on January 6, 2013
This book was a required text in one of my classes in an M.S. Program in Instructional Design and Technology at CA State University. It ended up being so good that I intend to keep it as a reference book for website design. I learned how to build websites on the lamb, so to speak, learning what I needed when it was needed, so to see how it is supposed to be done was eye-opening! And after reading this book, I notice all sorts of design components on the Web now that I never noticed before. And I am much clearer on what a good and bad design is now too. This book is VERY clear, which is necessary for this topic. It has screen shots which really help with the learning. It is really more of an interface design reference manual. If you are a web designer who taught yourself but feel like you are missing some crucial things, this book fills in the gaps. I loved this book's clarity and organization and I feel it is a good guide for sane design practices and is worthy of keeping on hand as a reference book. I highly recommend this book.
on February 5, 2013
If you're interested in UX at all, this is a great book to have. It's wonderful in two senses: You can read all of it briefly in a couple of hours to get the lay of the land, and then come back to really absorb the areas that particularly apply to what you're doing.
If you're going to have to work with clients on interface design, or have done so, you know that it can often turn into a holy war over where to put buttons and what colors to use. Everyone knows best in that situation, and no one knows why they do. This book presents a pattern language for describing why a button should be where it is or a color should be what it is, which allows you to use theory and logic against managers and customers who have no real idea why they like things they way that they do.
on September 27, 2011
When I first saw this title, I was thinking programmatic interfaces and not user interfaces. As I browsed through the pages of this book, I was pleasantly surprised that it presented me with a lot of ideas for presenting data besides the various bar, line, pie and scatter charts/plots that accompany a popular spreadsheet application.
One of the most useful features is a summary of controls and their pros and cons for using them in your own UIs. Having this for a new UI designer or as a constant reminder for veterans easily simplifies the task of selecting the right data presentation and selection model for your specific needs based on the merits of the control versus simply the available space or aesthetics.
I like the book, the logical organization of content and the writer's depth of experience in designing UIs, both in conventional applications and web-based presentations. Something that you don't get from this kind of review is the depth of content in such well-written and concise sentence structures that strip away the fluff (often over-used in the UI design world) and delivers the meaningful package of data that a practiced, mentally-organized and prepared author delivers where others often fail. This is an artful blending of the medium and the information without simply promoting the salacious simply because it is so compelling.
on January 23, 2011
Jennifer Tidwell presents an essential guide to how to plan the User Interface of your project, whether it be for a website or mobile. Presented in a consistent sequence, the book adds a great wealth of knowledge to the why and what sort of layouts to design, and for someone like me who is a keen mobile developer, being able to supplement Apple's Human Interface Guide with the reasoning is gold. The author identifies the patterns and best practices, an evolution of common problems into a complete useable framework.
The transference of patterns of interaction that are most common in the usability engineer's toolkit is composed into the entire UI canvas, decomposed into visual components, along with the actions that support it, to allow a developer to break down the interface problem into a cookbook for various customisations.
For example, the author first identifies the patterns based on human behaviour, followed by organisation of the content and information based on whether the requirement is a single task/thing, list of things and whether it is a time-sensitive problem (such as news streams). She then further breaks down the patterns according to What, Use When, Why, How along with Examples.
The book even presents Use Cases throughout some of its patterns, and the book is very thorough, detailed and lengthy but it allows you to refer to certain elements you are working on, from the general layout to specific positioning of buttons and input fields, progress indications and so forth.
I normally do not go for UI books, I find them quite inessential but after looking at the benefits of having a UI that is easy to use and matches the intuition of the users (rather than myself), this book is what will be the difference between a good app and a great application. In a competitive app selling environment, reducing negative feedback is based on how well you respond to your customers and this book will get you there.
on May 23, 2013
Just finished my second trip through this book, though this is my first read of the second edition.
Designing Interfaces is a thorough and practical study of the most common design patterns for user interfaces. I found it informative and applicable to my vocation.
on December 7, 2012
"Designing Interfaces" by Jenifer Tidwell combines reference and how-to in one thorough, accessible book. I keep an eBook copy on my iOS devices so I can always have it with me.
Given the title, the book could easily stretch to thousands of pages, but Tidwell does a nice job of delivering a few general intro chapters before diving into a rich collection of interface design patterns. The patterns are what make me keep this book close at hand.
Consider something as mundane as a list of items that needs to appear in a user interface. Designing Interfaces has a whole chapter devoted to this common problem, containing a host of solutions along with the rationale for when to use each one. Examples relating to lists include:
- Thumbnail Grid
- Row Striping
- Alphabet Scroller
Each pattern is described and defined, and some good use cases are supplied as well. This is referred to as the "Use when". (For example, use a Thumbnail Grid when "the list of items have small visual representations that uniquely identify them.")
Even better, each pattern also includes a "Why", "How" and "Examples" of popular apps that correctly use the pattern. I see these three sections as providing value to a slightly different audience.
The "Why" is for an interaction designer to mull over the rationale and ensure that the problem they're solving matches this pattern. If not, they should move on and consider alternatives.
The "How" is more for a visual designer or front-end engineer to understand the nuts and bolts of the implementation. This is quite useful, both details that are easy to overlook and for guidance on what *not* to do.
The "Examples" are useful for anyone with a working eye, but I find them particularly effective as illustrations for non-designer stakeholders and clients to get a sense for "how it will really be." I feel strongly that you can't make progress in those types of discussions without using visuals, so it's convenient that they're baked right into the book.
Though part of me hates to admit it, the fact that the examples are mostly taken from popular, successful sites (YouTube, Zappos, etc.) means the concepts behind them are easier to pitch to clients. Everyone's got tight deadlines, and the less time spent arguing and debating, the better.
If you pull from these patterns to sell your design ideas, you'll find that having a clear vocabulary on the concepts and patterns makes you more effective. If you're doing the pitching, take a close look at the "Use when" and "Why" sections.
When you're brainstorming rough ideas for a given user interface flow, I recommend you take a moment to unpack the true problem at hand and consult a book like this for alternatives that didn't come to mind. It's tempting to rush through the ideation stage when you have a deadline, but I can say that my work has greatly improved if stop to breathe, think and realize others have likely already worked through this problem.
on October 11, 2013
The author does a very good job to describe various design patterns, both for websites and desktop application. There is even a chapter dedicated to mobile app design. The layout of the chapters is very clear and easy to follow. The author describes what the pattern is, what it is for, why you should choose this particular pattern and how you implement it.
You could argue that there isn't any implementation details in code. But that's not what this book is about, so that doesn't take away anything from my grade. I like it very much that the book is so full of colour and has many examples from real websites and other applications. When you are talking about design, you really should show colour instead of greyscale.
Buy this book if you want an introduction to design patterns. Choose which you like and read more about them.
on July 11, 2011
Designing Interfaces Review
Designing interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell is a great introductory text on the many patterns and anti-patterns that exist for creating compelling user discoverable designs. Its simplicity is that it lists many use cases for not just one discipline but many, and engages the reader to start thinking about ways to satisfy, easy discoverable design. It goes over topics like lists and how to arrange them, dialog boxes, menu's and other common application design layouts. While its has a lot of depth it does suffer from being almost too much information.
One of the complaints I have about the book is that it tries to be a foundational piece and expert manuscript at the same time. Also the amount of information and the font size is mind boggling. This is not a short read but rather a long slog through information on design best practices. While it tries to take the reader by the hand by introducing each chapter in excruciating detail. I feel that the amount of detail for this might just be too much considering this is a beginner text.
on August 4, 2011
Still one of the best books on UI design patterns out there. Well-written with clear examples, this book works whether you read it cover-to-cover, or retain it as a reference book. There is a tendency to see some of the examples and say "Well, duh."...but that is precisely the point. Tidwell does an excellent job of identifying the patterns that are out there and familiar to all of us, breaks down why they work so well, and explains when and how to use them. The updated version, which was just released in December 2010, includes additional patterns, including mobile applications and social media. (I would recommend against the Kindle version...there are lots of color photos and the page layout is important to the appreciation of the materials.)"
on July 10, 2011
I find myself consistently referring to this book in my daily work. It's an essential part of any UI designer's library. Due to the evolving nature of technology, I wouldn't say this book is comprehensive, but it's close enough, and covers the vast majority of interface problems one faces. Highly recommended.