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Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions Paperback – 29 Jan 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (29 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596516258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596516253
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.8 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Bill Scott is director of UI Engineering at Netflix in Los Gatos, CA, where he plies his interface engineering and design skills. Scott is the former Yahoo! Ajax evangelist and pattern curator for the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library.

He has a long and glamorous history in the IT world, due mostly to his unique understanding of both the technical and creative aspects of designing usable products. His ramblings and musings can be found at

Theresa Neil is a user experience consultant in Austin, Texas, where she designs rich applications for start-ups and Fortune500 companies.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nelson Mendes on 25 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
I've ordered this book just after attending a O'Reilly webinar with Mr. Bill Scott. Although the webinar was flawed with technical problems, the content was strong and very appealing. Bill Scott knows what he talks and writes about. He's the director of the UI Engineering department, with over 25 years of work under his belt.

The book is really straight to the point and concise. It exposes you to the techniques (patterns) used in today's websites for enhancing User Experience.

You have plenty of full color pictures to illustrate each technique (in my edition some of the pictures were not well printed, but they all are available in a Flickr account).

You'll have access a series of patterns used in web interfaces and it will explain the advantages and pitfall of each one. You'll will also have access to common "anti-patterns" and quickly understand why those are bad ideas.

The book only covers the XHTML/Javascript/CSS side of web interfaces (but never getting technical about these subjects), but the majority can be directly translated to Flash/Flex applications for example.

There's also a companion website where you can expand the subjects covered in the book and get in touch with the author).

I highly recommend this book to anyone serious about User Interface Design and Usability in both websites and/or web apps.

PS: Don't expect any Javascript code examples or something, the book stays away from the tools you can use for achieving the listed techniques. But if you are familiar with Javascript libraries like jQuery you'll quickly translate those techniques into real examples.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By pauland on 23 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Designing web interfaces is a book that consists of separate chapters that describes a broad UI principle and breaks it down into separate topics/patterns.

The great thing about this book is it explains the principle and applicability, shows the correct use and potential misuse of each UI pattern.

The book is succinct and straight to the point. It doesn't just describe a pattern it shows them in use and also in misuse and we get to see where patterns could have been used to great effect (but often weren't).

Packed with illustrations and screengrabs, the text is descriptive and the illustrations push the point home.

The book is as good at putting it's subject across as the patterns and principles that it describes.

A superb book that will be very well thumbed and benefit end users of my software greatly. This book cannot be recommended highly enough.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr Simple on 12 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is really good. It tells you many things that you never event thought before. great examples too. top stuff.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 29 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Great book for a wide range of users; easy to follow; well-written. 15 Feb. 2009
By T. Denyer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are brand spanking new to web design, and have never coded a single site, you may want to hold off on this book for a minute. I'm not saying it is not for beginners, because it is. Those new to HTML and CSS may want to get the hang of that before jumping into incorporating Ajax and JavaScript along with advanced CSS techniques.

Who is it for? I would recommend this book for art directors, project managers, web designers (all levels), interactive designers, DVD menu designers (though not directly related, you can still take away some important aspects or "patterns"), and especially those that design online training modules (we all know how dull they can be.) Like the DVD menu designers I mentioned above, I think Flash designers can benefit greatly, as well. Though the book is not directly geared toward Flash design, the patterns and "anti-patterns" talked about can easily be used when designing for a Flash experience.

The layout of the book is broken up into the 6 "principles" described in the product description of this book. The sections "Make It Direct" and "Stay on the Page" are by far the two largest sections, for they are the most important of the 6. "Keep it Lightweight" is the shortest section/principle, but by no means is rushed or glossed over. It poses some great design ideas to keep it intuitive, discoverable and keep you from designing 'mouse traps.'

In order to get the most out of this book, you would have to have designed a web site before reading this book. If you are a project manager or art director in charge of a team designing a web site (but not a web designer yourself), it would benefit you greatly to have a general understanding of web design, HTML, what Ajax is, CSS, cross-browser compatibilities, and Javascript. If you are just managing a team, you do NOT have to know how to code these languages/techniques, but in order to really benefit form this book, it would be better if you generally know what each does.

This book could also help bridge the gap for some managers by equipping them with the correct terminology of web design. Just speaking the language of user interface design can help speed up the time it takes to turn your directions into an interface that works the way you intended.

The book is detailed and to the point of the benefits of discoverability and weighing your options in the case of just how intuitive you need to make the interface. This book does not read like a my-way-or-the-highway kind of book. Scott mentions the potential pitfalls, disadvantages and possible alternate scenarios that depend on your interactive goals as set by the audience visiting your site.

A good number of the examples are from Yahoo! and Netflix sites (because Scott used to work for Yahoo! and now works for Netflix), but I never once felt like it was an advertisement for either one. He manages to spread the love around and uses examples from the Gap, iPhone, blogs, Google, Amazon, and others.

In short, the book is an easy read, something that one could go through in a long weekend. There are screenshots and visual examples on virtually every page, so in no way are we left to imagine the event happening. Multiple screenshots are taken when the event happens over the period of several steps. There is even a couple free companion web sites that will show the screenshots in a larger format than the book would allow. While reading the book, you will undoubtedly have many 'ah ha!' moments, or times when you rush to check your previously-designed web sites to see if you need to make a correction to your interface (admit it, we all do.)

I highly recommend this book for anyone that designs interfaces, even if they are for mp3 players, touch screens for electronics, or those interactive lobby displays. We all need some help in the area of user interface design.

***NOTE: there is NO code in this book. This the theory of designing user interfaces for the web, NOT the code.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Best organization of principles for designing Rich Internet Applications I have read so far 2 Mar. 2009
By Stefan Leuthold - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book absorbed me for the last weekend, and I have to say, it is the best book in the field of HCI I have come across since reading Tidwell's Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design. Of course, I like everything that happens to quote Cooper's About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design and Raskin's The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems (ACM Press) - but this one gave me lots of new, practical ideas for the web, and a consistent terminology I can use to think and talk about Rich Internet Applications.

Nicely organized and layouted, well-written, and, in my opinion, thought-through easy-to-grasp structure. I was studying many patterns in the Yahoo! pattern library online and I am glad that Bill Scott finally published a book with the same clarity and logic that I came to like online.

Will become a standard in the company I work for and I am sure our clients will already start to "fear" discussions around the six principles when arguing with our consultants for what should be done and how :-)

Great book.
60 of 75 people found the following review helpful
An Embarrassment of Riches 10 July 2009
By David Pepper - Published on
Format: Paperback
Scott is a/the genius behind Netflix and Yahoo!'s interfaces, so I got this book to figure out how to make my web interface programming work more professional.

However, much of what I've read here goes against the spirit of the design I was taught to do in grad school. For example, Netflix/Yahoo! make complex designs that are highly functional for expert users, and at-least reasonably usable for intermediate users. These designs feature transitions which use fades, transparent controls which only become visible when a user hovers, and dueling interfaces which allow power-users to move at a different speed than weaker users, etc.

By comparison, my grad program emphasizes designing for readability, learnability and with a singular notion of organizational principles structuring content in such a way that it is accessible to humans, search engines, and user agents (speech synthesis for visually impaired users). In Designing Web Interfaces, this perspective is consistently swept aside in the quest to build "rich interactions" at the expense of these peripheral users.

The result for me of this encounter with "Designing Web Interfaces" has been a renewed appreciation of how hard it is to make interface design choices. So often design is a question of framing, which establishes who the audience is, what the goals are, and what standards to use for a product.

I think at best, this book offers insight into future trends of professional design -- what Scott calls "rich interactions". However, I have a feeling that I'll always be more on the novice/disabled/user-agent user's side, leaning towards standard-based and user-centered designs, no matter what these captains of industry are cooking up.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Bit of a disappointment 29 Dec. 2012
By Open Source Advocate - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this hoping to collect a few new tips and tools for making cleaner interfaces. Generally I have a lot of respect for O'reilly books but this one let me down. It seems more to be a collection of desktop user interfaces from the late 90s and screenshots of old versions of very popular websites such as Amazon. If you've never done any web design then this will at least introduce you to the common terms for different interface pieces but has no implementation details and can't be referred to as "current" in any sense of the word.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Outdated but still useful 14 Nov. 2011
By Luca Candela - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is very well crafted and compiles a very solid body of knowledge that too many UI designers simply ignore. The problem is that this book is simply outdated, as many new interface paradigms are not covered, and some of the old material feels a bit simplistic now that the body of knowledge available to UI designers has grown. If money is no issue, you should still own a copy of this book for reference, but do so with the knowledge that an update is sorely needed and that you will be partially disappointed by it.
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