- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 21, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471162671
- ISBN-13: 978-0471162674
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,759,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Elements of User Interface Design 1st Edition
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A total introduction to user interface (UI) design, Elements of User Interface Design covers theory and application with easy language and real world examples. Author Theo Mandel achieves an effective blend of theoretical consideration and practical utilization without leaving the less experienced user by the wayside. At the same time, even the most hardened applications developer will find abundant value in the discussions of user psychology and the analyses of popular UIs of the past and present.
Chapter topics include UI models, computer standards and UI guidelines, usability testing, command-line and menu driven interfaces, and graphical user interfaces (GUIs). The book also discusses intelligent agents and Internet interfaces at length. Each chapter contains examples from some of the most popular applications and operating systems complete with analysis and historical background.
The book itself has a fairly friendly UI; Mandel's writing is conversational and easy to follow, even when discussing complex topics. Throughout each chapter, "Key Ideas," such as tool tips, are broken out for clarification and quick reference on the current topic. Quotes at the beginning of each group of chapters are both topical and entertaining.
From the Publisher
With a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, author Theo Mandel knows how people act and interact with user interfaces. With this book, he covers the basics of effective user interface design and demonstrates different techniques. Divided into three parts, the book first teaches readers the foundations and fundamentals, then shows them how to use those basics to create interfaces, and finally discusses advanced topics and emerging technologies like object oriented user interfaces (OOUIs), voice activation, and Wizards. Mandel also covers different techniques with popular products like Windows NT, Windows 95, OS/2, and Visual Basic.
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Top Customer Reviews
There is an interesting section on memory and the way people learn, which are important considerations for designing UIs, so it's not a complete loss, but when the book actually got down to putting something together, it doesn't really have much you can look to for guidance. The iceberg analogies and the perspective models weren't very helpful either.
At the start of every chapter, the author cites numerous quotes from people no one has ever heard of and doesn't give any context as to why we should listen to them.
The most ironic aspect, however, is that the book, at times, is poorly structured. The sections don't seem to have any logical ordering to them making whole portions sound like a rambling of loosely connected topics, and of the text will cite a table or figure and then display it in a completely different section or even two pages down the line from where it was cited, making the examples seemingly irrelevant to the text.
All-in-all, this is one you can easily avoid.
What will it do? At best, it will open your mind to the field of human interface design, if you don't know it already. But there are no revelations and no surprises here.
If you have no previous knowledge of user interface design and/or have little knack for such things, Elements will break you in easily and comprehensively to the concepts. But with a little experience or common sense, you could gleam as much from a good twenty page tract as from this verbose tome. Skim it in an hour, or use it to feel vaguely productive during a lazy day at work, while you stare out the window. But don't count on much in the way of concrete benefits.
Usability Professionals' Association Newsletter,
Book Review--Mandel, Theo (1997),
"The Elements of User Interface Design",
New York: John Wiley & Sons,
Reviewed by Pawan R. Vora, U S WEST Communications,
Check your personal library. If you are interested in or design user interfaces, it is very likely that you have several books addressing one or more of the following topics:
* Basic research on human-computer interaction (HCI)
* User interface design foundations and principles
* User interface design methodologies (e.g., usability engineering, object oriented design methodology)
* Design guidelines for the elements of the user interface (e.g., menus, help)
* Platform-specific user interface design style guides (e.g., Macintosh, Windows, OSF/Motif)
* Web-based user interface design
* User interface evaluation (e.g., usability testing)
However, you may not have a book that acts as a single source regarding ALL these topics. If you decide you need this type of resource, consider "The Elements of User Interface Design" by Theo Mandel. It will serve you well as a practical guide to interface design. It serves, also, as a good reference to use in your efforts to dispel the myth that user interface design is nothing but making the screens "look pretty."
You need not have an extensive background in user interface design to understand the concepts covered in this book. Managers in technical organizations, software project leads and developers, technical writers, educators and students can use this book as a means for gaining background and insight into the subject of user interface design - sans the technicalities involved with implementing design. It is written in non-intimidating, conversational style with material presented in an easily comprehended manner. Of further benefit to the reader, are the Key Ideas! used to highlight important concepts and practical tips.
This book is divided into four major parts:
Part I: Foundations of User Interface Design (chapters 1 to 9)
Part II: Object-Oriented User Interfaces (chapters 10 and 11)
Part III: The User Interface Design Process (chapter 12)
Part IV: Advanced User Interface Techniques And Technologies (chapters 13 to 16)
Part I uses ACM/interactions Design Awards 95 (ACM interactions, May-June, 1996) as a starting point for discussing quality in product design. The discussion subsequently turns to defining practical product design criteria and developing a working definition of user interface. Interface design principles are substantiated by using screenshots and real-life case studies. It concludes with a well-illustrated evolution of user interfaces from command-line and menu-driven interfaces to graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Interface guidelines and usability testing are detailed as integral parts of the design process. A range of usability testing techniques for evaluating user interfaces are described.
Part II describes object-oriented user interfaces (OOUIs) and how they fit better with the tasks users perform and the objects they use in work. It draws upon the author's extensive experience in object-oriented user interface design, as relayed in his earlier work: "The GUI-OOUI War: The Designer's Guide to Human-Computer Interfaces," John Wiley & Sons, 1994.
Part III describes a four-phase, iterative design process for developing object-oriented user interfaces, using a case study of an online hotel reservation system to illustrate points of the process. Process descriptions include explanations of user and task analyses, prototyping, iterative usability testing, and final design. In particular, the author walks the reader through an object-oriented user interface design process for a hypothetical application of "The Mandel Manor Hotels."
In my mind, Part II and Part III are the biggest plusses in this book. These two sections offer the reader clear and concise descriptions of object-oriented interface design principles and techniques. They also make clear the distinction between GUIs and OOUIs. Barring a few steps, the user interface design process described could be applied to any UI-based software development project but is particularly useful for object-oriented UI development projects.
Part IV covers more recent interface design issues, such as social interfaces, intelligent agents, wizards, multimedia, Web-based interface design. One section that is a "must read" for those familiar with user interface design is Chapter 14, "Electronic Performance System (EPS)." Though the author does not go into great detail on the subject, he does point out that new interfaces need to be user-involved and learner-centered rather than simply user-centered. He does, however, offer a good set of references for the reader to explore more detailed information on this and the other advanced topics.
There are a few things in this book that surprised me:
First, most of the examples are from Windows 95 and OS/2 platforms; there are no examples of Apple Macintosh-based products. This is not that surprising considering the author's extensive experience on Intel-based machines. Though the user interface design principles and guidelines generally remain the same for all platforms, it could be disconcerting to those designing for the Macintosh.
Second, there is a limited coverage of accessibility issues (the user interface design issues for populations with special needs). Accessibility issues are covered, though not necessarily in detail, in many design style guides. Considering the nature of the book, a separate chapter on designing accessible user interfaces would have been useful.
Third, though the author emphasizes the need for "visually appealing interfaces" throughout the book, he has not included "visual attractiveness" in his list of basic principles:
1. Place users in control of the interface
2. Reduce users' memory load
3. Make the user interface consistent
In my opinion, one more principle should be added to this list, " 4. Make user interface visually appealing and attractive."
Finally, there are several instances where the author uses a quote but fails to identify its source. For many professionals, the resource listing is often as important as the quote.
To summarize, if you are:
* interested in the area of user interface design but do not have any formal training;
* familiar with the concepts of user interface design but want to familiarize yourself with object-oriented user interface (OOUI) design; or,
* wanting an introduction to new interface design concepts about multimedia, social interfaces, EPSS (Electronic Performance Support Sytems), or Web-based designs,
this book will provide you a good foundation. It will also acquaint you with information about cognitive psychology and its use in development of general design principles and guidelines.
In addition, the structure of the book (with its section-by-section "road maps") lends itself to being used as a textbook for an undergraduate level course on HCI or as a supplemental reading at the graduate level. If the curriculum's focus is not in Human-Computer Interaction, this book may be used as a "gentle" introduction to the field of user interface design.
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