I've been meaning to post some books about design and user experience (UX) that I thought you might be interested in. There are many fine books out there that you can read about UX and many that I have not read myself - feel free to post your own suggestions here. My intent is not to make you a designer, but to provide you with some materials that will make your development projects better, whether you are inclined towards design or you are a developer.
Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug. If you are doing web development, this is probably the single most digestible book about it that you can get to explain "A common sense approach to web usability". The text is clear, the layout is great, the examples clarify, and the advice is practical. What's the most important thing you can do to ensure a site is easy to use? "Don't Make Me Think!" :) Good advice. The only downside is that some of the example companies are no longer in business, but you can look around that.
The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett. This book breaks down the user experience problem into 5 "planes" which are examined more closely. I liked this approach because it also separates out applications which happen to be delivered on the web and a web site itself, something we are thinking about with Sametime Unyte. (By the way, you can use Sametime Unyte for free though the end of the year!) Check out the diagram that started the book (PDF).
The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. This book is also a bit dated, but it does make you aware of design problems just about everywhere you go, the classic being the VCR time-setting problem, which seems to be fixed now with on-screen programming (and DVRs). In every case, whether it's a dishwasher or a remote control, somebody had to design the interface and you'll either not notice it or get frustrated using it. We just got new phones in the office and boy would I like to speak to the designers and provide some feedback!!
About Face 3.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper. Cooper wrote the other popular book in Westford - The Inmates are Running the Asylum. This one might be the single biggest influence on the Notes design team, since he advocates the use of personas and scenarios in order to really understand the user's goals. Sometimes we forget that Samantha's just trying to get her job done! About Face is a heftier tome than the other ones, but it should give you the information you need to make that argument for a good UI decision, in terms that everyone can understand.
Dreaming in Code:"Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software" by Scott Rosenberg. This isn't really a design book, but if you ever wanted to know how a large, ambitious software project ends up taking years and years to complete, go read this book. The book chronicles Mitch Kapor's "Chandler" project. I remember checking it out a few years ago because it looked like it could be a competitor to Notes, at least based on the feature set. It turns out that it's pretty hard to build something like Notes. I recognized many of the scenes described in this book, that's for sure! Along the way, Rosenberg takes the reader thru some of the history of software engineering and the various ways that we have tried to tame it. All in all, a good read.
There are many more books floating around the studio, but these are a few that I have found enlightening.
Program Director, MA UX Design Studio, Lotus Software
Chris Reckling | 9 December 2007 08:06:36 PM ET | Home