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User Interface Design for Programmers Paperback – January 23, 2006
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From the reviews:
"He picks apart commercial products from big companies, showing their UI mistakes. I love that."
Dr. Dobb's Journal
"The author of a popular independent website gives you a book about what programmers need to know about user interface design. Spolsky concentrates especially on the common mistakes that too many programs exhibit. Most programmers dislike user interface programming, but this book makes it easy, straightforward, and fun. It is written with an audience of programmers in mind, but does not assume any prior programming knowledge nor any specific programming language." (Amazon.co.uk, April, 2001)
"This book offers many useful pointers on designing user interfaces which even experienced programmers should need. The 18 chapters cover topics ranging from effective use of colour to metaphors and usability testing. Underlined throughout is the most fundamental principle that ‘a user interface is well designed when the program behaves how the user thought it would’. The style is informal, humorous and anecdotal. There are numerous examples of design at its worst, each with an explanation of why the design is poor." (Richard Avery, The Computer Bulletin, March, 2002)
About the Author
Joel Spolsky is a globally recognized expert on the software development process. His web site Joel on Software (JoelonSoftware.com) is popular with software developers around the world and has been translated into over 30 languages. As the founder of Fog Creek Software in New York City, he created FogBugz, a popular project management system for software teams. Joel has worked at Microsoft, where he designed Visual Basic for Applications as a member of the Excel team, and at Juno Online Services, developing an Internet client used by millions. He has written two books: User Interface Design for Programmers (Apress, 2001) and Joel on Software (Apress, 2004). Joel holds a bachelor's of science degree in computer science from Yale University. Before college, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a paratrooper, and he was one of the founders of Kibbutz Hanaton.
Top customer reviews
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I do feel like there were some good points raised, but only a couple of them in the 18 chapters were really innovative viewpoints. (The rest were things you would expect to hear in any book on UI design).
The book BADLY needs to be updated. It's quite obvious that it was released before Windows XP, since many of the gripes that the author has about Windows were addressed with XP (including the "start button is a few pixels from the corner" issue) -- and the author continuously refers to bandwidth / lag issues on the Internet; which, if you haven't been living under a rock the past 3 years, is pretty much a non-issue anymore as broadband becomes more and more ubiquitous.
The conversational tone of the book was nice, at times, but I felt it deviated from my expectations of the book based on the title. (my "user model" differentiated from the book's "program model" so to speak) There really wasn't anything about the book that involved programming -- very few actual examples were used, and really, I'm not sure that I'm taking home anything that is going to help my UI design at all. It would be like someone telling you ABOUT their experience fishing: ("Make sure you get a decent boat, use a good fishing rod, and bring lots of beer"), rather than telling you about how to fish BETTER: ("When you're baiting your hook, use live bait for ___ fish, and casting distance should vary proportionally with...." [i'm really not much of a fisherman])
In other words, there was a lot of "why" answers but not a lot of "how" answers, and so I felt a bit disappointed.
Steve Krug's book "Don't Make Me Think" is both current AND extremely helpful -- if you are looking for a book on Web Usability, I highly recommend that.
If you're looking for one specifically about HOW to improve the UI of your software... well, let me know if you find one, because I'm still looking too.
It is entertaining, as a period piece - however, if you are not a Spolsky fan (like I am), do not know what Microsoft Bob is or never used VisiCalc, you are not going to enjoy it as much as I have.
The biggest problem of this book is that it is 11 years old. It doesn't make all of its contents irrelevant, but it does make a lot of it out of context and often griping about things that have since then been long gone or fixed in both Mac and Windows worlds. It also turns this book from one of the very few works on usability available in early 2000's to one among many other, stronger books such as Jeff Johnson's works.
Also, you are not getting the original ("IN FULL COLOR") book pictured here. You are getting the black and white print-on-demand, with cover art that I can't call anything but atrocious.
You can lump all of this under the general heading "reduce user effort". But what happens when the set of users and the set of developers overlap? Does "developer software" have its own set of user interface design rules?
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