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Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596008031
ISBN-10: 0596008031
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a definitely good book to study before you set out to design some new application or website and maybe an inspiration to revisit existing material." - John Collins, news@UK, September 2006

About the Author

For more than a decade, Jenifer Tidwell has been designing and building user interfaces for a variety of industry verticals, often in the Java programming language. She has experience in designing both desktop and Web applications. As a user interface designer at The MathWorks, Jenifer was instrumental in a redesign of the charting and visualization UI of MATLAB, which is used by researchers, students, and engineers worldwide to develop cars, planes, proteins, and theories about the universe.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (December 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596008031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596008031
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.6 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By calvinnme HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is different from most books on designing user interfaces since the ideas are presented as design patterns, much as you would see in Gamma's classic book on the subject had it been adapted to human-computer interfacing rather than programming. Each of the patterns and techniques presented in this book are intended to help the reader solve common design problems. Patterns and techniques are presented for web sites, desktop applications, and everything in between such as web forms, Flash, and applets. The user interface design patterns presented in this book are intended to be read by people who have some knowledge of UI design concepts and terminology: dialogs, selection, combo boxes, navigation bars, whitespace, branding, and so on. The book does not identify many widely-accepted techniques such as copy-and-paste, as it is assumed that you probably already know what this is. However, some common techniques are described here to encourage their use in other contexts -- for instance, desktop apps could make better use of Toplevel Navigation -- or to discuss them alongside alternative solutions. If you're running short on ideas, or hung up on a difficult design problem, skimming this book and its design patterns may help you produce a good solution.
Each pattern is presented with an image showing a possible implementation, a "Use When" section, a "Why" section, and a "How" section with very high level tool-independent implementation instructions. The patterns are organized into groups by function - organizing content, getting around, organizing the page, getting input from users, showing complex data, commands and action, direct manipulation, and stylistic elements.
I would highly recommend this logically structured book to anyone from programmer to graphic artist who might be involved in user interface design.
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Format: Paperback
This book is lavishly illustrated and fun to read. The sections are color-coded and there are few pages without at least one full-color illustration. So often, Web app team workers and managers get grey on grey and so often our output reflects that.

There are flow patterns, layout patterns, widget patterns galore. All good, but the chapter that gave me the most food for thought was the last, "Making It Look Good: Visual Style and Aesthetics." A Stanford study indicates that the most important factor in Web site credibility is the appearance of the site. This is probably also true of Web applications, but not in the same way. I have often had to go toe to toe with developers and executive managers who want to jazz things up with a far heavier, "more impressive" graphical treatment. VPs and marketers want something snazzy to show clients -- but they forget that someone who actually has to *use* an application in their workday may not find "snazzy" to be attractive at all.

Reading this chapter gave me more confidence that the choices in typography, color balance, contrast, and whitespace our teams arrived at through much effort have been correct and beneficial ones.
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Format: Paperback
I arrived at "Designing Interfaces" with a hunger for detail and references as we head deep into revising the interface of a whole section of a web site I am in charge of. And the timing couldn't have been better. Jenifer (with one "n") Tidwell is right on the money when it comes to offering a broad range of options to address just about any interface design need you may run into. Her experience working with Matlab's Mathworks didn't limit her to offering advice for client software interface design.

Tidwell goes well beyond it, delving into web design and mobile interface waters, which she swims with equal comfort and efficiency. As a matter of fact, at times the presentation of samples from alternate media/platforms (client software or mobile) pulls those of us who are more comfortable within web application development out of our comfort zone, presenting us with innovative ways to solve old problems.

All in all, this becomes a must reference for anyone needing to learn or polish skills in software interface design for any medium. And this is not limited to designers: I am an Application Development Manager and I learned a lot from "Designing Interfaces" too.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having already read through the first few chapters, today I sat down with an explicit need: to solve a problem that involved searching and filtering a large set of data. This book came through for me. Yes, some of it appears obvious when you first read through, but once you have a specific problem to address, its true utility emerges. I opened to the Showing Complex Data chapter, and as I read through, ideas began to form. Some came directly from the book, others were inspired by or related to what I was reading. I took notes, and those notes helped me develop the questions about the data and the users I need to answer in order to continue.

When you're faced with a design challenge, and you're a bit stymied as to how to proceed, this book will help move the solution forward. Even if you think you have a solution, this book can help you make it fresh and creative.
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Format: Paperback
Let's start with the worst thing about the book - the title. The book is really a book of UI design patterns. You won't learn how to design an interface from reading this book. What you will get is a large collection of useful patterns and principles for applying them. Given my choice, I would have called the book "Interface Design Patterns and Principles."

The best thing about this book is that it hits its target spot-on: the intermediate-level designer. I have shelves full of beginner/introductory books and quite a few specialist books for advanced designers. However, before I got this book I had nothing at all that was good for the middle of that range. Tidwell doesn't waste pages trying to bring a beginner up to the point where she could understand and use these patterns, nor does she try to get into the kinds of esoteric details that would make someone a master. I found reading the book pleasant and informative.

One important metric for me of any O'Reilly book is its reference value. I don't expect them to produce step-by-step texts; rather, I use their books for answering questions, getting guidance, and giving insights. I feel this book does a fabulous job as a useful reference. I've already had several chances to refer back to it and I expect it to keep a prominent place on my reference shelf.

The patterns that Tidwell develops in the book are useful and I'm particularly glad she has included a large number of examples. I might wish for more negative or counter-examples, since it's sometimes easier to learn from mistakes, but I recognize that pointing out design errors can be a tricky business. Likewise, the organization of the patterns into groups is something that just about anyone could quibble about but we'd all agree that some sort of organization is necessary to make this a good reference and not just a laundry list, and the book does that well.
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