Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

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Cool things that people have done with interfaces and why they work

I don't often ask for review copies of O'Reilly books on paper. I write about them and refer to them frequently but I usually read them through Safari, the online library where I can search, browse or read page by page like a normal book. I did ask for a copy of Designing Interfaces: patterns for effective design (Jenifer Tidwell) because I thought it would be a book to pore over. It is.

First thing I noticed; the cover is the usual O'Reilly animal - but in attention grabbing colour. There's a whole section of CSS Zen Garden styles. It's packed with clips of interfaces from applications and the Web. I'm going to sit down and read it properly, but I'm going to recommend it straight away anyway ;-)

Getting the interface right is half the battle (functionality matters too, hence the rant that will be in my next post about the rumoured RIM workaround) and I've been thinking about design styles for supporting navigation habits a lot lately because of the gender design preferences piece I've been researching (now to find a home in .net magazine). Press the user's joy button in the interface, or at the very least don't whack them on the funny bone. At AOL I had to spend a significant proportion of my daily life in a CMS that has what I would nominate as the world's worst interface: eleven tabs with 20+ checkboxes and fields on each, of which a minimum of two needed changing on each tab. Add in a garbage collection mechanism that was so aggressive that it collected database record locks and you have a user who develops strong views on user interface. So I like that here's a book you can give to programmers along with Understanding Comics and say 'read this and then we can argue'.

Tags: books, design, geek, interface, technology, writing

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