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Interaction Design for Complex Problem Solving: Developing Useful and Usable Software (Interactive Technologies) Paperback – November 3, 2003

ISBN-13: 000-1558608311 ISBN-10: 1558608311 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Interactive Technologies
  • Paperback: 397 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 1 edition (November 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558608311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558608313
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,092,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


If your team already has someone responsible for the HCI of your products, encourage them to read this book and discuss the resulting issues with you. In the context of a team it might also be helpful to make this book a team study effort so that you all better understand those extra constraints on the total product that are necessary to convert excellent software into excellent usable software.
--from a review by Francis Glassborow on

Barbara Mirel has spent years studying users for whom simple software solutions aren't sufficient. Interaction Design for Complex Problem Solving is the first book to tackle the thorny problem of developing software that is both usable and useful for users who have complex problems to solve. With clear explanations, detailed case studies, and thoughtful ideas about how to proceed, this is an excellent resource for designers, developers, and usability specialists.
--Janice (Ginny) Redish, Redish & Associates, Inc.

At last we have a text to help interaction designers, technical communicators, and programmers understand (rather than defeat) the complexities of users engaged in knowledge work in real-world contexts. Barbara Mirel's Interaction Design for Complex Problem Solving weaves theory and practice into a coherent, rich framework for thinking about, researching, and designing powerful and useful systems.
--Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Clarkson University

Barbara Mirel cracks open the problem of software usefulness with vigor and ambition. Her rich analysis of real-world problem-solving scenarios yields insight into previously neglected general and domain-specific aspects of complex problems. From these she generates much-needed advice for designing intelligently useful software.

"Mirel's models for examining complex problem solving are interesting, and the implications for her argument are clear...Thus, this text is a new argument toward that push and a reshaping of our outlook toward design, formalized research methods, usefulness, and usability in general, which makes this text a densely rich read worth several explorations." - Victoria Sharpe - Technical Communication
--T. R. Girill, University of California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

"The book is well worth reading. It provides a broad-based critique of oversimplifying approaches that is hard to beat and a level of sophistication about complex problem solving that would be hard to match. I am positive that I will return to it and cite it frequently as I continue to work through similar issues in my work." - Clay Spinuzzi - University of Texas at Austin

Book Description

Addresses the question "What does it take to design truly useful software for complex problem solving?"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Carter on September 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
An excellent, in depth, treatment of this topic. Her framework addresses "core activities within a task landscape," ie, dealing with large amounts of information, finding your way through the analysis & making sense of the results. Then she presents case studies applying this framework to different fields, including the design of a visualization tool.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Karl Mochel on September 13, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Provides frameworks for exploration and discussion of designing for usefulness. Due to the youth of the field it doesn't provide complete solutions or processes.

Brings together, organizes articulately, and effectively cites authoritative resources.

Provides a strategic framework for modeling users context/work at a process vs task oriented level.

Has relevant examples of complex situations that address meaningful issues for users

- Marketing Research - optimal product mix decisions

- Healthcare - complex social and technical systems

- IT - troubleshooting sophisticated systems

- Project Mgt - managing projects
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