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Apple Human Interface Guidelines: The Apple Desktop Interface Paperback – November 1, 1987
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Way back in 1987 Apple's Macintosh operating system was the first and last word in windoed, graphical users interfaces for the home. Whilst the rest of the world parted contact with Apple's supposedly juvenile vision of computing 'for the rest of us', the company were laying the groundwork for modern interface design. Hiring not just designers, but psychologists and sociologists, Apple established a ruthlessly consistent design methodology based around clear, universal metaphors. Some would say that the rest of the computing world has been playing catch-up ever since - including, oddly, Apple, as some of the recent efforts (notably the Quicktime 4.0 interface) place style far above content.
The book has very few flaws - the dry tone is an inevitable result of its status as a reference work, and those who despise Apple's design guidelines probably will never, ever read this. You can't really read it all the way through, either - it's best to dip in here and there, reading chapters at will. Despite these negligable points, this book is invaluable for anybody designing a digital human interface, and the section on black-and-white icons is suddenly relevant again in the WAP age. Indeed, everything here is still bang-up-to-date, which tends to suggest either that Apple got it right a long time ago, or that interface design has been paralysed for two decades.