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Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design [Kindle Edition]

Jenifer Tidwell
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Designing a good interface isn't easy. Users demand software that is well-behaved, good-looking, and easy to use. Your clients or managers demand originality and a short time to market. Your UI technology -- web applications, desktop software, even mobile devices -- may give you the tools you need, but little guidance on how to use them well.

UI designers over the years have refined the art of interface design, evolving many best practices and reusable ideas. If you learn these, and understand why the best user interfaces work so well, you too can design engaging and usable interfaces with less guesswork and more confidence.

Designing Interfaces captures those best practices as design patterns -- solutions to common design problems, tailored to the situation at hand. Each pattern contains practical advice that you can put to use immediately, plus a variety of examples illustrated in full color. You'll get recommendations, design alternatives, and warningson when not to use them.

Each chapter's introduction describes key design concepts that are often misunderstood, such as affordances, visual hierarchy, navigational distance, and the use of color. These give you a deeper understanding of why the patterns work, and how to apply them with more insight.

A book can't design an interface for you -- no foolproof design process is given here -- but Designing Interfaces does give you concrete ideas that you can mix and recombine as you see fit. Experienced designers can use it as a sourcebook of ideas. Novice designers will find a roadmap to the world of interface and interaction design, with enough guidance to start using these patterns immediately.

Editorial Reviews


"This is a definitely good book to study before you set out to design some new application or website and maybe an inspiration to revisit existing material." - John Collins, news@UK, September 2006

About the Author

For more than a decade, Jenifer Tidwell has been designing and building user interfaces for a variety of industry verticals, often in the Java programming language. She has experience in designing both desktop and Web applications. As a user interface designer at The MathWorks, Jenifer was instrumental in a redesign of the charting and visualization UI of MATLAB, which is used by researchers, students, and engineers worldwide to develop cars, planes, proteins, and theories about the universe.

Product Details

  • File Size: 11122 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0596008031
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (February 9, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0026OR2W2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,855 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
163 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of user interface design book December 4, 2005
This book is different from most books on designing user interfaces since the ideas are presented as design patterns, much as you would see in Gamma's classic book on the subject had it been adapted to human-computer interfacing rather than programming. Each of the patterns and techniques presented in this book are intended to help the reader solve common design problems. Patterns and techniques are presented for web sites, desktop applications, and everything in between such as web forms, Flash, and applets. The user interface design patterns presented in this book are intended to be read by people who have some knowledge of UI design concepts and terminology: dialogs, selection, combo boxes, navigation bars, whitespace, branding, and so on. The book does not identify many widely-accepted techniques such as copy-and-paste, as it is assumed that you probably already know what this is. However, some common techniques are described here to encourage their use in other contexts -- for instance, desktop apps could make better use of Toplevel Navigation -- or to discuss them alongside alternative solutions. If you're running short on ideas, or hung up on a difficult design problem, skimming this book and its design patterns may help you produce a good solution.
Each pattern is presented with an image showing a possible implementation, a "Use When" section, a "Why" section, and a "How" section with very high level tool-independent implementation instructions. The patterns are organized into groups by function - organizing content, getting around, organizing the page, getting input from users, showing complex data, commands and action, direct manipulation, and stylistic elements.
I would highly recommend this logically structured book to anyone from programmer to graphic artist who might be involved in user interface design.
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91 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Widgets and aesthetics December 21, 2005
This book is lavishly illustrated and fun to read. The sections are color-coded and there are few pages without at least one full-color illustration. So often, Web app team workers and managers get grey on grey and so often our output reflects that.

There are flow patterns, layout patterns, widget patterns galore. All good, but the chapter that gave me the most food for thought was the last, "Making It Look Good: Visual Style and Aesthetics." A Stanford study indicates that the most important factor in Web site credibility is the appearance of the site. This is probably also true of Web applications, but not in the same way. I have often had to go toe to toe with developers and executive managers who want to jazz things up with a far heavier, "more impressive" graphical treatment. VPs and marketers want something snazzy to show clients -- but they forget that someone who actually has to *use* an application in their workday may not find "snazzy" to be attractive at all.

Reading this chapter gave me more confidence that the choices in typography, color balance, contrast, and whitespace our teams arrived at through much effort have been correct and beneficial ones.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for designers... November 8, 2006
I arrived at "Designing Interfaces" with a hunger for detail and references as we head deep into revising the interface of a whole section of a web site I am in charge of. And the timing couldn't have been better. Jenifer (with one "n") Tidwell is right on the money when it comes to offering a broad range of options to address just about any interface design need you may run into. Her experience working with Matlab's Mathworks didn't limit her to offering advice for client software interface design.

Tidwell goes well beyond it, delving into web design and mobile interface waters, which she swims with equal comfort and efficiency. As a matter of fact, at times the presentation of samples from alternate media/platforms (client software or mobile) pulls those of us who are more comfortable within web application development out of our comfort zone, presenting us with innovative ways to solve old problems.

All in all, this becomes a must reference for anyone needing to learn or polish skills in software interface design for any medium. And this is not limited to designers: I am an Application Development Manager and I learned a lot from "Designing Interfaces" too.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jump-started my problem-solving process March 20, 2007
By sonya34
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having already read through the first few chapters, today I sat down with an explicit need: to solve a problem that involved searching and filtering a large set of data. This book came through for me. Yes, some of it appears obvious when you first read through, but once you have a specific problem to address, its true utility emerges. I opened to the Showing Complex Data chapter, and as I read through, ideas began to form. Some came directly from the book, others were inspired by or related to what I was reading. I took notes, and those notes helped me develop the questions about the data and the users I need to answer in order to continue.

When you're faced with a design challenge, and you're a bit stymied as to how to proceed, this book will help move the solution forward. Even if you think you have a solution, this book can help you make it fresh and creative.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Novice Reviews November 9, 2006
This book takes an admirable stab at removing the arbitrariness in building an interface from scratch. Tidwell lucidly examines common gestalt design principles and their ramifications in actual designs of web pages, mobile devices and other graphical interface technologies. Proximity, for example, can mean the difference between intuitively linking items in an interface or intuitively creating a distinction between them. Other reviewers bash her for pointing out the obvious, but it is the cataloging, enumerating, condensing of the obvious (sprinkled with the insights of a professional) which makes this book helpful to anyone daunted by the task of making an app that is the Gmail to the quotidian, more-awful-to-use-by-the-second Hotmail.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good; all of this stuff is online
Good; all of this stuff is online. This one is dated. Easy to look at. Sometimes the author's voice is irritating. But she is generally clear and insightful.
Published 6 months ago by Howard Eichenblatt
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fast service and book was exactly as described and shown.
Published 7 months ago by Sarah R.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for UI/UX design
It's a great reference book, but I strongly recommend the print copy over the kindle copy. Why? If you can call a book an interface, then the print copy is a better interface. Read more
Published on December 4, 2012 by J. Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Find the best solution for particular UI related issues
Patterns are present within IT industry for quite some time. Typically, books related to patterns application refer to particular language and present patterns either using either... Read more
Published on July 26, 2011 by mko
2.0 out of 5 stars A very disappointing read
This book might help a beginner, but I mean REALLY, anyone who uses web applications on a regular basis and pays attention to the details, already knows this stuff. Read more
Published on June 29, 2010 by jpvisual
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Version Layout Is Terrible
I bought the Kindle version of this book for the 'Kindle for PC' software, and while the content is probably good, the layout in this format is a nightmare. Read more
Published on February 20, 2010 by D. Rech
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a very usefull book
Based on the Recommendation on Amazon I bought 3 copies of this book for my software development team. Read more
Published on January 9, 2010 by A. B. Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars Does What It Was Written To Do
I had to get this book for one of my classes and I will admit it is not a book for experts in the field of "Designing Interfaces", but it's great for beginners and good for anyone... Read more
Published on November 2, 2009 by Ardit Veliu
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is great for anyone designing any type of interface
Jenifer Tidwell, an interaction designer and software developer for The Mathworks, makes it easy for people from all different designing backgrounds (beginner to expert) to learn... Read more
Published on September 26, 2009 by J. Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Great foundation on interface design
This is the second book I have bought about interface design and it is the best one to date. I really like how the book breaks down the sections by devices and subject matter. Read more
Published on June 29, 2009 by Scott L. Petrovic
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More About the Author

For nearly two decades, Jenifer Tidwell has been designing and building user interfaces for a variety of industry verticals. She has experience in designing both desktop and Web applications, and currently designs and develops websites for small businesses.

She recently worked on redesigning the interface for Google Books. Before that, as a user interface designer at The MathWorks, Jenifer was instrumental in a redesign of the charting and visualization UI of MATLAB, which is used by researchers, students, and engineers worldwide to develop cars, planes, proteins, and theories about the universe.

Jenifer blogs about UI patterns and other design-related topics at http://designinginterfaces.com/blog.

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