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Handheld Usability (Electrical & Electronics Engr) Paperback – 8 Jul 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (8 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470844469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470844465
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 2.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,635,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Back Cover

Handheld devices cannot be designed simply as copies of their desktop counterparts; they have smaller displays, trickier input mechanisms, less memory, reduced storage capacity, and less powerful operating systems. Understanding the specific challenges of technology on the move is the first step towards designing great products for handheld devices. Handheld Usability is a practical, hands–on guide to designing interfaces for handheld, electronic computing and communication devices, including e–mail pagers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and mobile telephone handsets. This book will give you the skills you need to: ∗ Understand the types of handheld devices and their differences ∗ Design user interfaces for handheld devices ∗ Design user interfaces for the wireless Web (WAP) ∗ Prototype user interfaces for handheld devices ⋅ ∗ Conduct usability tests on prototypes and live, handheld product applications Don′t reinvent the wheel! The lack of standardization in interface design doesn′t mean that you have to start from scratch every time. This ′plain English′ guide will help you to plan your own usability tests as part of the design and development process, and let you learn from insights on design gained from real life experience. With so many handheld devices to choose from, usability can be a very powerful distinguishing factor. Well designed products mean happy users, and satisfied customers become loyal customers. With the help of Handheld Usability you can give the customer what they want, and get it right first time.

About the Author

SCOTT WEISS, Principal of Usable Products Company, is an Information Architect. Scott′s design work can be seen on more than 90% of computer desktops worldwide, including elements of both Macintosh and Windows 95. He chairs the New York City chapter of ACM′s SIG CHI, the Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction. He also chairs the New York New Media Association′s Design Special Interest Group, and has taught for the Digital Design MFA program at Parsons′ New School. Usable Products Company (www.usableproducts.com) is an ease of use agency that conducts usability studies and designs information architecture for desktop and handheld web sites, software, and hardware products.

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This book is about designing applications for handled electronic devices, specifically mobile telephone handsets, pagers and personal digital assistants (PDAs). Read the first page
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 14 Oct 2003
Format: Paperback
Zipf’s law states that common words are very common, and that uncommon words are combinations of uncommon words. For example if you start typing the letters ‘th’ then you are probably trying to write the word ‘the’ rather than ‘theologian’. Applying this simple insight to mobile phones gave us predictive text entry, where a small dictionary allows the phone to guess the word that the user is most likely trying to enter. For example if you press the keys ‘82’ while entering a text message on a modern phone, the phone will predict ‘the’ as your word. This invention allows QWERTY-snobs like me to approach the speeds of Finnish teenagers in tapping text messages on a mobile phone.
Such innovation is just amusingly clever on a PC, but on the small screens of handheld devices, it is essential. A good user interface converts a small device from a limiting gadget to a useful tool. European consumers’ ‘wapathetic’ response to WAP-enable phones was due to over hyping by the telecommunications industry, but also poor usability of the devices.
So a textbook on the topic is certainly appropriate.
Handheld usability defines handheld devices as highly portable machines that can operate with no cables and can be operated within one’s hand. In addition, they must either allow the addition of applications or support internet connectivity. So the book’s focus includes handheld computers (such as Palm-powered machines and Pocket PCs) and mobile phones (with WAP, i-mode or email connectivity) but excludes devices such as music players.
Naturally the discussion includes details of devices that are obsolete. Such is usually the case with any discussion of the details in information technology.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Oct 2002
Format: Paperback
This book offers a clear and well structured methodology for designing user-centred handheld products.
The book starts with initial 'grounding' for readers - covering issues including the challenges of designing for handheld products compared to desktop products.
The sections about Information Architecture, Prototyping and Usability Testing offer excellent insights and practical methods. These sections will teach 'new-comers' to the field all they need to know - and will provide new perspectives and ideas for current practitioners of handheld usability.
Information Architecture, Prototyping and Usability Testing are the fundamental tools in creating products that are usable - and this book covers them in-depth and with a practical style.
This is the only book currently to offer a comprehensive approach to designing handheld usability and is a must for all those involved with handheld design.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
You'll find better elsewhere, and nowhere. 4 Mar 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am an experienced interface designer who has never designed for a handheld. So, when I faced a new project that would be deployed on a handheld, I looked here to further my education. This is the only book I could find that is specific to handhelds.
When I was considering this book I read seven glowing reviews, and one total pan. The pan got it right. This book may be more useful for someone who knows very little about interaction design, usability testing, prototyping, and all that, and who isn't interested in gaining more than a superficial understanding of these topics. (If you are new to usability design, you'll find a much better place to start with Mayhew's "The Usability Engineering Lifecycle: A Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design.") If, however, you are a usability professional looking for insight on how you need to think differently now that your screen is the size of a Post-it note, wait for the next book to be written. I could have written this book, and the sum of my handheld experience is that I own a Palm and a cell phone.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
very disappointing 26 Sep 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I originally reviewed this book in Sept, 2002. Though the book had been available for a while, my review was the first. I'm revisiting my review in order to mention that within a week after I posted it, seven or eight glowing reviews suddenly appeared, as if in response to my pan. Still, I stand by my original:
There are few books available on the subject of designing usable products for handheld devices -- a fast-growing discipline -- so I was eager for the publication of this book. Via his web site and his other organizing activities, the author has done a lot to foster a growing community of handheld device UX specialists, but his book was a big disappointment.
I hardly know where to begin.
The book is poorly organized and would be greatly improved by the addition of sidebars, pullquotes and other methods of coding and grouping information. A more comprehensive index would help too. As it is, it's difficult to scan and nearly useless as a reference.
In many ways, the book is both too general and too specific. Less than seven pages are devoted to "Designing for WAP for Mobile Phones," which is not enough space to cover the topic at even the highest level, yet those seven pages are full of strangely specific guidelines that fail to consider the real world range of WAP applications and contexts. For example, his list of "important principles" includes the remarkably specific recommendation to "use 'Main' instead of 'Home'. 'Home' is ambiguous - is it the carrier's portal, or your application's start page?" The implicit point he's making is certainly a good one (i.e. be careful about how you link to the various things that can be interpreted as 'Home'), but he doesn't seem to understand how to write at this more useful level of abstraction. As a result, many of his recommendations as they're written do not apply in the real world.
The few nuggets of useful information in the book are often incongruously buried -- in the middle of paragraphs, in the middle of chapters discussing other things entirely. He drops these useful tidbits here and there and spends no time supporting them with evidence, research or even an explanation of his own rationale. In an early chapter (called "Handheld Devices"), he includes just a single short paragraph(!) under the heading, "Design for Small Screens". In this paragraph, he makes a few recommendations (e.g. "never use blank lines" and "use dashes... to create separations in content"). These are useful, but they belong in a different chapter, and they should be supported.
The meat of the book is the author's discussion of what have essentially become the tenets of the UX/IA/ID field: usability testing, prototyping, the iterative design process, etc. But these discussions consist mainly of repetitions of the obvious, amounting to a thin survey of what you will find in the standard texts of the broader field (by Neilsen, Norman, Raskin, Tufte, Wurman, etc.).
The book does contain some moderately useful bits about wireless technologies and devices in general, but not enough to justify the price tag.
The upshot of all this is, 'Handheld Usability' does not provide a broad enough overview of the discipline for the curious or those just getting started, and it doesn't go deep enough to help mobile UX professionals like me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Still a valuable reference 29 Aug 2010
By D. W. Francis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a Product Designer with 30 years experience designing consumer electronics. This book is an excellent reference guide to what issues and concerns should be investigated and addressed in developing handheld products. The only minor complaint I have is that owing to its 2002 publication date, some of the devices used as examples are so outdated that many readers have probably had no hands-on interaction with them. However the principles and methods discussed are still very relevant and useful.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Average Person 2 Oct 2002
By ken saull - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I thought that this book was user friendly, easy to read and wriiten for all users including the layman. The layout is pleasant and the graphics have "eye appeal".
We need additonal publications to ease our way into the PDA world.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Essential 14 Oct 2003
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Zipf's law states that common words are very common, and that uncommon words are combinations of uncommon words. For example if you start typing the letters `th' then you are probably trying to write the word `the' rather than `theologian'. Applying this simple insight to mobile phones gave us predictive text entry, where a small dictionary allows the phone to guess the word that the user is most likely trying to enter. For example if you press the keys `82' while entering a text message on a modern phone, the phone will predict `the' as your word. This invention allows QWERTY-snobs like me to approach the speeds of Finnish teenagers in tapping text messages on a mobile phone.
Such innovation is just amusingly clever on a PC, but on the small screens of handheld devices, it is essential. A good user interface converts a small device from a limiting gadget to a useful tool. European consumers' `wapathetic' response to WAP-enable phones was due to over hyping by the telecommunications industry, but also poor usability of the devices.
So a textbook on the topic is certainly appropriate.
Handheld usability defines handheld devices as highly portable machines that can operate with no cables and can be operated within one's hand. In addition, they must either allow the addition of applications or support internet connectivity. So the book's focus includes handheld computers (such as Palm-powered machines and Pocket PCs) and mobile phones (with WAP, i-mode or email connectivity) but excludes devices such as music players.
Naturally the discussion includes details of devices that are obsolete. Such is usually the case with any discussion of the details in information technology. But the principles are timeless and the practices will remain practical.
Perhaps the most useful chapter is the one on prototyping. Weiss' advice is that this should be done with a pen and several pieces of paper. For example the designer would draw the first screen on the paper. The user would then say what he or she expects to see on interacting with each element of the "screen". During this feedback, the designer would draw the next screen, and again ask the user what he or she expects. This technique is of course cheap but I was surprised by its effectiveness. No doubt Weiss' clients also found it useful.
If your team is designing applications for handheld devices, consider hiring Weiss. If you cannot afford that, buy his book. You cannot afford not to.
Review appeared in British Medical Informatics Today, Issue 41
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