Designing Web Interfaces

Author: Bill Scott & Theresa Neil
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2009
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0596516253
Aimed at: Web site designers
Rating: 4
Pros: Over 70 patterns for interface design
Cons: Nothing about how to imprement them
Reviewed by: David Conrad


This book's subtitle, is Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions.  Are they worth following?



The interaction design patterns included in this book are organised around six principles which in turn are used to provide a logical framework for their presentation and discussion. They are:

  • Make it Direct
  • Keep It Lightweight
  • Stay on the Page
  • Provide an Invitation
  • Use Transitions
  • React Immediately
Each of these principles has a color-coded section devoted to it with an introduction to the principle and a brief outline of the chapters included. This straightforward approach combined with lavish illustration and the inclusion of frequent lists of Best Practice key points makes this an easy book to navigate.

 

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This book is about design and there is no discussion as how to implement the patterns discussed at the level of coding. For example, with regard to the first principle, Make it Direct, it is proposed that the interface should respond to the user's interaction and three chapters are then devoted to patterns for directly editing content; moving objects around directly using drag and drop and applying actions to directly selected objects. The patterns presented,  such as Overlay Edit (i.e. editing in an overlay panel) or Toggle Selection are discussed with lots of examples of how they should look (and a flickr website gives even clearer representations than the color illustrations in the book) but there is no HTML or Javascript. 

There are five patterns for Contextual Tools, in  the sole chapter devoted to the second principle, Keep It Lightweight. They are preceded by Fitt's Law - an ergonomic principle that links the size of a target and its distance from the user to its ease of use. Anti-patterns in this chapter show pitfalls to avoid.

Principle Three, Stay on the Page has four chapters devoted to it - Overlays, Inlays, Virtual Pages and Process Flow. In the context of process flow Google Blogger is cited as an example of poor practice here for the way it makes it difficult to delete comments with unnecessary page refreshes. Patterns for keeping users engaged and for integrating shopping carts are also discussed here.

There follow two chapters on providing invitations (principle four) with two static patterns and five dynamic ones. Then come two on using transitions ( - animations, cinematic effects and other types of visual transitions with both patterns and antipatterns. The finally two chapters explore the principle React Immediately and deal with responsiveness. They cover Lookup Patterns and Feedback Patterns. 

Throughout the book the patterns are introduced and motivated with interesting facts and ideas. They are presented with well-chosen examples from a varied selection of websites help to illustrate the advice being provided. Tips and summaries of best practice help readers to assimilate the advice. Overall this is a book that will help improve the standard of rich interface design.


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Becoming Functional

Author: Joshua Backfield
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 152
ISBN: 978-1449368173
Print: 1449368174
Kindle: B00LH4H8TE
Audience: Developers interested in the functional approach
Rating: 3
Reviewer: Alex Armstrong 

Do you want to be non-functional? Of course not!



Head First HTML and CSS, 2nd Ed

Author: Elisabeth Robson and Eric Freeman
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 768
ISBN: 978-0596159900
Audience: Beginners
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

Head First books are designed to get you started. How far does this one go with HTML and CSS?


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