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GUI Bloopers 2.0: Common User Interface Design Don'ts and Dos [Paperback]

Jeff Johnson

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Book Description

Aug. 27 2007 0123706432 978-0123706430 2
Is your application or Web site ready for prime time?

A major revision of a classic reference, GUI Bloopers 2.0 looks at user interface design bloopers from commercial software, Web sites, Web applications, and information appliances, explaining how intelligent, well-intentioned professionals make these mistakes--and how you can avoid them. While equipping you with the minimum of theory, GUI expert Jeff Johnson presents the reality of interface design in an entertaining, anecdotal, and instructive way.

* Updated to reflect the bloopers that are common today, incorporating many comments and suggestions from first edition readers.

* Takes a learn-by-example approach that teaches how to avoid common errors.

* Covers bloopers in a wide range of categories: GUI controls, graphic design and layout, text messages, interaction strategies, Web site design -- including search, link, and navigation, responsiveness issues, and management decision-making.

* Organized and formatted so information needed is quickly found, the new edition features call-outs for the examples and informative captions to enhance quick knowledge building.

* Hundreds of illustrations: both the DOs and the DON'Ts for each topic covered, with checklists and additional bloopers on www.gui-bloopers.com.

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Review

"GUI Bloopers 2.0 is an extremely useful book for any software developer or interaction designer. If you have never made any of these mistakes, it's because you have never designed a UI. If anything, these bloopers are even more common now than when version 1.0 was published, so the need for the book has only increased.” --Jakob Nielsen, Principal Nielsen Norman Group (www.nngroup.com)


"This is the most entertaining design book I've read. Jeff Johnson has once again done a fabulous job of reminding us about all the silly design mistakes we can make and giving us great advice on how to avoid them in our own designs." --Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering

"The second edition of GUI Bloopers is that true rarity: a sequel to something great that's even better than the original. (Think Godfather II.) While Jeff could have settled for just updating the examples, as near as I can tell he's rewritten nearly the entire book, and it shows. The organization is terrific, the insights are easier to grasp, and above all, the writing is leaner. If you ever picked it up in the past and ended up not plunking down your money, definitely take another look. It's gone from a great book to an excellent one." --Steve Krug, Advanced Common Sense

About the Author

Jeff Johnson is president and principal consultant at UI Wizards, Inc., a product usability consulting firm (www.uiwizards.). He has worked in the field of Human-Computer Interaction since 1978, as a software designer and implementer, usability tester, manager, researcher at several computer and telecommunications companies, and as a consultant. In the course of his career, he has written many articles, cowritten several books, and given numerous presentations on a variety of topics in Human-Computer Interaction.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GUI Bloopers 2.0 earns my "two thumbs up". It Sept. 10 2007
By David Dick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Once upon a time, graphical user interfaces (GUI) were found only in operating systems for PCs. Today, we are confronted with a GUI when we use self-service checkout counters, when we pay bills online, and when we use our mobile phones, to name a few examples. Whether we can complete our transactions or accomplish our tasks depends on having a GUI that is easy to use and easy to understand. No doubt you have seen people confused with the touch-screen menu at the self-service checkout counter, or abandon their online shopping cart because the form is confusing. You may well have chosen a competitor's brand of income tax preparation software because it is easier to use. Frustrated users mean lost income and products that fail in the market place. When GUI's fail, that's when companies call a user interface designer like Jeff Johnson to change poor design into great design.

The first edition of GUI Bloopers heralded Johnson's first work as a book author. GUI Bloopers was intended for software developers who often work double as user interface designers, development managers, and new user interface designers. But GUI Bloopers also gained popularity among teachers and technical writers who wanted to understand the rules of good user interface design. Readers' feedback, new software products and Web applications on the market inspired Johnson to write an updated version--GUI Bloopers 2.0.

GUI Bloopers 2.0 describes common user-interface mistakes found in today's software products and services, and provides design rules and guidelines to avoid them. Johnson describes the design decisions that lead to misuse of controls, poor navigation, prose-riddled labels, bad design and layout, faulty interaction, and poor responsiveness. GUI Bloopers 2.0 is well illustrated with hundreds of examples from real products and online services, and stories from his own experience. To compare and contrast good and bad design, Johnson gives a "thumbs up" for good design and a "thumbs down" for a blooper.

The book contains the following chapters:

Chapter 1, First Principles, describes nine principles of product design: focus on the users and their tasks, not on the technology; consider function first and presentation later; conform to the users' view of the task; design for the common case; don't complicate the users' task; facilitate learning; deliver information and not just data; design for responsiveness; and try it out on users and then fix it. Too often, the rush to deliver products means ignoring one or more of these principles. Johnson could have omitted this chapter and jumped right into describing GUI bloopers, but it provides an informational foundation for the discussion of bloopers.

Chapter 2, GUI Control Bloopers, is the first of six chapters dedicated to GUI design details. It describes the most common misuses of controls (i.e. checkboxes, tabs, input fields and buttons) and how to avoid them.

Chapter 3, Navigation Bloopers, emphasizes the importance of cues to let people know where they are, where they have been, and where they can go. This chapter describes the most common navigation mistakes and how to design effective navigation cues.

Chapter 4, Textual Bloopers, describes how inconsistent and unclear terminology, poor writing, jargon, and misleading text can confuse users. The typical GUI contains a lot of text, and if it's poorly written, users can easily get lost. Peer reviews of the user interface by developers do not uncover these errors if they cannot recognize them as confusing. For example, an error message that describes a script error is informative to a developer but meaningless to a user, -. Johnson offers suggestions for educating development teams about good writing and acceptable terminology, and how to conduct reviews to identify textual bloopers.

Once the GUI controls have been added, properly labeled and any supplemental text has been written, it is time to decide on presentation: layout, colors, and text fonts. Chapter 5, Graphic Design and Layout Bloopers, presents guidelines on layout and window placement, colors, and text fonts. You will learn valuable presentation guidelines that will make user interface easier to read and understand. Unfortunately, Johnson was unable to provide examples of bloopers showing poor use of color because the book is printed in black and white. However, he covers color bloopers in a Web Appendix at [...]

Chapter 6, Interaction Bloopers, is the first of two chapters that describe the mechanics that underlie the user interface. In this chapter, Johnson presents the user interface design principles that affect human perception, reading, information processing, and problem solving. The chapter clarifies why violating these principles results in a software product that is hard to learn and frustrating to use. Some of the design mistakes covered in this chapter are driven by business rules and processes mandated by clients and corporate policy. If those business rules and processes do not contribute to usability, this chapter will educate you on how to make an argument for improving interaction.

Chapter 7, Responsiveness Bloopers, is the second chapter that deals with the mechanics that underlie the user interface design. In this chapter, Johnson describes the reasons for poor responsiveness and the design principles for improving responsiveness. Before I read this chapter, I assumed that sticky buttons, frozen cursors, and lagging scrollbars (to name a few) meant that my PC was too slow. After reading this chapter, I learned not to confuse responsiveness with performance.

Chapter 8, Management Bloopers, describes management misconceptions and mistakes that lead to poor product usability. Other authors have dedicated whole books to management-level problems that affect usability. Johnson could have easily omitted this chapter and listed those books as references. However, he does not just rant about why poor management leads to poor usability; he provides strategies and suggestions to educate management about usability.

GUI Bloopers 2.0 is supplemented by a Web site, [...] which provides the following information:

* GUI Bloopers checklist: a check list of all of the types of bloopers in the book to facilitate checking software before release.
* Web Appendix: Color Bloopers: two bloopers about poor use of color that could not be included in the book because the book is not printed in color.
* More bloopers: additional bloopers not included in the book, starting with bloopers that did not make the "final cut".

GUI Bloopers 2.0 earns my "two thumbs up". It is well written, well researched, and an essential resource for anyone developing software products and Web applications.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so you thought you knew about User Iterface design? Nov. 28 2007
By T. Del Favero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I thought I understood ease of use on the web, until I read this book! Jeff Johnson REALLY understands UI design--there are pages and pages of pearls in this book, useful tidbits that continually had me saying "why didn't I think of that?!", and demonstrating the value of his significant experience in this area.

Also, as a manager, I learned a lot about the different collaborative roles that must come together (graphics vs. developer vs UI, etc.), and how managers can sabotage their important web project by ignoring or postponing UI design until it's too late. For managers, this section of the book alone is worth the price.

Highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Guilty of some bloopers itself June 17 2012
By COB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm surprised this book gets such good reviews. A lot of it is taken up with not particularly exciting bloopers such as using checkboxes instead of radio buttons etc. It's also written in a boring style, listing off blooper after blooper. A much better read in the same genre is something like "Why Software Sucks" by David Platt where at least some of the authors passion comes through.

However the most frustrating thing for me is that the Kindle edition of this book is full of bloopers itself. It seems that some OCR program has been used to convert the captions on the screenshots and figures to text. They are full of sometimes hilarious but mostly just annoying misspellings and errors. The figures also don't line up well with the text, meaning that you end up navigating forwards and backwards through the pages to see them.

It's not really acceptable when the Kindle edition costs so much. It's quite ironic that a book about GUI bloopers would make such an error.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Informational Jan. 27 2008
By Jonathan Broom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm only about half way through the book, but so far i'm pretty happy with this book. I'm a UI designer, and I began to get worried that this book was aimed more at developers and programers, thus not being much use for me. As I read on i realised that it is very well rounded for all involved in the process from begining to end, and provides a very good base of information on the priciples of designing for the user. the introduction actually recommends different chapters for differnet people (UI designer, developer, etc), making it a great tool without having to read the entire book if you don't want to. It also seems to up to date as of the end of 2007.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for developers who are not interaction experts April 7 2009
By A. Benenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is aimed at programmers and software developers who might not have much if any formal training in UI design and interaction design.

Each chapter is named after a class of common errors (e.g. 'Navigation Bloopers', 'Taking control away from users', etc.) and gives many examples of the error, and shows how to fix the errors.

The book seems to focus about equally on desktop application UI and web UI, so both types of developers will find it handy.

Note that there's probably not much new here if you're already an experienced UI/interaction designer or usability expert.

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