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Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques [Paperback]

Kevin Mullet , Darrell Sano
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Dec 1994 0133033899 978-0133033892 1

For anyone responsible for designing, specifying, implementing, documenting, or managing the visual appearance of computer-based information displays.

Ironically, many designers of graphical user interfaces are not always aware of the fundamental techniques that are applied to communication-oriented visual design — techniques that can be used to enhance the visual quality of GUIs, data displays, and multimedia documents. This book describes some of the most important design rules and techniques that are drawn from the rational, functionalist design aesthetic seen in modern graphic design, industrial design, interior design, and architecture — and applies them to various graphical user interface problems experienced in commercial software development.

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1 edition (5 Dec 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0133033899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0133033892
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 19.7 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 758,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the top five books in GUI design 28 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This is a great book if you know how to use it. Its not for people looking for cookbook approaches. Rather, it provides well argued information about the underlying principles of visual design. The authors ilustrate their points about grids, layout, typography, and color by showing examples of top notch efforts by some of the best information designers in the world.
Classic examples like the London subway maps and the National Park Service brochures are illustrated, along with excellent explanations of the design principles that make these particular design so successful.
The aurthors then go on to show how these examples can be applied to GUI design. And they are very gutsy as they show actual examples from actual software products that are "design failures". In fairness, they also show examples of well designed software, with explanations of why the design works so well.
This book is for a person who's willing to invest some time to learn about things like information hierarchies and information design. Like playing a piano, this isn't something one can master over night, but also like playing a piano, it has its own vast rewards.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
*Designing Visual Interfaces* deserves a wider audience. Its promotion of visual literacy for GUI designers is a worthwhile cause. Every GUI designer, which includes most programmers these days, should read this book!

*Designing Visual Interfaces* is a "nuts and bolts" design book with lots
of examples of bad and good interface design in present-day Graphical
User Interfaces. The authors attempt grand analogies with media that
offer richer opportunities for design--posters, timetables, appliances.
Sometimes it seems that returning to the same old dialogue boxes
is a bit of a come-down in the design world, the need to shove a lot
of info into a few pixels. Nonetheless, the book has lots of good
advice. Perhaps the reason it hasn't found wider readership is
that its own printing format, using small black and white images,
doesn't do justice to the careful thought they've put into their

The authors both worked on the Open Look standard, which is not my
favorite GUI. But fortunately their book is not a brief for that
standard. And they do have some good criticism of Microsoft Windows--well merited!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
There's something irritating about a book on graphical design of interfaces that refuses to use chapter numbers in the Table of Contents (or for that matter anywhere except the first page of each chapter) even though the text references them. Unfortunately the authors also fail in the contents to fully integrate these two aspects of design.
The book really reads like two: examples of bad interface design, and a smorgasbord of interesting examples and tidbits from the graphic design lexicon. The former struck me as mostly common sense, while the latter just whet my appetite to read the sources in the bibliography.
Overall: worthwhile looking at, but not something I would actually refer to while designing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the sequel 7 Oct 1997
By A Customer
So far the best text-book about GUI I found. It is rich and comprehensive, connects GUI design with modern design in general. Teches simple guidelines easily understandable by non-professionals. I had this book be a required textbook in the company I work for, for anybody that wants to take part to the UI design and review. The only problem: the book presents many many examples of "bad" UI design. We would like a sequel presenting more "good" design examples.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you design graphical UIs, you need this book 11 Feb 1998
By A Customer
This is the best book I've ever seen on how to design the graphical part of graphical user interfaces. I knew there was a whole world of knowledge out there in the graphic design community that could be applied to interface design, but that was inacessible to me until I read this book.
This is NOT an introductory book on interface design. If you haven't had coursework or other design experience yet, you should pick up a more comprehensive and introductory book first.
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By A Customer
I didn't expect too much from this book when I saw it's cover... for a book on visual design, it's pretty badly designed! But it turned out to be the best book on the subject I've seen-- it draws heavily from graphic and industrial design (and could just about be a textbook on either one of those courses). But it also shows the direct applicability of those fields to the design of dialogs, icons etc. Very readable, and beautifully presented.
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5.0 out of 5 stars required reading for all developers 17 Aug 1998
By A Customer
This book clearly shows good and bad ways to communicate to the user. I find myself returning to it often, and the principles shown can be used in information and Web design as well. Very well laid out, and easy for busy developers to digest, it still manages to get across what classic mistakes we keep on making, while getting across the things you should be thinking about while you're designing an interface. Excellent.
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