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Skip Intro: Flash Usability and Interface Design Paperback – Bargain Price, April 11, 2002
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From the Publisher
At New Riders, we've made web usability and the promotion of good thinking in design a priority in our publishing plan, and for good reason: we're all better off if the technologies we use are easier to use (see also famous quote supposedly uttered by one A.Einstein "Everything should be as simple as possible but not simplistic"). Jakob Nielsen's books (Designing Web Usability and Homepage Usability), Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Steve Krug), Back to the User: Creating User-Focused Web Sites (Tammy Sachs and Gary McClain), Designing from Both Sides of the Screen (Ellen Isaacs and Alan Walendowski), Hot Text: Web Writing that Works (Jonathan Price and Lisa Price), Web ReDesign: Workflow that Works (Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler), Design for Community (Derek Powazek), The Art & Science of Web Design (Jeffrey Veen), are among the leading titles, written by the leading voices, in their specific areas. And we needed to do the same targeted publishing with regard to Flash.
That's why our heads turned when Duncan McAlester approached us about a book no one else was talking about but that we all knew had to be done. Flash. Usability. Somebody who knows about these things needs to put pen to paper. Even the most ardent opponent of Jakob Nielsen will likely admit--albeit privately--that a lot of what Jakob says is true ("It's just *how* he says it that I don't like..."). Duncan and his co-author, Michelangelo Capraro, have been thinking about, doing, and teaching the combination of Flash design, interface design, and usability since well before the rest of us. They love what you can do with Flash and they realize a lot of what is called bad Flash design is simply a matter of understanding purpose and user, then working through tangible design steps to get them what they need with nothing that takes away from what they need.
I also like that they came to a publisher with this idea, and not the other way around. That's the best way to do a book like this. I knew we'd made a great partnership when I first met Duncan and Michelangelo (their wit, passion and intelligence stays with you days after you've last met with them). I knew we'd made a great book when *Alan Cooper reviewed it and said "Capraro and McAlester GET IT! They identify Flash for what it is: a powerful tool, but not a replacement for good design focused on users and their goals. While their detailed techniques and code samples will help you harness Flash's power and complexity, their insights will give you an important new perspective: Your Flash expertise is for creating a better user experience, not for creating the next blinking widget monstrosity." *(Alan is one of the people who've helped define the field of software design and user-interface design. Read his books.) Is Flash 99% bad (see famous quote supposedly uttered by one J.Nielsen)? In the wrong hands, it could be. Even the best Flash designer can point out any painful slew of examples of terrible Flash design, and that's not counting the aesthetically-impaired sites. But Flash is here, it is being used everywhere, and it's up to you to use it appropriately. You owe it to the people coming to your site. Thanks for listening, and let us know how the book works for you. Steve Weiss, executive editor, email@example.com. April, 2002. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Are you a Flash user constantly fighting the usability war?
Skip Intro is designed to help educate the Flash community specifically and designers/programmers at large that usability isn't a dirty word. It doesn't mean making boring pedestrian web sites, and it doesn't mean abandoning Flash. Quite the contrary, Flash offers advanced usability elements that traditional HTML websites could never hope to achieve. This book will show designers how to start thinking about their users and, more importantly, how to translate that understanding when they start designing or coding.
Skip Intro moves beyond traditional usability books by shying away from listing examples of "why this is wrong" or "why this is right." Instead, it guides designers through understanding the site requirements and their intended users and then starts them down the road of developing for those users, by taking them step-by-step through design scenerios, rather than providing strict rules of usability. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Michelangelo Capraro and Duncan McAlester
PUBLISHER: New Riders
REVIEWED BY: Barbara Rhoades
BOOK REVIEW: User-friendly Flash projects! Isn't that the ultimate goal for any web designer? Skip Intro" is the book that will help a web designer do just that. The authors uphold the KISS theory (keep it simply stupid) and ask that you know your clients, market, users and goals of the site.
Each Chapter begins with a quote from a person (real or animated!) or proverb to get you into the feel of what the chapter will teach. Hierarch, tool tips, tabbed windows, flexibility and finally less clutter and more usability are all discussed in this 14-chapter book.
It comes with a CD, lots of reading and some graphics displays to explain what they are talking about. The writing is clear and definitions are included in the chapters to make sure you know the technical terms they are discussing. There are also side notes from the authors to help clarify the discussions.
Is Flash what you need to brush up on or pick up an extra pointer or two? Then add "Skip Intro" to your library.
Web Designers are divided when it comes to Flash...some see it as a proprietary tool that diminishes website accesibility and encourages splash over substance. Others see it as a welcome extension to a medium built for information that is woefully lacking in graphic capabilities.
This book gently introduces the two camps, demonstrating how the graphic and interactive firepower of Flash can be weilded with an eye toward usability...it offers techniques and demonstrations, simultaniously instructing the user how to use Flash as a tool while introducing basic fundamentals of user-centered design. It's a great book for new Flash designers looking for some intermediate how-to, as well as a contextual reference for experienced Flash designers who want to make better design decisions.
Correctly used, Macromedia Flash is the most powerful authoring tool for efficient and effective web design. Skip Into comprehensively covers the philosophy of effective design (the why) and the specific graphic and scripting required to implement (the how).
Expect a well-worn copy of Skip Intro at the desk of leading web designers, and take note fellow educators--this is a must read and know for our graphic design majors.
A great plus - developers will create reusable tools that will simplify your life and improve your users' navigation experience.
As someone who employs interactive designers I found this book very useful in helping me select and work with designers and agencies who will produce workable and functioning sites that look great and provide the right experience for the user without alienating them.