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Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web [Paperback]

by Lukas Mathis
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 25, 2011 1934356751 978-1934356753 1

Have you ever been angry at your computer or cell phone? Do you sometimes wonder why it's so hard to set your watch to the correct time, or why getting your DVR to record your favorite shows is such a chore? Do you dream of making products that are free of these issues and that your customers can actually figure out how to use? This book shows you how to design applications and websites that people will not only use but will absolutely love.

In this book for designers, developers, and product managers, expert developer and user interface designer Lukas Mathis explains how to make usability the cornerstone of every point in your design process, walking you through the necessary steps to plan the design for an application or website, test it, and get usage data after the design is complete. He shows you how to focus your design process on the most important thing: helping people get things done, easily and efficiently.

The author presents a collection of valuable tips - organized in four distinct parts, filled with clever illustrations, and supported by fascinating psychological research. He teaches techniques that help you plan and evaluate your user interface design, and inspires you to look at design in a whole new way. He tells you exactly what to look for, and what to avoid, in creating applications and websites that people will be excited to use.

Frequently Bought Together

Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web + The Design of Everyday Things + Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition
Price for all three: $64.46

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Editorial Reviews


"Make good use of this book! It will help you to improve your work."

—David Naef, Creative director, Design Management Visionaer

"This book is smooth and pleasing like Swiss chocolate and has the eloquence of a cherry blossom. It’s a must-read and real gem for everybody who is eager to learn about usability. "

—Michael D. Trummer, Senior Engagement Manager, Appway, Inc.

“Designed for Use distills Lukas’s brilliant insight into the much neglected area of usability, UX, and UI design. An essential, authoritative, and enlightening read."

—Paul Neave, Interaction Designer, Neave Interactive

About the Author

Lukas Mathis works as a developer and user interface designer for Swiss software company Numcom Software, creator of Appway, a process management software. He writes essays on design and usability at, and he writes about video games for, a Swiss gaming news site. His essays on design have been published on sites like UX Magazine, TidBITS, and Splashnology. He has created a number of online tools for UI design, among them, a collaborative iPhone UI mockup designer.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (June 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934356751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934356753
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Broad overview of many topics in usability July 2, 2011
This book gives a broad overview of many topics in usability. Some, such as paper prototyping and Fitts's law, I was familiar with. Others like card sorting were new to me. Because of the breadth of topics, Lukas never goes into great depth on anything. He does provide lots of references on where to get more information, so this lack of depth is not necessarily a negative. The breadth of topics does give the book a bit of a disjointed feel. Everything he talks about is interesting, but it didn't always flow very well.

He has an example of a business Twitter application. However, I didn't think he fleshed out the example all that much. It could have been a common theme that tied the sections of the book together in a more seamless way.

If you're a designer or programmer who has never been exposed to any of these topics, then you should read it. It will give you a good start on an important topic.

It is a pretty quick read, as I read it over two evenings. It was time well spent for me, and probably for you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The range of methods and tips Lukas Mathis offers in his book are truly high level. They reach from design to testing and all the way to gathering valuable user data. Each chapter will improve the creation of any kind of digital user interface in any state of the process.

No matter whether your project is a website, a digital interface for a communication device, or some kind of CRM-Software, to name just a few - and no matter if you are a designer or a programming pro - you will take big profit from «Designed for Use».

I do not come from the technology side (I'm a graphic designer) and still I read the book in one go. Not all the chapters did have the same level of relevance for my work, but the cleverness contained within definitely helped me to increase my overall awareness towards user experience.

Not to read this book also means to ignore a lot of insights Lukas collected over the years by writing for his expert blog.

Go ahead, do yourself a favor and improve your usability skills by a mile or two.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on Usability December 12, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Designed for Use" is an excellent book. Mathis' voice is very conversational, approachable and readable, but it still remains professional and informative. I was impressed with how well researched this book was, and how it was full of concrete examples that supported the larger abstract concepts. Some of his more obscure references gave me a chuckle. This is exactly how more design books should be written, instead of the vapid texts with no supporting examples or evidence. I found the chapter on what UX designers can learn from games to be a particularly thought provoking exploration and it inspired more than a few new ideas.

The biggest downside is the lack of color. In my opinion, books about design really should be printed in color. I know Pragmatic Programmers are a small publisher with limited runs, but I don't mind paying extra to cover the additional printing costs. I would like to have seen more analysis of existing designs as well, pointing out the UX errors. Perhaps in a future edition Mathis could take a wireframe of a hypothetical app (or two) that a novice designer might have made, and then walked through the iterative process of improving it. I think this would work well as an appendix perhaps. The book would have benefited from more detail and examples on designing custom controls; perhaps we could have seen a dozen or more examples of custom buttons or other UX widgets and Mathis could have deconstructed why they are good/bad. I also found some of the UX testing to be a bit repetitious and felt that some of the chapters on testing could have been merged. The book is still 5/5 and a great value as is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars User Interface Toolkit November 6, 2011
Perhaps more challenging than the code required for program development is the user interface. The code may be bug free, but if the user can't understand the interface quickly, the program is unlikely to be successful.

This book is a very practical introduction to user interface design. The author is a professional interface designer for a software company; his approach to interface design is very organized and methodical. Some of the issues covered in the book include:

I. Research (we do this before we code the interface, right?)
Developing the interface for the person
Focusing on the activity required
Documentation (the real bugaboo of most programs, including the best sellers that generate billions of dollars for their owners)
Appropriate use of text
Using a card sort to understand user thinking
Grokking what users think

II. Design
Sketching/prototyping the interface
Using paper prototypes
Replicating symbols from the real world (realism)
Tricks of button development (Fitts' Law)
Animations - when do they help, and when do they handicap
Consistency - do your users understand a new form because it acts like one they've seen before
Discoverability - What can users find without using the manual or help
Don't Interrupt - don't get in the way of users work flow
Appropriate use of preferences
Avoiding Features (you can have too many features)
What do video games have to teach?

and finally

Read more ›
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