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Review Review: User Interface Design for Programmers

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by Fergal1982, Sep 16, 2007.

  1. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

    User Interface Design for Programmers

    Author: Joel Spolsky
    Format: Paperback, 144 Pages
    Publisher: Apress (2001)
    ISBN-10: 1-893115-94-1
    ISBN-13: 978-1-893115-94-1
    Amazon.co.uk Link

    With the advent of my first Development role, I decided that it would be prudent to learn a little about User Interface Design, in order to provide better interfaces in my programs.

    Joel Spolsky presents User Interface Design for Programmers as a language neutral treaty on the art of designing user interfaces. He challenges the traditional (if somewhat unconscious) view of programmers that they are developing for people like themselves - other programmers, instead reminding us that we are developing for Joe Public.

    Instead of fixed rules, Joel presents a set of techniques and viewpoints to approach user interface design, in order to allow all UI developers to develop their UIs, and identify problem areas in their designs. For example, Joel advocates what he refers to as 'Hallway Useability Testing' - the act of taking a drawing of your form to a random Joe in you meet in the hallway (preferably not a programmer) and asking them how they would use the drawn interface to achieve a given task. Doing so helps you to identify if your UI is intuitive.

    Joel also advocates that users should not be expected to learn how to use your application. Instead, you should develop your UI in such a way as to take advantage of their existing skills from other applications (an example of this would be copying and pasting - use the windows standard shortcuts for this, rather than obscure shortcuts unique to your application alone).

    The book is filled with (full-colour) screenshots, illustrating the points made regarding UI design. These are a welcome addition and help to get your head around the examples.

    This is a somewhat short book on the subject of UI design, especially compared to other books on the subject, but each technique is succinctly explained with suitable examples to help you understand the points.

    User Interface Design for Programmers takes a lighthearted, humourous look at the subject, which will have you chuckling away, all whilst you are taking in the serious points made in each chapter.

    On a final note, several chapters of this book are available from Joel's blogsite, starting Here. The printed book, however, does contain additional chapters.
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present

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