About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design 3rd Edition
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From the Back Cover
When the first edition of About Face was published in 1995, the idea of designing products based on human goals was a revolutionary concept. Thanks to the work of Alan Cooper and other pioneers, interaction design is now widely recognized as a unique and vital discipline, but our work is far from finished.
This completely updated volume presents the effective and practical tools you need to design great desktop applications, Web 2.0 sites, and mobile devices. This book will teach you the principles of good product behavior and introduce you to Cooper's Goal-Directed Design method, from conducting user research to defining your product using personas and scenarios. In short, About Face 3 will show you how to design the best possible digital products and services.
About the Author
As Director of Design R&D at Cooper, Robert Reimann led dozens of design projects and helped develop many of the methods described in About Face 3. Currently, he is Manager of User Experience at Bose Corporation and President of IxDA, the Interaction Design Association.
David Cronin is Director of Interaction Design at Cooper, where he's led the design of products for such diverse users as surgeons, museum visitors, online shoppers, automobile drivers, financial analysts, and the elderly.
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1. It's a great intro to interaction design and UX in general
2. It's a handy reference for when specific design questions come up and you need to remember what the best practice is for a certain type of interface element.
I'm a UX Designer with several years experience, and I still can't get enough of this book. Cooper knows his stuff (of course; he goes way back with software and he's the head of one of the big UX consultancies) and lays it out simply and logically. If you do any kind of software design, read this and remember it. If you're a designer, keep it on hand.
It's a great overview of a field I'm not particularly familiar with, so I can't comment about the choice of topics. However, what is covered is covered rather effectively. There are wonderful examples throughout to concretize the principles illustrated.
The author has a clear perspective on what good and bad design is, and it was very tastefully done. It doesn't come across as derogatory even when criticizing a particular approach or product. It's always a learning experience to read through an example you're already familiar with.
This book helped me to see design as a sort of science with many useful principles. It won't make me good at design per se, but there was enough practical suggestions that it'll greatly improve the apps I write for fun. And the theory also serves as a good context for the practical advice. They're connected very well, with a good mix of each.
This book didn't really change that.
What it did do, however, is get me to start recognizing the things that make a bad UI/UX to the point where I could, and this is important, properly quantify what was wrong. I could explain the details I was looking at in relevant terms instead of having to rely on things like "feels wrong" or "just isn't right."
If you're a bit of an interface dummy like me... yea, pick it up and you won't be sorry.
Great For A Few
The content in this book is exhaustive: ranging from the high level philosophy and motivations for creating the Goal Directed Design method, all the way down to specific examples of implementations. This makes the book perfect for two people:
1. If you want to learn everything about the Cooper design methodology and don't mind investing a lot of time reading about it.
2. Fans of the methodology who want a reference source.
OK For Some
As many others have commented, this book does come across as 'preachy' and 'a scholar trying to impress... with verbose language, rather than concise factual explanation'. Because of this, it's hard to keep focused on any solid content that is in there. The book and it's it's processes are old and mostly outdated; however, if you're a design novice or have trouble 'getting it', this book can lay down some good foundations.
Poor For Most
This book is cumbersome, hard to read and will lose all but the most dedicated readers. This is ironic since the book focuses so much on creating 'user friendly' and 'human' products. Also, the content is specific to the Cooper Design Process & philosophy and it's not a general design book. Goal Directed Design is a tool, and just like any tool, it should be used only when appropriate. Likewise, if you don't agree with the method, which many people don't, then the book will not be very helpful.
Top international reviews
My only observation is that it is focussed more on computer interfaces than web sites. Although its all the same, I think its important to bear in mind as many references focus on product development and not web development which is more fluid in my opinion. As such, a lot of the methodology is better suited to teams that have the time to go to the next level to get userability right before a product launch in comparison to web sites which are oftem more lightweight and flexible.
Definatly recommended for people that dont want a phamphlet on the subject, ie the sort of book designed to be read on a plane trip like many others are.
The book is organised into three distinct parts, each of which has a rather different tone. The first part is an introduction to "personas" and their goals. Much emphasis is placed on detailed research such as interviews with sample users, which is a fine luxury if you have the resources and time! However, even developers working in smaller teams will find the general principles useful.
The second part is concerned with the overall approach that an application should take. It discusses "posture": whether an application should be "full-screen" and sovereign or an infrequently used utility, and how this changes the top-level design.
This second part includes my favourite chapter, "Eliminating Excise", which is really pretty funny - it points out why we find prompts from Word annoying and why Motorola phones are just plain frustrating. However, the advice to fix these frustrations might be a bit over the top unless you have an infinite development budget: I too would love to have multi-level undos that are persistent across application sessions.
The final part covers specific advice on layouts and controls. It brings together more concrete suggestions based on the previous two parts.
It's quite possible that the ideas in this book influenced the design of applications such as Office 2007 and iTunes. Although few developers have the challenge of designing Web sites or applications for the mass market, the advice in this book is worth considering even for corporate applications. Just watch the budget!
Alan Cooper, Reimann and Cronin give you the best immersion of this area I have read in years. Although Usability is an area which is not really covered by Interaction Design the work is so thorough that you will know in which stages of digital projects you will be able to include the Usability workflow.
My only criticism would be that the Cooper Method is presented as a fairly strongly "waterfall-ish" process. However, anyone who understands agile processes (e.g., Scrum) will be able to adapt it quite easily -- its user focus and iterative approach are made for agile processes. I am looking forward to applying Cooper's method in the next phase of my current project.
but I personally feel the use of Users' Mental Models could have been explained in even greater depth,