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Required for anyone who is serious about interface design
on January 15, 2003
The field of interface and interaction design is formally known as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). It is significant that a large amount of HCI deals with non-programming issues such as psychological approaches to end-user experience, social manners of the audience, and more. Interaction Design and The Essential Guide to User Interface Design provide a comprehensive overview of the essentials of interface design.
Beyond Interaction Design is an important book for designing effective and capable interfaces to software applications.
Interaction Design is a meat and potatoes book about HCI. Rather than focusing on the software that drives the application, the book analyzes how users actually interact with the system. This interaction is what ultimately will determine whether a system is successful or unproductive.
The book provides a comprehensive look at the entire set of requirements involved with design. The authors show that there is much more to systems design than end-user requirements and CGI scripts. Effective HCI is a multi-disciplinary area including psychology, sociology, anthropology, information systems, and computer science.
The authors write that their book is called "Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction" because it is concerned with the broader scope of issues, topics, and paradigms than has been traditionally written in other books. The book notes that there has never been a greater need for interactions designers and usability engineers to develop current and next-generation interaction technologies. To be successful in the interface design game, programmers need a mixed set of skills, which is not an easy task.
Interaction Design comprises 15 densely packed chapters that integrate all of the various cognitive, social, and other issues that are germane to interaction design. Chapter 1 provides an overview of what makes for good and bad design. Chapter 3 gets into the psychological aspect of HCI and looks at cognition and how users interact with the systems they implement. None of the book makes for easy reading, as the topics at hand are often multifaceted and complex. Chapter 6 deals with the process of interaction design and for the most part ends the psychological approach, while Chapters 7 through 10 deal with the actual design of the system.
The book has a number of real-world case studies, and also includes interviews with various authorities on HCI. However, it does not get into specific technologies (Solaris, Linux, etc.). Also, each chapter concludes with a number of references, which can be used as a launching pad for more information.
I highly recommend Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction for anyone who is serious about interface design. Your users will appreciate it.