Isys Information Architects - Making information usable

Interface Hall of Shame

- Recommended Reading -

We have compiled the following short list of books that we recommend to aspiring designers and to developers interested in learning more about the design of effective interfaces. The links on this page will take you to the book's listing on, where you can read the reviews of other readers for the selected book.

Design of Everyday Things

Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things is in our view the single most important book on interface design, yet does not directly discuss the design of software interfaces. By examining the devices we use on a daily basis, the author lucidly describes basic principles of design in an enjoyable manner. This book will change the way you view your world. A must-read.

GUI for Dummies

Laura Arlov's GUI Design for Dummies, despite its unfortunate title, is a valuable resource for the developer. The book offers straightforward, practical advice in an easy to read format. The book provides many examples and will become a valuable reference. The section on the differences between developers and users should be required reading in every programming class. Very highly recommended.

About Face

Alan Cooper's The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How To Restore the Sanity is an exceptional treatise on the deplorable state of software design. Why does software suck? Read the book. If more developers and IT managers had, there would be no need for the Interface Hall of Shame. A must read for any member of the computing profession.

About Face

Alan Cooper's About Face is an important book for developers because it challenges the developer to view the interface from the user's perspective. Some readers may find some of the recommendations controversial, but the book is unquestionably thought-provoking. It is not a practical, how-to guide to interface design, but it will definitely change your approach to interface design. Highly recommended.

International User Interfaces

International User Interfaces, edited by Elisa del Galdo and Jakob Nielsen, is an essential reference for developers, documentation specialists, and program managers involved in the development of software for international use. Taken as a whole, the book emphasizes the importance of recognizing and acknowledging cultural differences in software design and use. The book has a decidedly academic approach, but provides a wealth of useful information in specific articles on such topics as international usability testing, the use of images and symbology, designing for Arabic and Chinese fonts, and the impact of design on cultural acceptance of the product.

Designing the User Interface

Ben Shneiderman's Designing The User Interface: Strategies for Effective Communication is a comprehensive textbook covering the history, underlying issues, and principles of user interface design. The book provides practical techniques and guidelines, supported by empirical research, and should serve as an invaluable resource for designers and developers. Highly recommended.

User Interfaces for Windows

Everett McKay's Developing User Interfaces for Microsoft Windows provides a great deal of practical, straightforward information written specifically for Windows developers. Unlike most books on GUI design, this book is written by a programmer, and as such, may seem more accessible to other developers. Highly recommended for the target audience.

Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Edward Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is the definitive reference on the presentation of data. Full of examples, this book will help you create elegant and professional graphics to convey your message. Do not try to graphically present data to your users without having read this book. Very highly recommended.

Envisioning Information

Edward Tufte's Envisioning Information is a companion book to The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Beautifully arranged and easy to read, this book will change the way you view the presentation of information. Very highly recommended.

Java Look and Feel Guidelines

Sun Microsystem's Java Look and Feel Guidelines provides essential information for anyone involved in creating cross-platform applications and applets in the JavaTM programming language. Highly recommended.

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