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Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design [Paperback]

Jenifer Tidwell
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Dec 2005 0596008031 978-0596008031 1

Designing a good interface isn't easy. Users demand software that is well-behaved, good-looking, and easy to use. Your clients or managers demand originality and a short time to market. Your UI technology -- web applications, desktop software, even mobile devices -- may give you the tools you need, but little guidance on how to use them well.

UI designers over the years have refined the art of interface design, evolving many best practices and reusable ideas. If you learn these, and understand why the best user interfaces work so well, you too can design engaging and usable interfaces with less guesswork and more confidence.

Designing Interfaces captures those best practices as design patterns -- solutions to common design problems, tailored to the situation at hand. Each pattern contains practical advice that you can put to use immediately, plus a variety of examples illustrated in full color. You'll get recommendations, design alternatives, and warningson when not to use them.

Each chapter's introduction describes key design concepts that are often misunderstood, such as affordances, visual hierarchy, navigational distance, and the use of color. These give you a deeper understanding of why the patterns work, and how to apply them with more insight.

A book can't design an interface for you -- no foolproof design process is given here -- but Designing Interfaces does give you concrete ideas that you can mix and recombine as you see fit. Experienced designers can use it as a sourcebook of ideas. Novice designers will find a roadmap to the world of interface and interaction design, with enough guidance to start using these patterns immediately.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (1 Dec 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596008031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596008031
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 20 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"This is a definitely good book to study before you set out to design some new application or website and maybe an inspiration to revisit existing material." - John Collins, news@UK, September 2006

From the Publisher

This convenient resource offers advice on creating user-friendly interface designs--whether they're delivered on the Web, a CD, or a "smart" devices like a cell phone. Solutions to common UI design problems are expressed as a collection of patterns--each one containing concrete examples, recommendations, and warnings. Intended for designers with basic UI design knowledge.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the meat? 25 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It has to be said that this is a nicely presented book - glossy, colourful. Curiously for a book about interaction/usability i found parts of it hard to read - i actually got lost on one page as to which was the next piece of text to read. (Bit ironic!)
My real dissatisfaction with the book lies in its lack of meaty content. I have been designing and coding UIs for many years but i expected to pick up some insights. I don't think i learned anything - it is all mere common sense. I had hoped for more. If this is the best UI book at the moment, then I'll save my money and not buy another. Maybe if you are new to the subject you will find it informative.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best interface book on the market today 3 Aug 2006
Jenifer has been asking for pattern contributions on the various special-interest lists since 2002. This book is the brilliant culmination of her work. Not only can she write, she talked O'Reilly into including hundreds of color illustrations to help clarify the concepts and techniques. A beautiful and thoroughly useful book that should be on every web designer's bookshelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By mko
Format:Kindle Edition
Patterns are present within IT industry for quite some time. Typically, books related to patterns application refer to particular language and present patterns either using either the language they refer to or using UML. Jenifer takes a different approach. Instead of providing reader with technology specific solution she shows how different UI related aspects can be organized and turned into reusable patterns. In first chapter, you will find description of various motives that drive users. This is the entry point for the rest of the book. How to react correctly to user's requirements (expectations) is a leading motive of the book. Following chapters focus on various aspects of UI design (e.g. navigating, retrieving user's input, presenting data, listing data). What is worth mentioning here is that Jenifer doesn't bind solutions to a particular technology or operating system. She tries to diversify and cover most common user environments. Of course, she shows examples that are based on real applications but these are used rather as an example instead of being one and only one proper solution.

What I like in the book is the way Jenifer presents the patterns. She goes with them, one by one, using structured schema: what will be covered by particular pattern, when is it used, why is it used, how should you use it, how does it look like (by example), and the reference to other sources mentioning given pattern. In general, this is good book, however I think that some conclusions are not solidly proven (especially related to user's behavior). On the other hand, UI efficiency is not something that you can easily prove.
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11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read 10 April 2007
I found this book extremely difficult to read. The typeface was not easy on the eye. It's sans serif, slightly wider than standard and not quite black. Coupled with this, the pages are a bit wider than usual so you have to follow the line further. I was looking at the words rather than reading, which proved such hard work that I gave up.

Dipping into the book randomly suggests that it contains pearls of wisdom but I'm amazed that a book on designing user interfaces has been too poorly presented to be easily readable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
163 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of user interface design book 4 Dec 2005
By calvinnme - Published on
This book is different from most books on designing user interfaces since the ideas are presented as design patterns, much as you would see in Gamma's classic book on the subject had it been adapted to human-computer interfacing rather than programming. Each of the patterns and techniques presented in this book are intended to help the reader solve common design problems. Patterns and techniques are presented for web sites, desktop applications, and everything in between such as web forms, Flash, and applets. The user interface design patterns presented in this book are intended to be read by people who have some knowledge of UI design concepts and terminology: dialogs, selection, combo boxes, navigation bars, whitespace, branding, and so on. The book does not identify many widely-accepted techniques such as copy-and-paste, as it is assumed that you probably already know what this is. However, some common techniques are described here to encourage their use in other contexts -- for instance, desktop apps could make better use of Toplevel Navigation -- or to discuss them alongside alternative solutions. If you're running short on ideas, or hung up on a difficult design problem, skimming this book and its design patterns may help you produce a good solution.
Each pattern is presented with an image showing a possible implementation, a "Use When" section, a "Why" section, and a "How" section with very high level tool-independent implementation instructions. The patterns are organized into groups by function - organizing content, getting around, organizing the page, getting input from users, showing complex data, commands and action, direct manipulation, and stylistic elements.
I would highly recommend this logically structured book to anyone from programmer to graphic artist who might be involved in user interface design.
91 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Widgets and aesthetics 21 Dec 2005
By Brett Merkey - Published on
This book is lavishly illustrated and fun to read. The sections are color-coded and there are few pages without at least one full-color illustration. So often, Web app team workers and managers get grey on grey and so often our output reflects that.

There are flow patterns, layout patterns, widget patterns galore. All good, but the chapter that gave me the most food for thought was the last, "Making It Look Good: Visual Style and Aesthetics." A Stanford study indicates that the most important factor in Web site credibility is the appearance of the site. This is probably also true of Web applications, but not in the same way. I have often had to go toe to toe with developers and executive managers who want to jazz things up with a far heavier, "more impressive" graphical treatment. VPs and marketers want something snazzy to show clients -- but they forget that someone who actually has to *use* an application in their workday may not find "snazzy" to be attractive at all.

Reading this chapter gave me more confidence that the choices in typography, color balance, contrast, and whitespace our teams arrived at through much effort have been correct and beneficial ones.
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for designers... 9 Nov 2006
By Manny Hernandez - Published on
I arrived at "Designing Interfaces" with a hunger for detail and references as we head deep into revising the interface of a whole section of a web site I am in charge of. And the timing couldn't have been better. Jenifer (with one "n") Tidwell is right on the money when it comes to offering a broad range of options to address just about any interface design need you may run into. Her experience working with Matlab's Mathworks didn't limit her to offering advice for client software interface design.

Tidwell goes well beyond it, delving into web design and mobile interface waters, which she swims with equal comfort and efficiency. As a matter of fact, at times the presentation of samples from alternate media/platforms (client software or mobile) pulls those of us who are more comfortable within web application development out of our comfort zone, presenting us with innovative ways to solve old problems.

All in all, this becomes a must reference for anyone needing to learn or polish skills in software interface design for any medium. And this is not limited to designers: I am an Application Development Manager and I learned a lot from "Designing Interfaces" too.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jump-started my problem-solving process 20 Mar 2007
By sonya34 - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having already read through the first few chapters, today I sat down with an explicit need: to solve a problem that involved searching and filtering a large set of data. This book came through for me. Yes, some of it appears obvious when you first read through, but once you have a specific problem to address, its true utility emerges. I opened to the Showing Complex Data chapter, and as I read through, ideas began to form. Some came directly from the book, others were inspired by or related to what I was reading. I took notes, and those notes helped me develop the questions about the data and the users I need to answer in order to continue.

When you're faced with a design challenge, and you're a bit stymied as to how to proceed, this book will help move the solution forward. Even if you think you have a solution, this book can help you make it fresh and creative.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Novice Reviews 10 Nov 2006
By Danny Armstrong - Published on
This book takes an admirable stab at removing the arbitrariness in building an interface from scratch. Tidwell lucidly examines common gestalt design principles and their ramifications in actual designs of web pages, mobile devices and other graphical interface technologies. Proximity, for example, can mean the difference between intuitively linking items in an interface or intuitively creating a distinction between them. Other reviewers bash her for pointing out the obvious, but it is the cataloging, enumerating, condensing of the obvious (sprinkled with the insights of a professional) which makes this book helpful to anyone daunted by the task of making an app that is the Gmail to the quotidian, more-awful-to-use-by-the-second Hotmail.
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