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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$45.60+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on December 12, 2011
"Designed for Use" is an excellent book. Mathis' voice is very conversational, approachable and readable, but it still remains professional and informative. I was impressed with how well researched this book was, and how it was full of concrete examples that supported the larger abstract concepts. Some of his more obscure references gave me a chuckle. This is exactly how more design books should be written, instead of the vapid texts with no supporting examples or evidence. I found the chapter on what UX designers can learn from games to be a particularly thought provoking exploration and it inspired more than a few new ideas.

The biggest downside is the lack of color. In my opinion, books about design really should be printed in color. I know Pragmatic Programmers are a small publisher with limited runs, but I don't mind paying extra to cover the additional printing costs. I would like to have seen more analysis of existing designs as well, pointing out the UX errors. Perhaps in a future edition Mathis could take a wireframe of a hypothetical app (or two) that a novice designer might have made, and then walked through the iterative process of improving it. I think this would work well as an appendix perhaps. The book would have benefited from more detail and examples on designing custom controls; perhaps we could have seen a dozen or more examples of custom buttons or other UX widgets and Mathis could have deconstructed why they are good/bad. I also found some of the UX testing to be a bit repetitious and felt that some of the chapters on testing could have been merged. The book is still 5/5 and a great value as is.
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on September 21, 2014
Very useful
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on February 19, 2013
my son is using this book in class, it has been helpful how much more could you expect me to write about a book. may not review anymore
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on November 6, 2011
Perhaps more challenging than the code required for program development is the user interface. The code may be bug free, but if the user can't understand the interface quickly, the program is unlikely to be successful.

This book is a very practical introduction to user interface design. The author is a professional interface designer for a software company; his approach to interface design is very organized and methodical. Some of the issues covered in the book include:

I. Research (we do this before we code the interface, right?)
Developing the interface for the person
Focusing on the activity required
Documentation (the real bugaboo of most programs, including the best sellers that generate billions of dollars for their owners)
Appropriate use of text
Using a card sort to understand user thinking
Grokking what users think

II. Design
Sketching/prototyping the interface
Using paper prototypes
Replicating symbols from the real world (realism)
Tricks of button development (Fitts' Law)
Animations - when do they help, and when do they handicap
Consistency - do your users understand a new form because it acts like one they've seen before
Discoverability - What can users find without using the manual or help
Don't Interrupt - don't get in the way of users work flow
Appropriate use of preferences
Avoiding Features (you can have too many features)
What do video games have to teach?

and finally

III. Implementation

Various modes of testing, dealing with user feedback, unexpected uses, measuring failure

The book is well written, and a valuable resource for those who are involved in designing GUIs that they wish to be Natural User Interfaces. Even if you've already designed what you think is the ultimate user interface, going through the evaluations suggested in the book may show you ways that you may improve your interface. There is a 12 page index. The writing is conversational and clear. There is a web page devoted to the links in the book as well as any discovered errata. Recommended.
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on July 2, 2011
This book gives a broad overview of many topics in usability. Some, such as paper prototyping and Fitts's law, I was familiar with. Others like card sorting were new to me. Because of the breadth of topics, Lukas never goes into great depth on anything. He does provide lots of references on where to get more information, so this lack of depth is not necessarily a negative. The breadth of topics does give the book a bit of a disjointed feel. Everything he talks about is interesting, but it didn't always flow very well.

He has an example of a business Twitter application. However, I didn't think he fleshed out the example all that much. It could have been a common theme that tied the sections of the book together in a more seamless way.

If you're a designer or programmer who has never been exposed to any of these topics, then you should read it. It will give you a good start on an important topic.

It is a pretty quick read, as I read it over two evenings. It was time well spent for me, and probably for you.
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on June 28, 2011
The range of methods and tips Lukas Mathis offers in his book are truly high level. They reach from design to testing and all the way to gathering valuable user data. Each chapter will improve the creation of any kind of digital user interface in any state of the process.

No matter whether your project is a website, a digital interface for a communication device, or some kind of CRM-Software, to name just a few - and no matter if you are a designer or a programming pro - you will take big profit from «Designed for Use».

I do not come from the technology side (I'm a graphic designer) and still I read the book in one go. Not all the chapters did have the same level of relevance for my work, but the cleverness contained within definitely helped me to increase my overall awareness towards user experience.

Not to read this book also means to ignore a lot of insights Lukas collected over the years by writing for his expert blog.

Go ahead, do yourself a favor and improve your usability skills by a mile or two.
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on September 24, 2012
I can't express how much I love this book. I'm a graphic designer with some experience in UI; but being a bit of an island, I've only gleaned what I know about usability through my own personal experiences. This book lays out so many of the pivotal details that I've been missing; from broad questions such as "What does GOOD usability mean?" to detailed advice, like "How big should I make this button?" Information like this is what gives me the confidence I need to present my designs and stand by them.
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on October 8, 2011
This book was a phenomenal introduction to design and usability concepts. Lukas takes you from just starting out all the way through running usability tests and how to best cull information from them. Not only does this book balance breadth of coverage and nuanced details extremely well, Lukas links to a plethora of external resources you can use to continue learning. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in design / user experience.
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