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From Barnes & NobleThe 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