Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-computer Interaction Paperback – 1 May 2003
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From the Back Cover
In 1996, recognizing this book, ACM's Special Interest Group on Documentation (SIGDOC) presented Ben Shneiderman with the Joseph Rigo Award. SIGDOC praised the book as one "that took the jargon and mystery out of the field of human-computer interaction" and attributed the book's success to "its readability and emphasis on practice as well as research."
In revising this best-seller, Ben Shneiderman again provides a complete, current, and authoritative introduction to user-interface design. The user interface is the part of every computer system that determines how people control and operate that system. When the interface is well designed, it is comprehensible, predictable, and controllable; users feel competent, satisfied, and responsible for their actions. In this book, the author discusses the principles and practices needed to design such effective interaction.
Based on 20 years experience, Shneiderman offers readers practical techniques and guidelines for interface design. As a scientist, he also takes great care to discuss underlying issues and to support conclusions with empirical results. Interface designers, software engineers, and product managers will all find here an invaluable resource for creating systems that facilitate rapid learning and performance, yield low error rates, and generate high user satisfaction.
Coverage includes the human factors of interactive software (with added discussion of diverse user communities), tested methods to develop and assess interfaces, interaction styles (like direct manipulation for graphical user interfaces), and design considerations (effective messages, consistent screen design, appropriate color).Highlights of the Third Edition:
- New chapters on the World Wide Web, Information Visualization, and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work
- Expanded and earlier coverage of Development Methodologies, Evaluation Techniques, and User-Interface-Building Tools
- Thought-provoking discussion of Speech Input/Output, Natural-Language Interaction, Anthropomorphic Design, Virtual Environments, and Agents
A booksite that accompanies the book with additional information and instructional suport is now available.
About the Author
About Ben Shneiderman
Ben Shneiderman is one of the world's leading authorities on User Interface Design. He is a professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, where he heads the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University's Center for Automation Research. He received his doctorate in computer science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Shneiderman's other works include Hypertext Hands-On!, coauthored with Greg Kearsley, an innovative book-software package that introduces readers to hypertext by having them use it, and Software Psychology, a book that helped lay the foundation for work on human factors in computing. He has also published numerous articles on human-computer interaction and is on the editorial board of six scientific journals. Dr. Shneiderman regularly organizes and presents live satellite TV broadcasts on User Interface Strategies.
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Top Customer Reviews
Instead of being a book about MFC, or a book about programming a specific platform, this book concentrates on the important philosophies and principals behind programming an efficient and well formed user interface.
A book about programming MFC, X-windows is like a book about chess pieces legal moves. This book is just like a book of how to play chess, not the chess tools themselves.
Can be used in many fields of study.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The only major problem with it is that it is a textbook, written to fit into a given number of pages. This means, alas, that a lot of good stuff from the second edition had to be taken out to fit in new stuff. So, one solution is to buy both the third and the second editions, and while you are at it get your hands on his "Sparks of innovation" which is most interesting despite its old age. The sections on touchscreens are incomparable, to give but one example. Another solution is to get Shneiderman to write a real big fat book on HCI!
There are enough textbooks or collected readings available for all the courses. There are also so many web design books around that sometimes I want to scream ENOUGH! What is missing is a recent reference book and an introductory text. I wish Shneiderman would delay the fourth edition for a few more years and get a _real_ HCI introduction and reference out.
In the meantime, this third edition is the next best thing, but it has to be coupled with "Sparks of innovation", Don Norman's books, Jakob Nielsen's books, and a dash of Tognazzini, Tufte, and Tex Avery.
This book ranks among the worst books I've ever come across for any purpose.
While the book itself is a beautiful production, no doubt the publisher/editor put significant work into preparing the book, the main purpose, transmitting information on designing user interfaces to the reader, falls flat. It gets two stars for the work the publisher put into it.
The author apparently didn't pick up that a book is a user interface too.
Is it a reference book? Well, when I try to use it this way, I must search for up to 15 or twenty minutes, either to find many references to the topic, or in order to realize the topic isn't covered. So I grade it poor for reference. Also, most topics are so scattered, you would have to read the book through several times to gain the information required, but the book is so unreadable, that you'll never get to this point.
Is it a literature review? One could easily confuse the book for this as there are hundreds of references to various papers and publications all through the book. Several chapters are written in such a style that it goes from a paragraph from one paper, into a paragraph from another and so on (check out p. 128 for example, or p. 389, or randomly open to nearly any page). By reading any chapter completely you are left with a melange of disparate and unconnected thoughts about many different aspects of user interfaces, most that have nothing much to do with design or with one another. Here the author must be trying to soothe his own insecurity that he has enough knowledge to write a book about UI. Unfortunately, while I believe the author has ample knowledge, he lacks ability in conveying information to a reader.
Is it a text book? Only if the goal is to steer the reader away with the belief that designing user interfaces is too difficult for anyone except the author, who you should hire for consulting, or for others who have read through hundreds of papers. It's not even good to go to sleep by, because you just get upset reading it due to the poor and illogical layout.
Is it a book to introduce you to design tools? No! There is a chapter titled, "Software Tools" but it tries to cover everything briefly, but ends up covering nothing in enough detail to allow you to make a decision on which tool would fill your needs.
The book just disgusts me. It is hard to read even two or three pages in a row because the author's writing style is so cryptic. Yet in other places it just plain wastes your time, for instance in describing what a menu is for ... from p. 237, "The primary goal for menu, form-fillin, and dialog-box designers is to create sensible, comprehensible, memorable, and convenient organization relevant to the user's tasks." WELL DUH!
That bit of the text is indicative of the whole book, only it's probably a little easier to read than most sentences. Here is another snippet from p. 389, Ch. 11 Presentation Styles: "In a study of 12 telephone operators, Springer (1987) found that supressing the presentation of redundant family names in a directory-assistance listing reduced target-location time by 0.8 seconds."
Hey, I'd like to believe the author isn't stupid, but the whole chapter is filled with jibberish like that, and it doesn't have much to do with presenation style. The whole book is just like that. It's worthless.
I realize every time I pick up this book, I'm about to waste my time, but I hope I haven't wasted your time with this review.
This book is presented as a textbook and some people may have a problem with this approach. The fact is most of the people studying User Interface are PhDs and they need to sell these things to their students so they can continue making their bar tab in the faculty lounge.
`Designing the User Interface' covers as much human-computer interaction as you could hope to fit in a textbook. You may be left wondering why anyone would bother writing a book about the same subject again. It's already covered. Unfortunately, most of the textbook will be too `academic' for our purposes. If you want to know about computer science, psychology, information science, business systems, education technology, communications arts, media studies, technical writing, research agendas, you'll find it. But just flip to the obvious throw-in Chapter 16, titled: hypermedia and the worldwide web on page 551. That's what I did. In fact, the other obvious throw-in titled `Afterward' has some great sections such as `Ten Plagues of the Information Age' and `Between Hope and Fear.' Shneiderman waxes philosophical here on the big picture of human-computer interaction. He covers subjects such as universal access, fear of technology, professional responsibilities, alienation, unemployment and displacement.
My personal viewpoint is that text is much a part of user interface as graphics and navigation. Unclear text makes it just as hard for a user to interpret a site as mauve navigation buttons on a brown background. So why do User Interface experts present sentences such as:
"In the last 40 years, the cathode ray tube (CRT), often called the visual display unit (VDU) or tube (VDT), has emerged as an alternate medium for presenting text, but researchers have only begun the long process of optimization (Cakir et al., 1980; Grandjean and Vigliani, 1982; Heines, 1984; Helander, 1987; Hansen and Haas, 1988; Oborne and Holton, 1988, Creed and Newstead, 1988, Horton, 1990) to meet user needs." (Page 412)?
Yikers! That's hard to read. Where's the usability in that sentence?
Schneiderman takes an obvious academic approach to Chapter 16. He starts off with the history of the web going back to the 1940s. Don't ask. Then we learn what hypertext is. I think we know where this is going. There is, however, a great photo of Sophia Loren wearing a bathing suit circa. 1955.
He analyzes task-oriented and metaphor-oriented design. This is a good thing because we seem hooked on metaphors without looking at tasks. Perhaps tasks are obvious to us. Maybe task-oriented design means usability But then you have to bring in intuitive response and that opens a whole can of worms.
The pages between 575 and 579 cover general design themes such as clustering, sequencing, navigation and usability testing. They're probably the five most important pages in the book.
Another good section of the book is chapter four. It covers user acceptance testing and offers a great sample assessment survey on page 136. I'd be very interested in running this survey on some of our sites as a test.
I don't want to say the rest of the book isn't valuable to us - it is. It just isn't necessary. Most of it deals in theories predating the web -- possibly predating the mouse.
Shneiderman offers a website companion to the book . It's jam packed with updates, study guides and errata such as: "Page 486, first line Gertude should be Gertrude." At least he's trying to practice what he preaches. But how can I fault a man who's Honorary Doctorate of Science comes from my alma Mata?
At 600+ pages, it's both terse and verbose. Verbose, because of the "let me tell you what I'm going to tell you, tell you, tell you what I've told you" format favored in this kind of overview. Terse because the "tell you" part is a kind of white-washed summary; as soon as a topic is brought up, several references are trotted out, summarized in one or two lines, and then dismissed. I wanted more depth, more case studies, and a higher-level vantage point.
Despite a short tour of command lines, including natural language text commands, and a 10 page summary of speech recognition and synthesis-based interfaces, "Designing the User Interface" is almost exclusively about contemporary computer graphical user interface design. Better books on GUI design include Johnson's "GUI Bloopers" and Raskin's "The Humane Interface".
This book is about strategies for effective human-computer interface. It includes guidelines, but it�s not a cookbook of things to do to get there. That these strategies and guidelines are not generally adopted and applied is evidenced by the many poor user interfaces currently available. (I once spent an incredible amount of time totally frustrated simply trying to move from the home page of one of the largest electronic manufacturers in Europe.)
This is a text book and its organization is biased toward academia, with many references to other works and a text book style. Each chapter ends with a researcher�s agenda and practitioner�s summary, but still practitioner�s may complain that the book is too theoretical. To them I would comment that �there is nothing so useful as a good theory�, and check out [...] for examples of the results of applying the ideas in the book.
Ben Shneiderman is one of the legends of HCI and his work includes core principles for the discipline. This book is a must have for all serious students of human-computer interaction and provides an important foundation for developers of user interfaces.