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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human-computer interaction in practice, not theory
Few books in the field of human-computer interaction offer such a comprehensive, logical overview of contemporary methods and processes like this one. The authors do an excellent job of distilling HCI techniques into a form that is digestible for newcomers to the field; showing where, when, why, and how requirements gathering, design, prototyping and evaluation should be...
Published on March 7, 2012 by Junius Gunaratne

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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where is Information Architecture?
I picked this up with a lot of excitement; I teach and mentor in the field and have long been looking for something that could become the seminal textbook as opposed to the assortment of books I currently need to assign or recommend to really cover the bases. At first glance this book looks wonderful--it is obviously written by authors with deep expertise, I love that it...
Published 15 months ago by Samantha Bailey


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human-computer interaction in practice, not theory, March 7, 2012
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This review is from: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience (Hardcover)
Few books in the field of human-computer interaction offer such a comprehensive, logical overview of contemporary methods and processes like this one. The authors do an excellent job of distilling HCI techniques into a form that is digestible for newcomers to the field; showing where, when, why, and how requirements gathering, design, prototyping and evaluation should be done.

Whether you're aware of it or not, you are following some sort of process when you design and build a product. This book outlines many of those processes and cycles in clear detail, offering advice as to how you can use such processes to your advantage, and how to improve your current processes. Moreover, the authors describe how to practice HCI in the field with applied techniques ranging from understanding your users' needs to creating paper prototypes and wireframes.

The UX Book also talks about how user experience fits into organizations and how to apply UX design in different organizational contexts. For example, an organization that has a strong software engineering culture will need to approach UX differently from one that has business analysts setting product direction.

Consider this book HCI 101 for students interested in the field or for practitioners who want some formalized background to understand how what they do fits into the larger scope of what UX tries to accomplish. This book does not offer advice on how to become a Photoshop master nor does it offer detail about JavaScript development for high-fidelity prototyping. And unfortunately, because UX is such a broad term, some may mistake this book as a guide for learning about interaction design in detail. Those caveats in mind, this book is second to none if you're interested in learning how to practice HCI methods and how many seemingly abstract academic HCI techniques can work in the real world.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where is Information Architecture?, March 22, 2013
This review is from: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience (Hardcover)
I picked this up with a lot of excitement; I teach and mentor in the field and have long been looking for something that could become the seminal textbook as opposed to the assortment of books I currently need to assign or recommend to really cover the bases. At first glance this book looks wonderful--it is obviously written by authors with deep expertise, I love that it is geared to active learning with the inclusion of exercises, it is thoughtfully organized. As I scanned through the table of contents an alarm bell went off in my mind, however--how could a book purporting to be a comprehensive guide to designing effective user experiences (which primarily still means designing effective user interfaces) fail to include information architecture? This strikes me as a really egregious oversight.

Some books on the topic don't use the term "information architecture" but they still delve deeply into organization, navigation, content strategy, and other critical elements that information architecture encompasses. I'm always disappointed when the term "information architecture" isn't used, as I consider it the best and most widely understood term for capturing this unique set of components--but a rose by any other name still smells as sweet, so I can cope without the term as long as the concepts are there. I don't think that is really the case with this text, however. There is a (thin) chapter on mental models that imperfectly and partially covers this territory--and that is about it.

In reality, this book is an extensive usability evaluation techniques book (and from that aspect it appears to be a very good one) that also includes information on user research techniques and a chapter on prototyping. This is not a comprehensive user experience design text and I would not recommend it as such given that such critical content is absent. I would go as far as to say that students using this book and no other would come away dangerously misguided about what is required to create truly good user interfaces and user experiences.

Another reader that I discussed this with acknowledged that it is troubling that IA is missing in both name and form but encouraged me to appreciate that the book is pretty good at everything else it covers and great at many. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but that seems a bit like saying that we should appreciate an anatomy text for its brilliant coverage of the nervous system, muscles, and organs, and overlook the fact that the skeleton is missing. And that's why I feel that this book can't warrant even a 3 star review.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grab this book!, September 10, 2012
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In a world where user experience is often regarded as an after-thought or a "nice to have," this book really makes the case for a comprehensive and integrated approach to building interactive systems. If you want to convince someone on your team about the importance of user experience, you will find many talking points in this book. If you yourself want to learn about user experience, and why it is absolutely essential, buy this book.

Much of user experience in practice is at the overlap of psychology, design, and software engineering. A lot of UX books are heavy on the psychology side, and speak to an academic audience. Talking about abstract theories from psychology may not translate well among the software development team. This book helps bridge that gap by talking about UX in a common sense way. The book presents Wheel, a process to "ensure a quality user experience" in a systematic software-engineering-like that developers can relate to and apply.

Try this: When you run into a UX challenge at work, don't pull the book off the shelf... but really think of how YOU would approach that problem. THEN go back and read the book. You will see how much it rings true. You would digest the material and remember it better, that way. If you just read it cover to cover without a real problem to solve in your mind, you might not feel the true impact of the book. You might think "yeah - what's the big deal about a bunch of post-it notes on a wall or sketching dozens of design ideas when only one will be used?" But if you tried approaching the problem yourself first, you'd appreciate the value of the methods suggested in the book.

Actionable, practical, down-to-earth advice for students and practitioners, with some humor too! GRAB THIS BOOK!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not recommend for the UX designer army of one., May 2, 2013
This review is from: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience (Hardcover)
I'm a UX designer who is typically employed as the sole UX designer or consultant in the organization. This book was just way too deep in the weeds for my purposes. The writing is very academic and having learned my trade through practice and not formal education I found myself having to look things up every now and again. That being said I learned some new stuff, but I'm not sure the pain to benefit was justified. I didn't want to abandon the book entirely (all 900 pages of it) so I ended up just reading the intros and diving deeper into each section if I found it relevant. Ultimately for the 'typical' ux designer in medium to small organizations I would say look elsewhere unless you're seriously bored. For students or practitioners in a large formally structured production environment this would be a win.
Cheers,
Pete

Oh, and if you'd like to get a solid high level read of the book I highly recommend the following link. It has excerpts from each major section heading:
[...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding & Practical for Business and UX Practioners, June 5, 2012
This review is from: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience (Hardcover)
Since working in a UX Research and Usability group in a large company since 1997, I've often wondered who will write the ultimate practical guide to ensuring a great user experience. The UX Book is it: sound UX guidelines and principles that are not pure academia even though it is developed as a solid university course. Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla wrote this book based on their years of teaching the principles and putting them into practice with plenty of feedback from students and colleagues.

I've read many other Human Factors, design, and User Experience books over the years that cover topics in detail. However, Rex and Pardha pulled everything together under one roof and explained how UX can and should work in the real world. They covered the spectrum from UX guidelines, to working within the Agile process usability testing, prototyping, contextual inquiry, design ideation, mental models, etc.

The UX Book covers every topic with examples, definitions, guest commentaries, exercises, and useful/usable explanations. I like the visuals provided - from sketches and pictures to tables that easily explain the concepts to anyone. I often use their info in this book to explain to business and Information Technology people what a concept means, why it is important to our business success, and how it can be implemented. This book bridges that gap between UX design and software engineering.

I find myself agreeing with Rex and Pardha as I consult with our project teams on their UX design projects and especially after years of facilitating usability testing with thousands of users. I've taught classes in our company since 2010 and found myself saying aloud while reading through the chapters, "That's what I've said in class and to our teams!" At the same time, I've discovered fresh ways of explaining concepts I've known for years and The UX Book has also filled in gaps in my knowledge.

I hope that anyone who works in creating the User Experience such as interaction designers, human factors researchers, business requirements analysts, project managers, and developers reads this book which should become the standard teaching tool in companies and universities. Anyone who professes to know what UX is about will find new and exciting ideas that they may have overlooked.

Congrats, Rex and Pardha! Well done and thanks for giving us theuxbook.net web site for additional material.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an essential UX design book, May 27, 2012
This review is from: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience (Hardcover)
Having taken Dr. Hartson's class before, I am thrilled to see this book coming. This book reflects a deeply knowing and most practical guide to user experience: how users work, what they do, how they think, and how to design for people. This classic has no rival in its field.

The book provides an engaging and informative guide on the design and analyses. Many practical design principles are presented at every stage of a produce design life cycle. It is not only useful for computer scientists but anyone who exercise design. Finally, I especially liked the sidebars in the book where experts in the field share their insights on UX.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first of its kind, July 25, 2012
This review is from: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience (Hardcover)
Hartson and Pyla have compiled a fantastic resource for both UX beginners and professionals alike. As an interaction designer and practitioner in the field (with an academic background), I highly recommend "The UX Book" as a both an educational tool for those who are just starting in the field, as well as a complete reference guide for the advanced professional who may have forgotten a thing or two over the years. I might add that, even for the advanced UXer, the material offered in this book will fill any knowledge gaps and further solidify their understanding of user-centered design (UCD) principles. And contrary to the common textbook stereotypes of being longwinded and verbose, this one is actually a good read, with a delicate touch of humor here and there to keep the reader engaged.

Although one might expect somewhat intangible and purely theoretical content from two authors that have predominately academic backgrounds, on the contrary, "The UX Book" successfully demonstrates core UX concepts using real-world examples to which the every day practitioner can relate. From user research to usability evaluation, and everything in between, Hartson and Pyla dive deep into core UCD principles, devoting entire (and sometimes multiple) chapters to concepts such as contextual inquiry, ideation, sketching, prototyping, and usability evaluation (both rapid and rigorous methods). I cannot find a topic that is missed!

In addition to the UX Book being the most complete reference of known and established UCD principles, the two authors also make several unique and necessary contributions to the field. For example, Chapter 22 devotes over 100 pages to UX design guidelines, but it does so in a much more tangible and relatable way. Traditionally, design guidelines have used a taxonomy of generic UX keywords or categories, such as "consistency", "simplicity", etc. without much more context than just those categories. Hartson and Pyla, however, realized that, more often than not, this introduces vagueness and difficulty when applying them to a real design problem. Every designer knows that rarely does a design challenge come along that allows such broad guidelines to be applied perfectly. There are always unique contextual factors that require seemingly arbitrary design decisions. Well, to alleviate this, the authors associate each guideline, not only with a high level category, but more importantly with a different user action within the Interaction Cycle (i.e., Planning->Translation->Physical Actions->Assessment). Although this may not eliminate all design decision paralysis (which the authors candidly admit), a seemingly general guideline is actually much more applicable since it is now categorized within the specific context of a user action--a fantastic and much needed contribution to the field!

I am delighted that this resource is now available to the masses. I look forward to an upcoming generation of usable and well-designed products both in the technology community and beyond, which is now possible if everyone would just read and follow the guidelines outlined in this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For new and seasoned practitioners alike!, June 28, 2012
This review is from: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience (Hardcover)
This text is a fantastic tool to keep handy. Whether you formally studied HCI or are a practitioner learning on the job, GET THIS BOOK! The book teaches us through hands-on exercises and real-world examples. It's a large text, but the authors continuously encourage you to stop, drop and practice. They are right! It's nice knowing that you can build your skills in chunks, starting with small projects. The book helps us build good user experience practices into our 'muscle memory.' I was formally trained in HCI, have been working in the field for over 6 years, and I'm giddy to be reading through this book. If you enjoy great design, you will enjoy it too!

As we say in dance, it's always good to go over the basics. No matter how good you are, referencing the fundamentals will keep us disciplined, fresh, and inspired. So whether you're new to HCI or have been in the trenches, you'll gain a lot from this book. I find myself referencing it already.

I recommend starting with (and referencing again and again) the last chapter, "Making it Work in the Real World." It's inspirational and a good perspective as you soak in how to create and refine interaction design through the meat of this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential book for CS major or for anyone interested in UX, May 20, 2012
By 
Ronak Parikh (Edison, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience (Hardcover)
Part of my work entails designing software front end for financial professionals. As a computer science major, I am good at application design. However, when it comes to human computer interaction (HCI) I have a lot to learn. User eXperience or HCI is not covered at most institutions in their Computer Science curriculum.
This book is an essential part of a complete Computer Science education. It is thorough in its coverage. A reader start from Charter 1 and build up the concepts and by the end of the book, Chapter 24, reader is given practical tips of how to make all these concepts work in the real world. I personally found the chapter on The Interaction Cycle and the User Action Framework and chapter on prototyping to be very useful.
Each chapter starts with a funny yet practical quote about the topic covered in that chapter. Objectives that the authors want their readers to achieve from the chapter, is listed at the beginning of each chapter. There are little blue boxes on the left or right side of the chapter for giving extra context around a topic in a given paragraph. Quite frequently two or three page details a cutting edge topic (ex, about 3D design). There are framework diagram and pictures to demonstrate environment setup for prototyping. A rich list of references to additional reading material is provides in each chapter footnote. For active learning, there are exercises for the reader to try out. These exercises are listed together at the end of the book. Little brown boxes indicate to the reader inside a chapter that there is an exercise for them to try to learn about the concept just referred.
I have no doubt this will be a required course textbook in many colleges for their User eXperience curriculum.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Snoozles - Good luck reading this, December 12, 2013
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I have plenty of UX books, but I really thought I was investing when I bought this one. I thought I was getting the book of all UX books - it's so fat, it should answer all my UX questions and more. It should be the ultimate resource.

Long story short, I can't even read the book. Academic is the right way to describe the elevated writing style. I'll call it institutional-speak. I find myself needing to translate what was said after almost each sentence read. (If you want to test it for yourself, read 2 or 3 pages straight from the Amazon preview. That should give you a good idea of the writing style.)

I have no doubt that the authors are experts in their field. By reading the reviews, it sounds like at least one of them teaches a class on UX and this is the 900+ page research documentation of everything UX. This might explain the dry textbook language, but it doesn't make for a good book. For me it's is just unreadable. Unless you need it for a class, don't bother buying it.
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The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience
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