I’ve just read “designing the obvious, a common sense approach to web application design” by Robert Hoekman, Jr. and it’s fantastic. I wish I had read this book much earlier in my career and I would have made much better UI’s. This book is a must read.
Robert goes through what makes an obvious design with some good examples but what is great about his book is that he then continues on with how to apply some rules to your designs to make them obvious. Most of the books I have read on the UI stop after the rhetoric on what is not good about UI’s this one doesn’t which makes it stand out from the crowd.
Robert discusses the qualities of a great application and then how to turn those qualities into goals. “To create software that does the following:
- Conforms to the way users interact with the web, but focuses on the activity instead of a specific audience.
- Has only those features that are absolutely necessary for users to complete the activity the application is meant to support.
- Supports the user’s mental model of what it does.
- Helps users get started quickly so they can become intermediate users as soon as possible.
- Makes it easy for users to recover from mistakes and difficult to make them in the first place.
- Has uniformly designed interface elements, but leverages irregularity to create meaning and importance.
- Reduces clutter to a minimum.
The remaining eight (8) chapters expand on a framework for obvious design, with some real gems of advice and examples. I’d be very surprised if you bought this book and were disappointed with your purchase. If your designing UI’s and Web based UI’s in particular then please get and read this book.
So you know what to expect, the remaining chapter titles are:
- Understand Users, Then Ignore Them
- Build Only What Is Absolutely Necessary
- Support the User’s Mental Model
- Turn Beginners Into Intermediates, Immediately
- Handle Errors Wisely
- Design for Uniformity, Consistency and Meaning.
- Reduce and Refine
- Don’t Innovate When You Can Elevate