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Customer Review

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not 'New Directions' but valuable; annoying in places, September 5, 2000
This review is from: The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems (Paperback)
This book doesn't really contain "New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems" like it says on the cover. In fact, Jef's directions for designing interactive systems mostly revolve around his designs for the Canon Cat, which date from 1984-1987. Different, and a departure from what's become the norm (the WIMP, or Windows Icons Menus Pointers graphical user interface), but not new.
Readers may be annoyed by Jef's continued insistence throughout the book that the Cat contained such wonderfully efficient interface ideas, but there are some solid ideas presented. Highlights of this book include Raskin's introduction and description of Locus of Attention (approximately: involuntary focus), which may be as important for designers to consider as users' conscious focus. The concept of 'monotony' in interfaces is also interesting to consider as Raskin describes it, because he asserts this is a path that allows users to form efficient automaticity and focus on tasks rather than the interface. Also, chapter 4 includes an overview of GOMS analysis that does a good job of bringing it out of the academic esoteric realm into a place where more interaction designers will consider using it for commercial projects. Raskin's heuristics for good interaction design are spread throughout the book (would have been nicer if they were all corralled into one place for reference), but Appendix B comes close to summarizing them -- it is a document from Alzofon and Raskin's 1985 SwyftCard design.
Low points of the book include Raskin's annoying, overly specific notation for keystrokes that he uses throughout, the lecturing tone, the tedium of chapter five, and the goofy quantitative modality measure he proposes in chapter three.
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