on 16 February 2007
It was Albert Einstein who said that "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen". But, despite the title there is nothing common sense about this book. What it does do is turn web application design on its head. Rather than delve into systems design theory and methodology of software implementation, this book concentrates on the user interface, engagement and interaction handling.
This book is aimed largely at people involved in web-based software design and development, yet it should be compulsory reading for any one involved in creating software for anyone else other than themselves. From designers, information architects, programmers to project-managers.
Beginning with the end, that is the end user, and techniques that can be employed to understand user needs versus wants. Building on this, the book moves onto user interaction devices, error handling, clarity and simplicity of application design.
I particularly like the user empowerment to move users from beginners to intermediates as fast as possible and as far as possible, to make the interaction a pleasurable productivity enhancing experience and not a frustrating, fumbling process that infuriates.
The style of writing is uncomplicated and redundant of jargon. Don't get me wrong, there is clear understanding of models and nod towards usabilty theory such as Goal-oriented design and activity-centered design, but with a littering of real-world examples he keeps the reader interested and the subject material fresh.
on 27 October 2009
I cannot agree with the glowing reviews about this book. First off, it's very small, about half the size of a normal computer book. If you rewrote it in normal size it would probably comfortably fit in 100 pages.
Diagrams and illustrations are few and far between, which wouldn't be so bad if there was lots of detail here. But you won't get a comprehensive review of techniques here. What you do get is one web designer's view of some of the processes of interest with some generalised tips of best practices. For instance, there is a section on wireframing in the book, but it doesn't provide any detail about composing wireframes, just a few general remarks such as "minimise the amount of information presented". The book is probably more geared towards a team leader of a design company who is looking for the odd idea here and there in the design process.
on 22 June 2007
There's very little in this short book that I don't agree with. This should be required reading for all those responsible for designing and producing computer based software, web or not. Strip out the jargon and the bloat, get past the 100+ page documentation process that so often dominates in this industry and get down to focussing on exactly what your user base is out to achieve when they fire up your application. Make it easy, quick and if remotely possible enjoyable.