Interface Design Recommended Reading
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!
Oh... and suggestions
are most welcome!
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
Web Architect (www)
Before the book, Rosenfeld and Morville wrote a series of columns
covering different aspects of information design.
Squishy's Crash Course in Information Architecture (www)
John Shiple, aka Squishy (it's his music-scene handle, dig?), presents
a solid foundation of the information design process in a 4-day
Seven Deadly Sins of Information Architecture (www)
Drue Miller's entertaining presentation of 7 top "gotchas,"
from the big (not using a flowchart) to the small (unclear link
User-Centered Information Design (www)
Written by Yours Truly, a brief piece discussing basic practices
of user-centered design that lead up to your site's architecture.
Design of Everyday Things (book)
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
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
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 (book)
Ben Shneiderman's exhaustive overview of the discipline of user
interface design is perhaps the bible of the field.
Contextual Design (book)
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
and Envisioning Information (book)
Edward Tufte's classic works brilliantly and beautifully explain
proper information presentation.
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 (www)
Keith Instone's remarkably thorough guide to all things Usability
and Interface Design on the Web. Definitely worth bookmarking.
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 (book)
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 (www)
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 (book)
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
A Pattern Language (book)
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
How Buildings Learn (book--hardcover
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.