completely wrong. The last chapter is the only chapter that focuses on the visual aesthetics of an interface; all the other chapters cover various design patterns that aid in usability, and understanding of the user interface. The first chapter, for example, is devoted to users: how they are likely to interact with software and what expectations users may have, and what can be done to make the interface more intuitive. Other chapters deal with such topics as content organization, page layout, navigation, and data display. Each chapter is broken into two sections. The first section is the "big picture": the underlying ideas and reasons of the chapter, and - more importantly - why they are important. The next section consists of the design patterns. Each pattern is broken into five, usually short, sections: what, use when, why, how, examples, and other references for each pattern. Each pattern's description is short enough that you won't skip over any that you are already familiar with. Instead you will read through them and either feel good about using them already, or pick up new ideas on how to improve upon what you already have. The examples used are all modern, relevant, and do a great job at illustrating the pattern being discussed. Jenifer Tidwell does an excellent job explaining the solutions to many of the design issues that a lot of developers seem to implement poorly. From the graphic designers creating the overall look and feel, to the programmer creating a form to be submitted, I highly recommend reading this book to anyone who ever has to make a decision about how a user will interact with any portion of an application.
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Posted June 26, 2006
Interfaces need Design
I've always been analytical about user interfaces, and human interfaces in general. Donald Norman's book 'The Design of Everyday Things' is an excellent read for how the things we operate with on a daily basis have unintuitive ways of operation. This book, 'Designing Interfaces', shows the pitfalls of navigation and user interaction on the computer environment. One of the major computer magazines (I believe it was PC World) used to have a regular section on renovating a user interface to make it more understandable. This book seems to be the logical follow-up to the ideas there. One caveat: the printing process used for this book was shoddy, with color diagrams printed with offsets that make them look blurry on the page. The content is valuable, but the way it's illustrated in the book sometimes makes it difficult to understand because of this.
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Posted May 19, 2006
VERY VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
Do you design user interfaces in any capacity? If you do, then this book is for you! Author Jenifer Tidwell, has done an outstanding job of writing a book that will help you design attractive, easy-to-use interfaces. Tidwell, begins by discussing common behavior and usage patterns supported well by good interfaces. Then, the author discusses information architecture as it applies to highly interactive interfaces. She continues by discussing navigation. Next, the author describes patterns for the layout and placement of page elements. Then she describes how to present actions and commands. She also discusses the cognitive aspects of data presentation, and how to use them to communicate knowledge and meaning. Then, she deals with forms and controls. The author continues by discussing techniques and patterns often used in WYSIWYG graphic editors and text editors. Finally, the author deals with aesthetics and fit-and-finish. This most excellent book will be a valuable resource for software developers, interaction designers, graphic designers, and everyone who creates software. Furthermore, you should use this dynamic book when you're looking for solutions!
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