The complete, practical handbook for effective UI design, development, and usability engineering.
Using extensive practical examples, the Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development illuminates today's best practices for user interface design, usability, and user-centered development. Robert J. Torres introduces user interfaces from three points of view: the user, the developer, and the system. Next, he introduces a complete user-centered UI development process, beginning at the highest level and then drilling down to each phase of the lifecycle. For every stage, Torres offers clear principles, specific guidelines, and practical heuristics for self-assessment.
* Simulation and prototyping
* Planning, user/task analysis, and user profiling
* Risk management in user interface development
* Implementation, evaluation, iteration, and deployment
* Conceptual design, high-level design, and detailed design
* Choosing the optimal tools for building and managing user interfaces
* Understanding the role of managers and project leaders in UI development
Whether you're a developer, project manager, usability specialist, IT manager, software customer, or researcher, Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development will be your definitive resource for building great user interfaces.
Review By: Noreen Dertinger 05/11/2004This book is divided into four parts: Preliminaries, Getting Started, Getting Serious, and Wrapping Up. Using extensive examples, Torres walks readers of this handbook through current best practices for user interface design, usability, and user-centered development from the viewpoints of the user, the developer, and the software under design.
In Part One, Torres provides readers with an overview of approaching the task of building a user interface by examining key principles for being user centered. This includes understanding people (ergonomics and human factors) and the implications of software design and development. He also addresses popular user interface styles (GUIs--graphical user interfaces; WUIs--Web user interfaces; and HUIs--handheld user interfaces) and techniques for participatory methods, such as involving users in the planning, requirements, design, construction, and evaluation of the project. This section concludes with a look at the tools required for the project (including software, hardware, facilities, and templates).
Part Two explains what goes into planning a UI and the associated development effort, with respect to staffing, schedules, and resources. Once these basics are taken care of, Torres examines approaches to gathering UI requirements. Additional topics include the following: the users; conceptual design and architecture: the visual and conceptual approach to the UI; principles, guidelines, and style guides; mockups, simulations, and prototypes; usability evaluation; conducting reviews; evaluating the results and developer participation; and iteration.
Part Three describes what is required, now that management has made significant commitments to the project in the form of funds and resources. This section includes high-level design, with respect to setting the context within the development cycle, components, behavior, and features; techniques for developing the specifications; low-level design, which focuses on the design of details such as sizing, focus, and cursor placement; "graying" (areas that are hard to predict and things to check before moving on); and constructing the product, including testing and deployment and ensuring that the requirements are met.
Part Four provides an approach to looking at what was done and why; a postmortem of the project; and moving on.
The book provides a comprehensive overview with respect to building solid user interfaces with a focus on user-centered development. It is well written and makes for easy and quick reading for all levels of readers involved in the development of a software project.
While most everyone with some computing knowledge thinks they are up to designing a user interface, doing so properly and successfully requires specialized knowledge. This book is designed to acquaint the reader with the "right things that must be done correctly in order to achieve success," to paraphrase the author.
In the Preface, the author defines the book’s primary goals:
"1. Make essential distinctions between the overall usability of a software product and its user interface. Overall usability is a function of many parameters that must be accounted for, and user interface is only one factor.
2. Provide very practical, specific, effective, and 'best practice' guidance and techniques to achieve software products and user interfaces on schedule, with high overall usability, and with high user satisfaction. The guidance and techniques are provided in a way that is immediately applicable to current software user interface projects."
Torres has met both of these goals. His book will provide readers with a detailed and comprehensive overview of user-centered design and human factors of software, as well as guidelines on how to construct and what constitutes a good user interface. With this material, Torres provides testers with a basic starting point for testing and evaluating the UI development both in its details and in relation to the overall usability of the product. The examples provided throughout the book will help testers and other readers to relate to real-life development scenarios while the "rules of thumb" help to clarify the points they are illustrating and can often also be applied to a wide range of real-life projects. The knowledge presented can help testers work with developers (and the UI team if the company has one) to produce software with greater usability for the end users. This book will enhance the UI development and deployment experience for all involved in the process.