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UI Books

I'm going to buy a book on useability & UI design, and am looking for recommendations.  I already have About Face which I bought and read some years ago.  I thought that was an interesting but not outstanding book.

I would like a book which has a good practical slant to it (I'm a developer) and plenty of coverage of Web useability issues.  I currently have a shortlist of 3 that I'm considering

- Joel's book "User Interface Design for Programmers",

- "GUI Bloopers: Don'ts and Do's for Software Developers and Web Designers" by Jeff Johnson,

- "Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability" by Steve Krug, Roger Black.

Any impressions of these books, or any other UI books for that matter, would be appreciated.

I would like to support Joel and buy his book but I am concerned it might not have enough depth to it.  I guess I could buy more than 1 UI book but I'm already buying a bunch of other books in this Amazon order, got to draw the line somewhere...


Saturday, November 16, 2002


I bought Joels book, and I have not read any other in-depth book on UI-design. It is good enough for me to pick up the basics of UI-design, and my UI-design has improved.

I have shown the book to some web usability, UI design people who works with UI and Web design professionally, and they have told me pretty much what I expected; Joels book contains no secrets or new things to them. However they said, that if you could bring every coder/tech guy to the level of understanding this book gives the world would be a better place, usability wise.

You do not tell if you are a programmer or other software professional in your post, but I can say this; if you are a programmer with limited UI-design skills Joels book is a good place to start. If you will be doing UI-design as your primary thing you might want to check out other more in-depth books.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Buy Joel's.

I think it's the most useful book I've ever read about Usability. Very practical advices, suggestions and how-tos. You'd definitely enjoy it.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Peter, they're all inexpensive, and I've seen both Joel's and Steve Krug's books on the $5 - $15 rack at CompUSA. As for time to read, you can read all of Joel's book in one or two days in free time, and "Don't Make Me Think," which I enjoyed immensely, can be read in one or two sittings. I have not read "Gui Bloopers".

The Steve Krug book is 100% Web stuff, and I recommend it highly. Joel's book is also excellent, but considering you can read most of it free online, if you're strapped for cash, you might want to go for "GUI Bloopers" instead.

Troy King
Sunday, November 17, 2002

While these aren't strictly UI books, they're thought-provoking and good background..

Don Norman - human factors thoughts
Edward Tufte - information design and presentation
Scott McCloud - theory of comics

(Gotta read Joel's book-even if the info is covered elsewhere, it's sure to be entertaining)

Jeff Winkler
Sunday, November 17, 2002

I've read "Bloopers," it's a decent book (despite the silly title) but don't make it your first buy. Get Cooper's "About Face" or Joel's book first. "About Face" is more encyclopedic, whereas Joel's skips right to the solutions.

Another book that may interest you is Jef Raskin's "The Humane Interface." Raskin's ideas are pretty far out; the book deals with what could be done if one were to completely abandon contemporary desktop-style interfaces and start again from scratch. It makes for thought-provoking reading. (in contrast, "About Face" and Joel's book are about how to make better use of the existing desktop-style design elements; they will be more helpful if you are designing a shrink-wrap Windows product, rather than something entirely new and different).

Dan Maas
Sunday, November 17, 2002

Dan, you're so right -- how could I forget about "The Humane Interface". That one was excellent, and when Raskin tells about the projects he's worked on, like the portable word processor, it really does make you wonder why we can't fix some of what's wrong with current interfaces.

I've also seen that one on the cheap rack at book stores, and recommend it as well. Good call, Dan.

Troy King
Sunday, November 17, 2002

Don't forget the official UI design guidelines, if any are available for your target platform.

Big B
Sunday, November 17, 2002

On the shelf: Heckel, Raskin, Tog, Cooper, McCloud.

Nielsen is next on my list - just picked it up this weekend.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Oops - forgot Pilgrim (Dive Into Mark) which is currently on hiatus.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Joel's book on UI Design is, without a doubt, an excellent book on the subject and has to one of the best books I have ever purchased for the money. When it comes to UI design, it is altogether informative and provides much food for thought. I should also add that Joel's style of writing is in a class of its own. In fact, I had a difficult time putting it down when I first started reading it. This is indeed a reference book that no programmer, who wants to develop good software, should be without!

Marty Potokar
Sunday, November 24, 2002

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