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About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design [Paperback]

by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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There is a newer edition of this item:
About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design 3.8 out of 5 stars (29)
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Book Description

March 28, 2003 0764526413 978-0764526411 2
"The following description is for the second edition of About Face. The 3rd Edtion, About Face 3 (ISBN 0470084111), is now available."

First published seven years ago-just before the World Wide Web exploded into dominance in the software world-About Face rapidly became a bestseller. While the ideas and principles in the original book remain as relevant as ever, the examples in About Face 2.0 are updated to reflect the evolution of the Web.

Interaction Design professionals are constantly seeking to ensure that software and software-enabled products are developed with the end-user's goals in mind, that is, to make them more powerful and enjoyable for people who use them. About Face 2.0 ensures that these objectives are met with the utmost ease and efficiency.

Alan Cooper (Palo Alto, CA) has spent a decade making high-tech products easier to use and less expensive to build-a practice known as "Interaction Design." Cooper is now the leader in this growing field. Mr. Cooper is also the author of two bestselling books that are widely considered indispensable texts. About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design, intro-duced the first comprehensive set of practical design principles. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum explains how talented people and companies continually create aggravating high-tech products that fail to meet customer expectations.

Robert Reimann has spent the past 15 years pushing the boundaries of digital products as a designer, writer, lecturer, and consultant. He has led dozens of interaction design projects in domains including e-commerce, portals, desktop productivity, authoring environments, medical and scientific instrumentation, wireless, and handheld devices for startups and Fortune 500 clients alike. Joining Cooper in 1996, Reimann led the development and refinement of many goal-directed design methods described in About Face 2.0. He has lectured on these methods at major universities and to international industry audiences. He is a member of the advisory board of the UC Berkeley Institute of Design.

Editorial Reviews


&provides detailed and easily readable information on interaction design& -- M2 Best Books, 23 July 2003

"...provides detailed and easily readable information on interaction design..." -- M2 Best Books, 23 July 2003

"developers have a lot to learn from this book..." -- Managing Information, April 2004

“…very informative and challenging…ought to be read by any one who makes any claim to design user interfaces. Highly recommended..” (ACCU, 13th February, 2005)

"...provides detailed and easily readable information on interaction design..." (M2 Best Books, 23 July 2003)

"developers have a lot to learn from this book..." (Managing Information, April 2004)

From the Back Cover

Dear Reader,

In the eight years since this book was first published, the ideas that seemed do radical at first have become standard models across the industry. Many practicioners have adopted them and seen dramatic improvements in their products.

This book would not have been possible without the commitment of the many organizations over the past decade that hired Cooper, my design consulting company. They demonstrated a great measure of self-confidence to break from the pack.

By the same token, the many brilliant and talented people who have worked at Cooper have pushed the limits of my original thinking far beyond where I started. They have put their professional reputations on the line to prove that there is a higher standard and better ways to achieve it.

In this significantly revised and expanded edition of the book, Robert Reimann and I have rewritten and reorganized every page. Together we have:

  • Updated examples to reflect the current state of the art, and included more examples from Cooper design solutions
  • Included references to recent technology and industry developments
  • Added an entirely new section covering Cooper's Goal-Directed Design methods such as personas, goals, and scenarios in detail
  • Added new chapters on visual design, as well as interaction design issues for embedded systems and the Web
  • Added a bibliography of design reference sources

Thanks for joining me in the pursuit of better software, happier programmers and designers, more successful businesses, and extremely satisfied users.

Alan Cooper
Founder & Chairman of the Board

"About Face 2.0 is one of the very rare design books that's fun to read, even though it rocks fundamental beliefs and packs the page with useful information. It's a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what the software design process should be (but usually isn't). The perspective is unique: intellectually rigorous enough for academics while remaining focused on helping practitioners. I'd recommend this book to anybody in the business."
– Harley Manning, Research Director, Forrester Research

Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 2 edition (March 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764526413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764526411
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Annoyingly excellent August 24, 2004
By qqqqqqq
This book is a self-indulgent rant, that is also poorly edited and structured. If the authors had read their own book and applied their principles to its pages, reading it would have been as much of a pleasure as using software that follows their advice.

Why do I give it 5 stars?

Because beneath the diatribes and soapbox oration there is a depth of experience and of thought I have not found elsewhere.

The authors have considered the issue of what makes using software a pleasurable experience for the user in a depth and with a degree of insight that opened my eyes.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Two thirds of this book are roughly the same as the previous version, but if you want to find some new gems of information you should read it all. Reading it all was no exercise for me. It reminded me of some issues I had forgetten and am not using and I was pleased to be reminded.
The first part on the Cooper Process is excellent and gives lots of insights and new information. The new chapter on Visual Design is a bit simplistic in my view, but if you know the matter you shouldn't be bothered by that.
All examples are updated and fresh. Some new pictures of Cooper project help in making the case. I particularly liked the interactive pie charts for example.
As the Web is moving towards Rich Internet application and the desktop applicatios are moving towards Rich Internet information applications this is the best and most up to date resource for Interaction Design we have at this moment.
I read it in a weekend. I bet you will too...
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good on concepts, weaker on examples February 20, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This follow up to About Face is a good overview of the critical concepts to improve software usability. Cooper and Reiman know their stuff. Reading this certainly provides you with the grounding you need to make good decisions. At a tactical level, the book could certainly do more to help with real-world examples.

For that, you may want to take a look instead at Jenifer Tidwell's Designing Interfaces : Patterns for Effective Interaction Design. Where About Face is strong on theory, Designing Interfaces is all about practical ideas, demonstrated through graphical examples.

If UI is an important part of your world, buy them both.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just ignore the pomposity September 28, 2005
A great book , with alot of great content. Unfortunately , as has been noted before, the author's tone is often arrogant and demeaning. Throughout the book he stresses never make the user feel stupid , then on the next line he's calling you the reader / developer stupid because you did this or that. But don't let that ruin the book. Just like with most things in life , you have to weed out the BS and negativity to get to the good stuff. It really is a shame they didn't apply their own techniques to the book though.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Immediate benefits to my software product February 15, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Out of reading this book, I was inspired to make many changes to my software interface that resulted in dramatic improvements to quality and usability. There are times when I wish it had more out-of-the-box solutions and concrete examples of how to design, and there are times when it devolves to ranting. But there is real help here for me as a software designer.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not enough practical ideas February 13, 2006
By LukeP
Background. I am an applications developer with 10 years experience. I usually write applications that are very "User centric" and I am always looking for ways to improve my design skills

I found this book to be very strong in some areas and very weak in others.

For example, in the first section where it is talking about the analysis, the ideas it suggests is very good but hard to grasp in practical terms. A case study example to tie all the stages together would have been invaluable.

Later on when the authors are talking about the "exise" they make a strong case of why it should be avoided but fail to mention the single biggest exise mistake of any application whch is the "mouse to keboard to mouse" transition.

In the later parts of the book when it gets down individual controls it really just describes them without giving any real concrete advise on how they should be used. I got as many good ideas from a single Joel on software blog than this whole section

I found myself disagreeing with several sections of the book, most notably the section on files and databases.

On the other hand the sections on "Posture" and "goals" has certainly made me think about applications differently.

On balance I think that it was valuable for me to read this book but I was dissappointed that there was so little in the way of "tips and tricks" and not enough examples in the earlier sections to really illustrate the points made
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tought medicine for most software developers October 26, 2003
When Alan Cooper wrote the first edition of About Face in 1997, the software industry was in the midst of its biggest change ever. Just about every new user interface was being created in the context of a Web browser. Cooper was the leading advocate to persuade software developers, graphic artists, usability designers, and interaction designers to avoid bringing the mistakes that got baked into desktop application software developing into Web development. His impact has been profound, but not very easy for most software developers.
Key to this book is to understand that it challenges software developers to consider a user's goals first. And the book means "a user", not all of the users, but a single user. I've been to Alan's presentations and you can see the software developers in the audience squirm in their seats. "Don't I have to build my software to work for the largest group of users?" they ask. Alan's book says "No. Instead, build for a single user, and make sure your work accomplishes their one goal." About Face might be better titled "User Goal Oriented Software Development."
The book's focus on "interaction design," as opposed to user interface design, matches the key theme of user goal oriented development. For example, when my printer runs out of ink a dialog box appears on my computer asking for me to put more ink into the printer and then click one of the following buttons: Finish and Continue. As the user, my goal is to Finish, but the software wants me to put more ink in the printer and then to Continue. Interaction Design addresses this problem, where user interface design would more likely tell the software developer where to place the buttons in the dialog box. Interaction design keeps the focus on user goals.
I loved the original book, and find the new release to be refreshing.
-Frank Cohen, [...]
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good theory and some practical advice
I'm glad I finally got around to reading About Face. Like the book, I can put off UI development, but eventually I have to face reality and get it done, and get it done right. Read more
Published on January 8, 2009 by Joseph Reddy
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Cooper is a genius
This book not only defines a "layman user" but also answers the question of how your application can educate a layman user step by step.
Published on April 6, 2007 by r
5.0 out of 5 stars Designing of application
How to design a application from a designers perspective. Cannot say I agree with everything, but the writers are probably right.
Published on November 9, 2006 by MP
1.0 out of 5 stars Needs more examples!
I think this guy has a book about how the inmates are running the asylum...well this book suffers from what happens when the subject matter experts (SME) are allowed to write... Read more
Published on May 15, 2006 by Dan Thatcher
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for experienced developers
I have 7 years experience and I wasn't able to get any value out of this book. Based on some of the reviews on this site I thought that the book would be worth buying but unless... Read more
Published on March 5, 2006 by developer123
4.0 out of 5 stars Many good ideas with a little too much preaching
This book describes problems that people have when using software in everyday terms, while explaining the underlying problem. Read more
Published on December 24, 2005 by calvinnme
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read book for interface / interaction designers
- Cooper & Reimann have clearly explained the steps involved in the 'user centered design' process in a logical and easy to understand manner. Read more
Published on July 27, 2004 by Muthu
3.0 out of 5 stars Good techniques on design, but sometimes a bit preachy
Personas and goal-directed design are great techniques for putting together a quality product and really making sure that you're building the right things for your users. Read more
Published on February 7, 2004 by Lars Bergstrom
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