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Microinteractions: Full Color Edition: Designing with Details [Paperback]

Dan Saffer
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

4 Nov 2013 1491945923 978-1491945926 1

It’s the little things that turn a good digital product into a great one. With this full color practical book, you’ll learn how to design effective microinteractions: the small details that exist inside and around features. How can users change a setting? How do they turn on mute, or know they have a new email message?

Through vivid, real-world examples from today’s devices and applications, author Dan Saffer walks you through a microinteraction’s essential parts, then shows you how to use them in a mobile app, a web widget, and an appliance. You’ll quickly discover how microinteractions can change a product from one that’s tolerated into one that’s treasured.

  • Explore a microinteraction’s structure: triggers, rules, feedback, modes, and loops
  • Learn the types of triggers that initiate a microinteraction
  • Create simple rules that define how your microinteraction can be used
  • Help users understand the rules with feedback, using graphics, sounds, and vibrations
  • Use modes to let users set preferences or modify a microinteraction
  • Extend a microinteraction’s life with loops, such as “Get data every 30 seconds”

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Microinteractions: Full Color Edition: Designing with Details + Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
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Product details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (4 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1491945923
  • ISBN-13: 978-1491945926
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 17.9 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Book Description

Principles and Patterns or Delivering Delightful User Experiences --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Dan Saffer is a Director of Interaction Design at Smart Design. He is the author of Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices (New Riders), Designing Gestural Interfaces (O'Reilly), and Designing Devices. Since 1995, he has designed appliances, devices, software, websites, and services that are used by millions of people every day.



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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quality content but get the color version 19 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback
Don't buy this edition, buy the one with colors: 1491945923

The content deserves more stars but print is black & white and quality of images is plain horrible. Doesn't really do justice to a book about how details matter.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The devil is in the details, but the angels are too. 4 Jun 2013
By Scott Berkun - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
They say the devil is in the details, but the angels are in there too. That is, if you have a clue about what you're doing. People who want to design things have large egos and presume that they're skilled enough to work on large, grand ideas. But so rarely do designs in this world get the small things right, and if the small things, the little pieces that get used the most, are broken, what is the point of being large?

Dan Saffer's book Microinteractions is the best book I've read about design in ages. I've been working in design for 20 years and often have younger designers ask me for advice, or how to achieve their grand design dreams. Most books about design are similarly grand and presume that everyone knows the basics well enough to do the little things well. The world proves this not to be true. Spend an afternoon strolling around town with a gaggle of caffeinated interaction designers and you'll hear an endless commentary on the details the designers of the world have gotten wrong.

The book itself is a wonderfully self-consistent: it's short, concise, well designed and brilliant. The fun and salient examples nail Saffer's points, and his writing is sharp, incisive and with just enough comedic curmudgeonry to keep you smiling most of the way through. The book's ambitions, like any good design project, are clear. Shaffer's focus is on the small sequences of interactions he calls, surprise, microinteractions. Ever been frustrated by entering your password? Leaving a comment on a blog? You've been let down by a microinteraction design. Perhaps the majority of design frustrations in the technological world are micro, not macro.

This is the book many designers will begrudgingly pick up, thinking it's beneath them, but by the time they get to page 25 they'll be thinking "oh, this is fun" and then by page 50 they'll realize "oh dear, I make that mistake, or have peers that do" and when they're finished they'll know "I now have a language to describe these important problems that have bothered people for ages but were hard to describe, and I have the knowledge now to fix them properly". What more can you ask for from a book about designing things?

We live in a world where the clueless have disturbing amounts of influence. There are no licenses required to use words like design, simplicity and quality, and it should be no surprise we're often victimized by the engineered junk companies pass off as products. If we want that to change we have to start in the small. Until a designer, or an organization, can consistently get the details right, what hope is there to get the grand things right either?

Please buy this book. I say that selfishly as I want better design in the world. But I also say it generously: so many design books are fluffy affairs, lost in abstraction and ego. Saffer has hit the bullseye of problems the design world desperately needs to solve, and written a book every designer needs to read.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of essential details of interaction design 12 May 2013
By Uday N. Gajendar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dan Saffer has written perhaps his best book to date, on a topic that is increasingly deserving of attention: the details of interaction design, or "microinteractions". While as designers of digital products & services we often get caught up in debates around "design thinking" or "skeuomorphism", Dan has astutely pointed our profession's compass to what matters most--how to make those daily interactions, truly the details, across devices and interfaces satisfying and delightful. He provides a nicely memorable, systematic way of decomposing the core elements of a tightly scoped interaction for mundane events such as logging in, syncing data, attaching a file, etc. -- what I always vaguely called "the nuts and bolts" of interaction design--into a specific sensible framework [trigger > rules > feedback > loops/modes] that a designer can carry with them into any design session or heuristic evaluation. Filled with great examples, including full color images of actual interfaces, and amplified with Dan's easy writing style that makes his anecdotes come alive, this book deserves a high priority spot on every interaction designer's library. I also want to applaud the historical references that Dan includes on fundamental interactions like copy/paste and the file save model, that I'm sure many young digital designers today may not know about. I'll certainly be referring back to "Microinteractions" often for my complex design projects!
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Imperfect 12 Jun 2013
By Eric Lawrence - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When you're writing a book about how important it is that designers get the small details right, it's important to get the small details right.

Unfortunately, this book all too often gets those details wrong. The photos and screenshots, most of which were pulled from a website called "Little Big Details", are the most common source of problems. The mistakes here run the gamut-- pictures that are:

- too dark (e.g. black text on a near-black background)
- too light (insufficient contrast),
- too small (cannot see details)
- too large (irrelevant content)
- low resolution (print is 300+ DPI but most screenshots are 96dpi)

The book was printed in black and white, but includes images which depend on the reader's ability to see color. A few even purport to demonstrate animations, an impossibility in print. A handful of the images are like those puzzle games your grandparents play in the Sunday paper ("Which tiny details are different between these two pictures?"). In addition to the technical problems with the photos themselves, the text all too often refers to figures inappropriately (e.g. the picture doesn't demonstrate the point made in the text).

In addition to a handful of typos (some amusing "Hammers, like most tools, are very good for a few discreet [sic] activities"), the book suffers from clarity problems in some parts. These include such gems as "The invisible trigger should be nearly universally available, or alternatively, available under particular conditions". One sentence included no fewer than 4 parentheticals.

Generally, the publisher/editor should help flag problems such as these, but if anything, they made it worse. For instance, the book opens with a long paragraph about the reader's right to reuse the book's code samples (the book doesn't contain any).

Despite all of these criticisms, the book's content is pretty good-- it's a quick, easy, and thought-provoking read. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the book is mentioned in the preface: now that "microinteractions" have a name, designers and developers can better argue for making investments in their implementation.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Might Be Good, But Not For Me 11 July 2013
By Steven H. Clason - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After defining the topic as "single use-case features [of a user interface] that do one thing only" with a light switch as the iconic example, arguing for the importance of getting the features of user experience right, setting the goal of "dissect[ing] microinteractions in order to help readers design their own", and a mostly-irrelevant but well-told introductory story about a cell-phone ring-tone destroying a musical performance, the author quickly establishes an analysis framework, dividing interactions into Triggers, Rules, and Feedback, and devotes early chapters to explaining each of the components.

The book, unfortunately, doesn't fulfill this promising (minus that story) start.

Rather than an intensive and systematic dissection of single-use-case interactions, we're given example after example (after example) of Triggers, then of Rules, then of Feedback, almost all drawn from postings to a single Website ("Little Big Details"),accompanied by a narrative which, by rapidly changing point of view and underlying metaphor, makes the analytical context confusing and causes all of these examples (and there are a LOT of examples) to just pile together, conceptually.

There are good ideas -- use smart defaults, don't start from zero, recognize "signature moments" -- but they are presented in mind-numbing breadth rather than depth, with many, many examples but little analysis of why these rules might apply exactly this way in this particular context. The barrage of examples, to me, grew tiresome. You might have figured that out already.

Mr. Saffer tells us how to judge a successful feature -- "what you're striving for is a feeling of naturalness, an inevitability, a flow..." -- and it's a shame he didn't apply that simple measure to his book.

I appreciate and generally trust the "Who Should Read This Book?" feature in O'Reilly books, but in this case it failed me -- rather than the "anyone who cares about making better products" of the Preface, the right audience is professional, full-time user experience designers wanting to, and able to, hone their skills through exposure to examples. If that sort of person could have a much higher opinion of the book, and I wouldn't argue a bit.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Designing A Single Choice or Action Correctly 29 May 2013
By Ira Laefsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dan Saffer, a master of Human Computer Interaction and "Iteraction Design", not only of on-screen user interfaces but interactive electronic devices has presented an excellent study of the small details of interaction design that must be "gotten right" to create a product that gives pleasure rather than pain. In thinking about "Microinteractions" the small but vital details that involve making a single choice or taking a single action with a product or user interface, I think of the state and mode errors I make with my TV/DVR/DVD remote control to switch between broadcast content and Netflix. I want to smoothly transition between my choices of broadcast or downloaded content, but I often make a mode error that lands me in a "hung state". Dan breaks down interactions similar to this into: 1. Triggers, the moment that a microinteraction begins, 2. Rules, "the hidden parameters and characteristics that define an interaction", 3. Feedback, "how the rules are understood by the user" or visible (or auditory) events that inform a user of the "state" of an interaction, 4.Loops and Modes, "the Meta part of an interaction". He gives many examples of the successful and unsuccessful design of microinteractions and documents the correct detailed design of these details for a Mobile App, an online Playlist, and a Dishwasher Control Panel in Chapter 6. Finally in the Appendix he describes a methodology for testing microinteractions.

I highly recommend this excellent book on getting the details right for Interaction Design for user interfaces, Internet-based actions, and real-world devices.

I have a few specific questions for the author on this highly recommended study:

1. What is atomic or indivisible in constituting a "Microinteraction"? Is it the action taken, the goal of the action or the physical choice made by the user?

2. Dan described an excellent heuristic approach to "Microinteraction Design", another human factors expert Asaf Degani described a "state-transition" based approach to similar problems in his excellent 2003 book "Taming HAL: Designing Interfaces beyond 2001". What are the tradeoffs of each approach, and could Dan's "Microinteractions" have benefitted from state transition or UML Sequence Diagrams in describing these details?

3. Is a prescriptive approach possible to the design of "Microinteractions"?

In any case Dan Saffer's book is a must have for any designer of human interfaces or interactive products, and a valuable guide to those of us who have been frustrated by buggy interactions.

--Ira Laefsky MS Engineering (Computer Science)/MBA Information Technology and Human Computer Interaction Researcher
formerly on the Senior Consulting Staff of Arthur D. Little, Inc. and Digital Equipment Corporation
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