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Bill Scott is director of UI Engineering at Netflix in Los Gatos, CA, where he plies his interface engineering and design skills. Scott is the former Yahoo! Ajax evangelist and pattern curator for the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library.
He has a long and glamorous history in the IT world, due mostly to his unique understanding of both the technical and creative aspects of designing usable products. His ramblings and musings can be found at http://www.looksgoodworkswell.com.
Theresa Neil is a user experience consultant in Austin, Texas, where she designs rich applications for start-ups and Fortune500 companies.
Who is it for? I would recommend this book for art directors, project managers, web designers (all levels), interactive designers, DVD menu designers (though not directly related, you can still take away some important aspects or "patterns"), and especially those that design online training modules (we all know how dull they can be.) Like the DVD menu designers I mentioned above, I think Flash designers can benefit greatly, as well. Though the book is not directly geared toward Flash design, the patterns and "anti-patterns" talked about can easily be used when designing for a Flash experience.
The layout of the book is broken up into the 6 "principles" described in the product description of this book. The sections "Make It Direct" and "Stay on the Page" are by far the two largest sections, for they are the most important of the 6. "Keep it Lightweight" is the shortest section/principle, but by no means is rushed or glossed over. It poses some great design ideas to keep it intuitive, discoverable and keep you from designing 'mouse traps.'
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Nicely organized and layouted, well-written, and, in my opinion, thought-through easy-to-grasp structure. I was studying many patterns in the Yahoo! pattern library online and I am glad that Bill Scott finally published a book with the same clarity and logic that I came to like online.
Will become a standard in the company I work for and I am sure our clients will already start to "fear" discussions around the six principles when arguing with our consultants for what should be done and how :-)
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Scott is a/the genius behind Netflix and Yahoo!'s interfaces, so I got this book to figure out how to make my web interface programming work more professional.
However, much of what I've read here goes against the spirit of the design I was taught to do in grad school. For example, Netflix/Yahoo! make complex designs that are highly functional for expert users, and at-least reasonably usable for intermediate users. These designs feature transitions which use fades, transparent controls which only become visible when a user hovers, and dueling interfaces which allow power-users to move at a different speed than weaker users, etc.
By comparison, my grad program emphasizes designing for readability, learnability and with a singular notion of organizational principles structuring content in such a way that it is accessible to humans, search engines, and user agents (speech synthesis for visually impaired users). In Designing Web Interfaces, this perspective is consistently swept aside in the quest to build "rich interactions" at the expense of these peripheral users.
The result for me of this encounter with "Designing Web Interfaces" has been a renewed appreciation of how hard it is to make interface design choices. So often design is a question of framing, which establishes who the audience is, what the goals are, and what standards to use for a product.
I think at best, this book offers insight into future trends of professional design -- what Scott calls "rich interactions". However, I have a feeling that I'll always be more on the novice/disabled/user-agent user's side, leaning towards standard-based and user-centered designs, no matter what these captains of industry are cooking up.
This book is very well crafted and compiles a very solid body of knowledge that too many UI designers simply ignore. The problem is that this book is simply outdated, as many new interface paradigms are not covered, and some of the old material feels a bit simplistic now that the body of knowledge available to UI designers has grown. If money is no issue, you should still own a copy of this book for reference, but do so with the knowledge that an update is sorely needed and that you will be partially disappointed by it.