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User Interface Design for Programmers Paperback – June 25, 2001
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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
Top Customer Reviews
In this book, much of which is available at his site, he's taking an approach that I don't think anyone else has: why UI design matters to programmers. He's not talking to experienced visual desingers, or HCI people, or interaction desingers or what have you. He's talking to programmers, the folks who will actually write lines of code. This book, in a quick 150 pages, shows programmers why interaction designers will spend, say, two days worrying about a couple of words or the placement of two buttons.
Like Steve Krug's book "Don't Make Me Think", it's a somewhat lightweight treatment of the topic for an experienced UI desinger, but you'd be foolish to pass it up for that reason. This, along with Krug would be a great book for Project Managers or senior staff wondering what all the fuss about "usability" really means. Where Jakob Nielsen's preachy fussiness can bore you to tears, Joel and Krug will make you eager to put their ideas into practice.
Any company that can get its programmers, managers, and designers on the same page about the still under-appreciated value of UI design (and the analysis that goes into it) will find they can make better products faster.
Critical design issues such as color combinations, UI standards, and best controls for particular jobs were not covered. The author glossed over these by telling the reader to find out what metaphor the user expects and design the application in that context. Despite these failings, the book is well written and can be read rapidly.
This book rates about two stars for content and four for readability. Overall, this book rates approximately three stars.
Joel's irreverent, tell-it-like-it-is, approach is part of the charm of this book. For example, chapter 10 is titled, "People Can't Control the Mouse" and chapter 13 is titled, "Those Pesky Usability Tests". From my years of software development in the games industry, many of his points on UI design hit home in a big way. I was actually shocked at how applicable the entire book was to game development. As a professional programmer, I felt the book was talking my language and completely in agreement with my own experiences.
The truth is that there are so many boring and questionable technical books out there, it's refreshing to read something that is so honest and dead-on right.
I've been a full time developer for just over 5 years. Making technology work is my game, but when it comes to designing UIs, it's more like random dart throwing and voodoo. But, considering some of the stuff I've seen other people put out. . . my stuff is not too bad! Still, I like doing a professional job and users expect programmers like us to know UI design-in spite of the fact most of us can't even draw decent stick figures!
The best thing about this book is Joel speaks my language. He makes art comprehensible to the techny. Not an easy accomplishment, but Joel is no ordinary guy either. He runs his own ISV in New York City and hosts one of the most popular software development blog sites around. (joelonsoftware.com) To survive financially in a place like NYC says something of his abilities. This book like his other writings bear that out: great concepts, great illustrations and well packaged thought.
One note, this book is about principles of design. It is not a quick how-to book. If you need some templates for a GUI project you are starting tomorrow, or need to know the ins/outs of a particular OS graphical system, this book isn't for you. But, if like me you've struggled with every new UI and are searching for guiding principles, this book is great!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I haven't even read the book and already I hate the authors 'holier than thou' attitude towards designers. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. Blanchard
This book could be summed up with a single 8x11 piece of paper.
Includes some general Apple-lauding, PC-bashing stereotypes. Read more
Here is the most important thing to know about this book - it wasn't written by Joel Spolsky that many know and respect. Read morePublished on July 14, 2012 by Amazon Customer
The book started out promising -- it talked about things like "user models" and "progamming models"; But somewhere along the way the author veered away from things that sounded... Read morePublished on January 18, 2009 by Aaron Hill
Users can't read dialog boxes, they can't use the mouse, the don't read instructions, they have an idea of how the program is supposed to work, and most of the time they can't be... Read morePublished on May 21, 2008 by DavidInBerkeley
First off, I'm not a (professional) programmer, and I'm not particularly interested in user interface design. Read morePublished on April 27, 2008 by P. Newman
I rarely give out 5 stars, but this book deserves it.
Well written, on the light side, but serious about providing best practices for UI design with good examples to... Read more
This thin book is a good introduction to the idea of that you should make good software interfaces, but doesn't tell you how to do that. Read morePublished on September 8, 2006 by brian d foy