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interface design
Interface Pieces
November 24, 1998: Whither "User Experience"?
November 16, 1998:
Some Odds and Ends
October 26, 1998: Interface Design Recommended Reading List
August 10, 1998:
Whose "My" Is It Anyway?
July 29, 1998:
User-Centered Information Design
June 29, 1998:
Best Practices for E-Commerce Functionality
May 21, 1998:
Transitions in Experience Design
May 17, 1998:
Interface Lessons from Video Game Design
May 2, 1998:
Lessons From CHI 98

Thoughts on Interface design
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Interface Design Recommended Reading List
A friend recently asked me what I've read and where I've looked to get good ideas for designing Web sites. Forthwith my recommended reading list, pointing to both online and offline sources of solid information. I've broken up the list along the lines of

Books are all linked to Amazon. I'm an associate, so if you plan on purchasing one of these, please do so by clicking to it from my site. Thanks!

suggestions are most welcome!

Information Architecture

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (
book). The best basic text on the this subject. Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville are trained librarians who bring their knowledge of organizing and sifting through massive amounts of information to the Web. Of particular note is their chapter on search engine design, excerpted here.

Web Architect (
Before the book, Rosenfeld and Morville wrote a series of columns covering different aspects of information design.

Squishy's Crash Course in Information Architecture (
John Shiple, aka Squishy (it's his music-scene handle, dig?), presents a solid foundation of the information design process in a 4-day "crash course."

Seven Deadly Sins of Information Architecture (
Drue Miller's entertaining presentation of 7 top "gotchas," from the big (not using a flowchart) to the small (unclear link colors).

User-Centered Information Design (
Written by Yours Truly, a brief piece discussing basic practices of user-centered design that lead up to your site's architecture.

Interface Design
Design of Everyday Things (
With this modest tome, Don Norman begat the revolution towards user-centered design. Grounded in cognitive psychology and discussing the interface design of physical objects (door handles, stove dials, etc), the clear presentation and engaging tone make this discipline accessible to all. Perhaps the only must-have on my list.

First Person: Donald Norman (
cd-rom -- Mac only)
Containing the complete text of Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, Turn Signals are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles, and Things That Make Us Smart, along with some of his scholarly essays, makes this CD-ROM (remember those?) the single best source for Norman's ideas. Also features extensive audio and video of Norman further explaining his ideas (some of which can be hard to grasp).

Interface Culture (book -
hardcover or paperback)
Perhaps the first book of interface design criticism, made all the more revealing because its author, Steven Johnson, isn't a designer himself. I read this after having taken a class in User-Centered Design, and his hip perspective was a breath of fresh air after all the stuffy academic journal articles. His book has inspired much of the writing and thought you see on my site.

Designing the User Interface (
Ben Shneiderman's exhaustive overview of the discipline of user interface design is perhaps the bible of the field.

Contextual Design (
Karen Holtzblatt and Hugh Beyer's groundbreaking text of a new field within systems design. Predicated on ethnographic research of users (or customers, as they call them), and how to turn insightful, but nebulous, qualitative data into rock-solid information from which you can design. You can't claim to be "user-centered" without experiencing this work.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (book) and Envisioning Information (book)
Edward Tufte's classic works brilliantly and beautifully explain proper information presentation.

Alertbox (
Web Usability Guru™ Jakob Nielsen's highly opinionated bi-weekly column on usability and the Web. While I don't always agree with what he has to say, it's worth reading because, well, everyone else reads his stuff, too.

Usable Web (
Keith Instone's remarkably thorough guide to all things Usability and Interface Design on the Web. Definitely worth bookmarking.

mailing list)
The single best community discussion dealing with user interface issues as they apply specifically to the World Wide Web.

Managing the Process
Secrets of Successful Websites (
David Siegel's guide to project management on the World Wide Web is helpful to all those who need to orchestrate the management of a site from start to finish. Its
companion Web site explains more. (But if you buy it, do it from my link! 'Cause I'm greedy!)

MetaGrrrl Proposal on Documentation of the Design Process in Online Environments (
The result of a final project for a masters degree in Library and Information Science, MetaGrrrl (aka Dinah Sanders) presents a method for documenting Web development such that all the pearls of your creative genius can be seamlessly transferred to others, so as not to compromise your vision. Akin to a blueprint for architecture.

Off the beaten path:
Understanding Comics (
One of the most clever dissections of the creative process I've read. Scott McCloud ingeniously uses the comics medium to discuss it, and, in the process, discusses art and creativity at all levels. In my experience, this book has been on the shelf of every UI geek I've respected.

A Pattern Language (
Written in 1977, this book is one of the best pieces of meaty information design I've come across. While many UI and software development types have looked to patterns themselves as an approach to their work (and with good reason), I find the book's presentation, the layout of each item of the language, the nodal navigation from item to item, the mix of text and image, all of this to be as inspiring as the topic itself. It's hard to describe, but trust me, it's worth reading.

How Buildings Learn (book--
hardcover or paperback)
Stewart Brand's look at how buildings change and adapt over time got me thinking about similar issues in Web design. While users don't "inhabit" Web sites (particularly corporate ones), that doesn't mean Web sites shouldn't change to better accommodate user needs (and, clearly, the best ones do), and Brand's discussion of known issues of building change translate well to this new medium.