- Series: Interactive Technologies
- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 1 edition (March 31, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1558605827
- ISBN-13: 978-1558605824
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,899,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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GUI Bloopers: Don'ts and Do's for Software Developers and Web Designers (Interactive Technologies) 1st Edition
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In GUI Bloopers, consultant Jeff Johnson uses 550+ pages to illustrate common pitfalls in user interface design, the all-important iceberg tip that end users confuse with applications and that developers confuse with end users. Reporting on 82 incidents of bad design, Johnson manages to cover the essential point of his message: software designers should think of their user interfaces from the user's point of view. Not profound, but profoundly overlooked in most low-end to mid-range development efforts. His codification of GUI design in eight predictable principles will help GUI newbies realize that the customer must be pleased with the product. Of course, the customer doesn't always understand what he or she wants. Hence, GUI development is iterative. When the customer is not at hand, a surrogate will do, so usability testing is essential.
The bloopers include mistakes in window design, labeling consistency, visual/grammatical parallel construction, coherence of look and feel, and clarity. Most perceptively, Johnson observes that CPU speed in the development group hides many design mistakes. Moreover, context-scoping, already a subtle problem in software design, must be implemented in GUI design. Input error handling is the most psychologically sensitive of all GUI design characteristics. User error messages can easily be too vague or too specific, and diagnostic error messages should be user-manageable, if not actually user-interpretable.
Like the Hollywood outtakes that gave us the "blooper," the entertainment quotient here is measured in mistakes, not successes. Teaching by counter example rather than by example at an estimated ratio of three to one, Johnson panders to our invertebrate instinct to measure our own successes by someone else's failure. To his credit, he recognizes that user interfaces include pedestrian texts (like his) as well as graphical interfaces for computer applications. His self-referential style gives the book an egocentric slant, but he is both priest and practitioner: he submitted a draft to usability testers and reports the results in an appendix. One criticism was that there were too many negative examples. Hmmm.
Thanks to other tester comments, GUI Bloopers is a browsable book, allowing the few nuggets of wisdom to be located. For the most part, the book's value can be captured by reading the seven-page table of contents carefully. --Peter Leopold
From Library Journal
GUI stands for graphical user interface. Bloopers are incredibly dumb designs created over the past ten years such as error messages, unreadable fonts, hidden functionality, installation nightmares, back buttons that don't go back, and untimely feedback. Highlighting those and other (82 total) examples of bad design, Johnson, president and primary consultant at UI a Wizards Inc., believes software designers should design from the user's point of view. Readers will find his chapter on good design principles useful; recommended for university and large public libraries.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The details cover a broad range of topics relevent to almost any computing professional. Web programmers will enjoy the _extensive_ discussion of the proper use of form elements. Web designers will welcome the section on the proper use of text vs graphics. Traditional applications programmers will like the section on performance and responsiveness.
Given the very specific nature of the advice, GUI Bloopers doesn't help much with overall, high-level user interface design. For advice of that nature, check out Jef Raskin's "The Humane Interface." What Bloopers DOES provide are some additional details to think about when implementing your UI. It also has good advice on development methodology, including the importance of early and frequent user testing.
And this book definetly needed to be written; I identified _MANY_ of the bloopers in my current (fortunately unfinished) application. It also finally convinced me to include user testing in my development process, after several other UI books failed to persuade me of its importance.
My only problems with the book are really more the editor's fault than the author's. Firstly, GUI Bloopers can be overly wordy. For example, Johnson spends 6 pages struggling to get across the idea that extremely small font sizes are bad. Some good editing could probably have reduced the page count by 15%-25%. Also, none of the illustrations have captions explaining what they represent (only numbers), forcing readers to scan the text for references to "figure #21". A decent editor would have pointed this out.
However, harvesting the advice in GUI Bloopers is worth a little rubbernecking. Unless you happen to be a usability guru or quasi-genius, reading GUI Bloopers will definetly improve the usability of your applications.
I was at the session at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Holland where Jeff Johnson spoke. But another Jeff, Jeff Raskin also spoke and showed how some of Johnson's examples could be improved.
Raskin also introduced a book, The Humane Interface, somewhat deeper than this one, that helps you to really understand Web design. I'd reccomend reading and understanding Raskin's book so that you can see the few places where Johnson's ideas don't quite work. Then you can use this book, which is 95% right.
This book is by a pro whose career has been spent in designing interfaces and correcting the errors others make. He knows what he's doing, and we'd all be a lot better off taking his advice.
If you are designing information-based products that interact with people, you should first understand every point GUI Bloopers makes. This is a how-to, with lots of good examples, clearly explained. It is neither a work of psychology nor does it delve deeply into reasons why things work or don't. Read GUI Bloopers along with Norman's delightful book, The Design of Everyday Things (for motivation) and Raskin's thoughtful and thought-provoking The Humane Interface (for future directions).
This book made it instantly into the short list of my top recommended books for people who design interfaces. Get it, read it, follow it. Your customers will thank you.
I am very disappointed by the poor design of the book. In particular, I completely agree with another reviewer that this book _itself_ is a GUI Blooper: there is practically no caption to all illustrations except "Figure X.Y" with a thumb-up or thumb-down icon to indicate whether the example UI is good or bad. True, the illustrations are all referenced in the rather _dense_ text; but if you look at the illustrations, it is not very instructive as they require you to read the text carefully to know why something is good or bad. (Did I say the text dense?) The author should have added a couple sentences to the captions to summerize his idea.
As for UI design books for programmers, I recommend reading User Interface Design for Programmers by Joel Spolsky first. Then read this one when you have extra time.
Most recent customer reviews
The first chapter or so describes some very basic GUI problems - eg.Read more