The Barnes & Noble Review
Whatever you're designing -- software or toasters, microprocessors or skyscrapers -- you need to "put user experience front and center," says Bill Buxton. Here, Buxton makes a passionate case for a better way to design interactive products and the experiences surrounding them. The centerpiece is a technique humans have used successfully for centuries: sketching.
Buxton, a trained musician and former chief scientist at SGI and Alias|Wavefront, is now a principal researcher at Microsoft. He's deeply comfortable with all the skills that go into breakthrough design: He's capable of appreciating usability, engineering excellence, and profitability without losing sight of any of them.
In Sketching User Experiences, he begins by assessing the current state of product and software design, good and bad. (There's a case study. Yes, it's Apple. But if you think there's nothing new to say about Apple, you're wrong: Buxton's found plenty.)
Next, he explains why a real design process is so important, and what a good one might look like.
Then, Buxton turns to sketching: design attempts that are quick, timely, inexpensive, disposable, plentiful, and fluid. Sketched designs "don't 'tell,' " he says, "they 'suggest.' " (Are you hearing echoes of some of the ideas organizations are pursuing to manage change more effectively, like agile development? If so, we agree.)
Buxton gradually fleshes out his insights - for example, explaining how sketches and prototypes differ, and showing how to sketch interaction. Then, he returns to case studies: the working methods of some of the great designers he's encountered.
They use many approaches and metaphors -- storytelling, flipbooks, bricolage, "video envisionment." Their assignments range from airline ticket kiosks to "the desk of the future." But each is here for a reason: to share hard-won, rarely discussed wisdom about the process of designing great products, interactions, and experiences. We've never seen anyone capture the field as well. Bill Camarda, from the June 2007 Read Only
From the Publisher
"Bill Buxton and I share a common belief that design leadership together with technical leadership drives innovation. Sketching, prototyping, and design are essential parts of the process we use to create new products. Bill Buxton brings design leadership and creativity to Microsoft. Through his thought-provoking personal examples he is inspiring others to better understand the role of design in their own companies."Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft
“Informed design is essential.” While it might seem that Bill Buxton is exaggerating or kidding with this bold assertion, neither is the case. In an impeccably argued and sumptuously illustrated book, design star Buxton convinces us that design simply must be integrated into the heart of business".Roger Martin, Dean, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
"Design is explained, with the means and manner for successes and failures illuminated by engaging stories, true examples and personal anecdotes. In Sketching User Experiences, Bill Buxton clarifies the processes and skills of design from sketching to experience modeling, in a lively and informative style that is rich with stories and full of his own heart and enthusiasm. At the start we are lost in mountain snows and northern seas, but by the end we are equipped with a deep understanding of the tools of creative design."Bill Moggridge, Cofounder of IDEO and author of Designing Interactions
"I love this book. There are very few resources available that see across and through all of the disciplines involved in developing great experiences. This is complex stuff and Buxton's work is both informed and insightful. He shares the work in an intimate manner that engages the reader and you will find yourself nodding with agreement, and smiling at the poignant relevance of his examples."Alistair Hamilton, Symbol Technologies, NY
"Like any secret society, the design community has its strange rituals and initiation procedures. Bill opens up the mysteries of the magical process of design, taking us through a land in which story telling, orange squeezers, the Wizard of oOz, I-pods, avalanche avoidance, bicycle suspension sketching, and faking it are all points on the design pilgrim’s journey. There are lots of ideas and techniques in this book to feed good design and transform the way we think about creating useful stuff. "