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Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become
Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become
by Peter Morville
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important and inspiring, 29 Mar. 2008
I guess you could say this is a meme map of Morville's observations, research and his ability to see into the future of the trends of Internet based technologies.

Its an interesting, and enlightening, discussion about what we as humans want and need from technology. It seems the text is intended to propagate more discussions and in turn discoveries around the subject of findability and technology. The book certainly makes you think about where we are heading as a society, but also the importance of the products we use and how they become integral to our lives.

Being able to orientate ourselves is a natural human instinct. In the 21st century, findability is a concept that we must ensure is present in the products that are developed.

Its an inspirational read for many reasons, never trying to present answers, but certainly showing the questions that we need to answer if we are to harness the information monster we have created.

You should expect to read something that will present concepts and not case studies or solutions to problems. This book is about the bigger picture and the troubles of information management we face as a society.

Verdict: A philosophical study of where we are, and where we are going that proves Morville is at the forefront of thought leadership when it comes to Information Architecture.

Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience
Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience
by James Kalbach
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic for the user experience library, 27 Mar. 2008
James Kalbach succeeds in bringing together the fundamental components that determine great, and not-so-great, user interfaces. The UI itself must always be respected and the author illustrates exactly why in the journey the book takes us on.

What the book does is show how this can be achieved, from the past, notably from the present and into the future. The illustrations are in colour (critically important for any design book) and give clarity to the text's important insights.

In his book, Kalbach manages to frame the complex design practice of building websites by analysing the building blocks of the process. He covers usability, research, information architecture and interaction design (amongst others) all with well researched quotes from the who's who of the UX world. For any student who wants to become a part of this industry this book is invaluable.

For those who have been involved in the industry for years its a valuable reference book for meetings where you are challenged by the ignorant yet persuasive. It is always great to have a book that has been so well-researched that it becomes undeniably powerful in its authority. Evidence based design is irrefutable and arguing against it only proves the frailties of the objector's opinion. Just to have the references cited here is enough for your armoury when dealing with that difficult question or situation.

Something that must be said is the accessibility of this book's reading style. There are many complex concepts that are written here, and many contributors from specialists in different fields, but the message conveyed is always easily understood. By having so many individuals participating you feel that the author has collaborated with some brilliant minds and in doing so has produced a brilliant book with great clarity - and that's so important here.

Each chapter closes with questions that make you think and exercises that will challenge and push you. It is a fun and interesting way to reassert the summary that Kalbach makes in each chapter. It is not a coding book, but then it shouldn't be. The technology is not the focus here, the user is and that is what is key to the book.

It may not set you alight if you are looking for inspiration, but I feel that is not the purpose of this book. If anything, it is a carefully considered manual of the processes and applications of specialisms that need to be involved in building successful websites. Some have argued there isn't enough personality from the author in the book. However, one assumes this is a conscious decision as it would only detract from the importance and objectivity of the statements made.

To undermine the importance of navigation is like undermining the importance of findability, and the point of the Internet itself. Information discovery is made possible through navigable elements, this discovery is aided if they are intuitively designed and feel right to the user. In the age of Agile, it is more important than ever that we as a group of professionals do not lose sight of where we have come from as we propel ourselves beyond the Web 2.0 world.

Verdict: Its a classic and truly indispensable in the user experience library. Well researched, well executed and as comprehensive as you can imagine. A holistic view on the art and science of web design.

Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions (The Jossey-Bass Higher Education series)
Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions (The Jossey-Bass Higher Education series)
by Donald A. Schon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.39

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What makes a good designer?, 28 Aug. 2007
The writings of Schon are a valuable and powerful set of observations that in their clarity of style and importance of message have changed the way modern schools educate their students.

Furthermore, it gives a tangible theory for improvement in design practice. Tacit and explicit knowledge, `world-making' and the definition of professional artistry are all idioms that we are aware of but do not have a label for in a design practitioner's context.

Schon defines what methods a professional must take to reach a level where skill becomes a habit and artistry results. Although the explicit detail is not elaborated on, in what happens in the reflective process, we do see how `artistry' comes about.

It must be said that reflection-on-action allows reflection-in-action to take place by the sedimentary, accumulated knowledge that comes through experience over time. This allows reflection-in-action by recalling and reformulating a problem, with a view on known past consequences. Experience leads to real intuition in the working environment.

This is the only flaw in an otherwise valuable work, its importance to a designer can not be underestimated.

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