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Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guide to User Requirements Methods, Tools, and Techniques (Interactive Technologies) 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1558609358
ISBN-10: 1558609350
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Editorial Reviews


“I wish I’d had this book ten years ago; it would have saved me an awful lot of time. It’s the kind of eminently practical guide that I really appreciate, and the case studies are excellent. I highly recommend it!”
― Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

“Courage and Baxter propel the reader to the beating heart of user-centered design with this comprehensive and practical compendium of process, methodology and cutting-edge thinking. The techniques they explain so clearly in this detailed and thorough book provide the power to expose the common myth, opinion, and misunderstanding and reveal the authentic nature of the true engine of wealth in the information age: Your users; the people who use your digital systems.”
― Alan Cooper, Founder & Chairman of the Board, Cooper

“Here’s a book that could easily become your best friend, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned professional.

Courage and Baxter cover it all, from hard science to ethics to the finest practical details. You’ll find a wealth of case studies and instantly accessible answers to sudden questions―“My test subject just refused to be video taped. What do I do?”--along with many valuable techniques that will be new even to seasoned interaction designers and usability professionals, techniques that I began applying immediately in my own work.”
― Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini, Principal, Nielsen/Norman Group

“Effectively gathering and applying user requirements is one of the most critical areas of focus in today’s companies. This invaluable resource provides comprehensive and practical guidance on a variety of methods – including strategies, tactics, tips, and templates--enabling readers to more efficiently apply techniques in their own organizations.”
― Janice Rohn, Vice President, User Experience, World Savings Bank

“Modestly presented as a ‘how to’ book, this work is much more. It helps to consolidate the new field of interaction design by focusing on a common sense approach to user research. This is an immensely practical book with enduring value for the interaction designer and the usability professional. With detailed discussions of seven key methods of study, clear examples, well-chosen supporting case studies, and an assessment of the proper use of each method, Courage and Baxter have provided an intelligent pathway for those new to the field and a reference work for experienced professionals. The added benefit--in effect, illustrating the very philosophy of user-centered design that they advance--is the way the authors have placed usability study in a wider context of what comes before and after one studies users. This is a thoroughly accessible and usable book. It may well become a classic of the field.”
― Richard Buchanan, Ph.D., Professor, Carnegie Mellon University and President, Design Research Society

“In Understanding Users, Catherine and Kathy give usability practitioners a thorough and practical handbook for conducting user research. They provide details necessary for planning, preparing, conducting, analyzing, and presenting the research for a variety of techniques. Their insights and advice on what to do when something unexpected occurs will be particularly invaluable for those just starting out their careers in user research or those interested in trying out an unfamiliar user research technique.

Peppered with checklists, case studies, and practical advice offered in this book, you will immediately increase your ability to conduct user research that yields quality and reliable results.”
― Pawan Vora, Principal, Inov Information Designs

“A beautifully color-coded and thoroughly applied book.”
― Ann Light, Editor, UsabilityNews.com

Understanding Your Users enables you to reap form the authors’ years of real-world experience as usability experts. Whether you are new to usability or are an experienced usability professional, you will find immense benefits from the book.”
― Mary C. Corder, Technical Communication, November 2005

While the authors come from high tech companies-Oracle and eBay--their understanding of user research and interaction design clearly extends beyound software and human-computer interaction (HCI). This is not a book about software development or computer and internet applications. The methods presented in the book are relevant to all areas of Interaction design, including such areas as service design and the design of complex information systems in any medium. Graphic designers and industrial designers will also find this a valuable book.-Richard Buchanan, Design Issues, January 2007

Book Description

The most complete and comprehensive book to date on the subject.

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Product Details

  • Series: Interactive Technologies
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 1 edition (January 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558609350
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558609358
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By E. Goldberg on February 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is, in my opinion, one of the best books on usability ever written.

I originally read it when I had the opportunity to interview for an internship with one of the authors. Although the internship didn't materialize, I still feel that I have spent many late nights in focus groups and requirements gathering sessions with the authors, through the comprehensive and crisp detail of this book.

My big gripe about many usability books is that they often consist of overgeneralized research-based claims presented as broad truths rather than the personal opinions that they are (e.g. Nielsen). Other usability books don't even attempt to ground their knowledge claims in scientific or other substantive scholarship (e.g. Kuniavsky).

Baxter and Courage avoid both of these perils. What makes this book most valuable to me is that it's grounded not only in sound theory and research, but also in the extensive experience of the authors -- and the authors present a wealth of background to enable you to independently assess the rigor of their arguments. You don't have to turn off your brain and take their word for it.

I have relied on this book in my later work as a usability researcher, and have always recommended it to our consulting clients interested in better understanding how qualitative user research works. It's also a worthwhile introduction to give insight into what we do as researchers -- it's accessible without being oversimplified, and intellectually rigorous without being off-putting.

Finally, the visual communication used throughout the book is exemplary, making the book easy on the eyes and especially scannable -- a big help in those late nights preparing for a usability session.
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Format: Paperback
Courage and Baxter did an amazing job writing this book, thank you! I really liked the fact that this book is based on years of realworld experiences from commerial high technology company.

They have very good examples from real projects - which is a plus. Like the book said, it's very practical! You can use it out of the box from day 1. As a product design professional with years of experience in this field, book confirmed some of the techniques and approaches that I have been using (but I couldn't share it due to commerical reasons). It also covered topics that I wasn't very familiar with. I especially enjoyed reading the section on group task analysis.

Book is organized very well, high quality paper, with great visual examples and photos!

I would also highly recommend this book for product managers, so hopefully they can write better requirements and specifications.
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Format: Paperback
Baxter and Courage provide a rich, accessible toolbox of diverse yet interrelated usability methods that will enable a designer (UI, UE, IA, etc.) to understand user goals, values, and purposes. As a design professional without a human factors background I find this incredibly useful at the office! A handy reference guide with case studies and sample projects, there is also an undercurrent of strategic thought in terms of how to approach and intepret usability methods, thus complementing the designer's iterative art. This book should also benefit design students and educators, who may be seeking a robust compilation of methods that speaks to the "real world" of adroitly performing usability to advance a design's evolution.
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