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User Interface Design for Programmers

User Interface Design for Programmers [Kindle Edition]

Joel Spolsky
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Description


From the reviews:

"He picks apart commercial products from big companies, showing their UI mistakes. I love that."
Dr. Dobb's Journal

"The author of a popular independent website gives you a book about what programmers need to know about user interface design. Spolsky concentrates especially on the common mistakes that too many programs exhibit. Most programmers dislike user interface programming, but this book makes it easy, straightforward, and fun. It is written with an audience of programmers in mind, but does not assume any prior programming knowledge nor any specific programming language." (, April, 2001)

"This book offers many useful pointers on designing user interfaces which even experienced programmers should need. The 18 chapters cover topics ranging from effective use of colour to metaphors and usability testing. Underlined throughout is the most fundamental principle that ‘a user interface is well designed when the program behaves how the user thought it would’. The style is informal, humorous and anecdotal. There are numerous examples of design at its worst, each with an explanation of why the design is poor." (Richard Avery, The Computer Bulletin, March, 2002)

Product Description

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2149 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1893115941
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (26 Jun 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001O9LB86
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #580,403 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not a 'must have' 29 Aug 2001
By A Customer
An enlightening book, much in the same vein as "Don't make me think". It even has the token chapter on designing for the web! (where users are even less likely to be computer literate)
Although the title refers to being specifically for 'programmers' it's not focused at programmers per se, more at applications developed by programmers, and then used by everyone.
Well written and often well argued, although occasionally contadictory. The examples used in the book, although timely, tend to feature and focus on bad design rather than pointing to a good design and saying why. I suppose this helps you to avoid the same mistakes, but you might just as easily make different ones!
I wouldn't take the content as gospel, but it did create a few interesting discussion points between developers at work.
If you've not read a book on Usability/UI for a while then you could do worse than this - especially for the way it points out some of microsofts stupidest mistakes. (moving the start button in and up 2px!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Style - very accessible 12 April 2006
This book is written in such a way that it is almost as if you are having a conversation with Joel about UI design. It presents all the major concepts about UI design without assuming you are a UI guru but also without treating you as a simpleton that need to have everything explained to you. Joel has an entertaining and engaging style.

You will find your self wanting to continue reading, and learning. You will find yourself thinking - "aha that is why it's that way" or "no wonder the customer alway complains about that bit" or maybe just "that is what I was doing then" when you finally know what the name is for the concept you applied without knowing.

All in all I would HIGHLY recommend this for new and experienced UI designer alike as a must have - maybe not sat on the bookshelf as a constant reference but they should all have read a copy at somepoint!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable read 17 April 2002
By A Customer
I'll start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it's been a long time since I read something that I actually wanted to take home with me.
That said, it's a very short book and doesn't have a lot to say. Unlike every other UI book ever written there are no rules, no guidelines, not even much in the way of suggestions. It doesn't tell you what to do or not do and it doesn't tell you when or even why!
So why the five-star rating? Because the one underlying message that's hammered (entertainingly) home over 135 pages is so incredibly vital and I can't think of anywhere else I've ever seen it actually written down. The message is very simple - think about what you're doing. Think about the interface you're designing, what it's going to be used for and who by. This is the first book I've ever read where the author actually seems to understand that no set of rules can possibly cover all the bases and therefore it is equally applicable whether you're designing a complex Windows application or a single-screen web page.
I'd imagine there are some pixel-perfect uniformity junkies out there who might hate this book, but to everyone else - read and enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cover to cover read 24 Jun 2005
I've just spent a very enjoyable afternoon reading this book. Joel has a very engaging writing style and avoids being preachy or overly flippant.
To some extent I suspect that Joel's audience are already converted given that they are reading the book at all - but I'll admit to committing a few of the sins he describes so entertainingly, and I'll avoid them in future.
I recommend it as a good read almost as much as for its technical content - buy it at once.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and helpful book 21 Nov 2003
This book reminds me of an entertaining evening lecture, rather than a dull college one. It is humourous and light, I read it in an evening. Along the way I found myself agreeing with many of the points made, being challenged by others, but never failing to finish each chapter without having learned something useful.
I'm sure I'll be dipping into time and again to make sure the my user-interfaces of my own applications match up.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experienced, Perceptive, and Easy to Read 26 Sep 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book. It is written for those programmers that know they don't know much about user interfaces, but also know they'll have to make the decisions because their employer doesn't have anyone else. From a mainly Windows point of view, it goes through common features in dialogue boxes, menus, task structure, and so on, discussing the common principles and things that are easy to fix.
It points out that users can't remember and can't use the mouse. Convention-following design is often better simply because it doesn't surprise users. Things that take you weeks to code may be experienced by the user in seconds, so they had better be clear.
The book is very easy to read, in plain English with plenty of screen shots. It says things that all application programmers should know. I think of it as being the desktop-application equivalent to "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug, which is about web usability.
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