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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous diagram representing relationship between elements
I got a EUREKA moment when I first saw the Jesse James Garrett's diagram "Elements of User Experience". I had been trying for years to put in a diagram the various elements of web site design that start with web objectives and finish as the completed web site. Just for that, I had to thank the author by buying his book. The book is both great and average.

I...
Published on Nov. 20 2009 by Marc Poulin

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3.0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to User Interface Design
The book is an introduction text to the field of user interface design.
What I found useful in the book is thinking about the user interface as a number of layers and this reminds me of the layer approach used when explaining communication technologies. I've been using a simpler 3 layer model to communicate what is a user interface to non-professionals and that...
Published on July 30 2003 by d024912


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous diagram representing relationship between elements, Nov. 20 2009
By 
Marc Poulin (Montreal, Quebec) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
I got a EUREKA moment when I first saw the Jesse James Garrett's diagram "Elements of User Experience". I had been trying for years to put in a diagram the various elements of web site design that start with web objectives and finish as the completed web site. Just for that, I had to thank the author by buying his book. The book is both great and average.

I will start with the average part. The book is a little boring. Thankfully, it is short (174 pages). It is made up mostly of flowing text without the use of bulleted lists or boxes of text to draw attention to important stuff. He writes about elements of user experience but gives very few examples. Those not familiar with the subject will find it too theoretical. The web professionals will find the content of limited value.

What is great about the book is how it organizes the elements using a two dimension structure. The first dimension is from abstract (strategy) to concrete (visual). The other dimension is that some elements relate to information and others to tasks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory reading for anyone starting a web project..., Feb. 10 2009
By 
Angela K. Healey Ogden "AK" (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
6 Years later and still relevant...
Breaks the process down into sizeable bits that are understandable to all members of the organisation... Clearly states some of the biggest mistakes made : "Avoid jumping ahead to identify solutions when we don't yet fully understand the problem."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book; Misleading Title, Aug. 19 2003
By 
Gunnar Swanson (Ventura, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
Like many negative Amazon reviews, some detractors of this book seem to object to the fact that it is this book and not something else. In this case they may not be entirely unfair. If you are looking for advanced techniques in web design you won't find them in Garrett's book. If, however, you are looking for a good framework for thinking about design strategy--for your own thinking, for explaining things to clients, or for students--you will find this book indispensable. It is short, sweet, and straightforward. Whether that's good news of bad is something each reader will need to decide.
Some complain that The Elements of User Experience does not go deeply enough into a range of user experience issues. This may partially be the fault of the author and the publisher. The value of this book goes well beyond web projects and the "user experience" world. Much of it applies to a variety of design projects. If I were to make a major objection to the book it is not that it is too shallow but that it is conceived of as too narrow.
Much of the audience that would find this book to be an important breakthrough would never pick up a book that crams the word "User" into the title twice then gets in two buzz words and says "Web." I don't think this is one of the most important books about user experience or user-centered design. It is, however, a great basic book on design strategy. I hope disappointed people rating it poorly for not being the book they hoped for will not detract from this book finding the wider audience it richly deserves.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Superficial babble, Aug. 19 2003
By 
Pat Velderman (Westfield, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
Not worth the paper it is printed on. A superficial treatment of analysis, design and implementation of web sites. After reading 73 pages of content-free material I finally gave up trying to find anything amid the fluff and chucked this one in the trash.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to User Interface Design, July 30 2003
By 
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
The book is an introduction text to the field of user interface design.
What I found useful in the book is thinking about the user interface as a number of layers and this reminds me of the layer approach used when explaining communication technologies. I've been using a simpler 3 layer model to communicate what is a user interface to non-professionals and that works.
However, even knowing that a user interface contains several layers does not help you build a user interface. From my experience, building user interfaces requires synthesis. This is where I found this book lacking, it tells you about the required parts but unfortunately doesn't really help tell you how to put them together. Using a cooking analogy, you have the ingredients for the meal but you are missing the quantities and cooking times.
Therefore this book is great to understand what a user interface but it is of limited help to build a user interface.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great starter for novice, April 29 2003
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This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
Not to diminish the value of this great book, but, it is very basic. Establishes a good basic overall process to efficiently manage user interface development. Takes you through step by step. Essential to have this approach before looking at other aspects in more depth. Not technical, so you don't need to be a developer to understand concepts. Good value and a quick read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars nice starter for newbie but not much depth..., March 26 2003
By 
Uday N. Gajendar "udanium235" (Menlo Park, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
First off, the author is reportedly disdainful of "design education" (ie, scholarly programs that foster legitimate inquiry and exploration of critical issues in user experience) so it's no surprise that this book, mildly sufficient for beginners puzzled as to how to even start a web project, lacks the necessary conceptual foundations of design thinking for examining complex, application oriented, "beyond the web" design problems: interpretations, perspectives, etc. to enable a designer/IA to step "beyond" the immediate problem and extrapolate principles and patterns. Fundamental issues of cognition, social interaction, drama, emotion, etc. are not even hinted. Also, the core diagram, while visually interesting, has many gaps and simplifications. The fact is, the areas of interaction design and information architecture are quite dynamic in practice (and theory) to be declared with such an "easy" diagram. And the false dichotomies between UI, IA, ID, etc. reveal a unhealthy temptation to simplify and codify, leading to false perceptions by newbies about design practice.
So, while the book offers the rudimentary basics of web projects (which are quite useful), the array of techniques and over-simplification of process/forethought can be a disservice for someone truly trying to understand "user experience" elements. Instead, I'd highly recommend Clement Mok's "Designing Business", Veen's "Art and Science of Web Design" (especially the last chapter), HIllman Curtis' "Making the Invisible Visible", and Shedroff's "Experience Design" (though it is hard to "read" his book :-)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good for someone who knows nothing of User Experience Design, March 13 2003
By 
"gzahnd" (Santa Cruz, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
There was not much in this book that I didn't glean from Jesse's one page PDF back in 2000. If you're a professional designer that is curious about this book, just check out the PDF. It's free, quick, and concise.
On the other hand, if you're someone that is new to UE, or maybe a designer struggling to get some core concepts across to a clueless team, client, or boss, then this book might nail what you're looking for. It's well-written, physically small, and not intimidating at all.
Jesse said it best in the intro: "This is not a book of answers. Instead, this book is about asking the right questions... This book will tell you what you need to know before you go read those other books."
This book provides no insight into techniques or methodologies for user experience design. It only brings to light that those techniques and methodologies exist.
Summary: Jesse, you wrote a good book. I just didn't pull much else from it past your excellent, excellent PDF a few years ago. Cheers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good for someone who knows nothing of User Experience Design, March 13 2003
By 
"gzahnd" (Santa Cruz, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
There was not much in this book that I didn't glean from Jesse's one page PDF back in 2000. If you're a professional designer that is curious about this book, just check out the PDF. It's free, quick, and concise.
On the other hand, if you're someone that is new to UE, or maybe a designer struggling to get some core concepts across to a clueless team, client, or boss, then this book might nail what you're looking for. It's well-written, physically small, and not intimidating at all.
Jesse said it best in the intro: "This is not a book of answers. Instead, this book is about asking the right questions... This book will tell you what you need to know before you go read those other books."
This book provides no insight into techniques or methodologies for user experience design. It only brings to light that those techniques and methodologies exist.
Summary: Jesse, you wrote a good book. I just didn't pull much else from it past your excellent, excellent PDF a few years ago. Cheers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for your library!, Feb. 8 2003
By 
Dick Miller (Beaverton, OR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
"Ready...Fire...Aim!"
How many times have you been involved in a Web site design effort that seems to fit this approach? Sadly, we all have such experiences in our lives. This delightful little book provides user experience designers a conceptual model for producing Web sites. This allows for a process that is rigorous, logical, and easily communicated.
Jesse James Garrett defines the term "user experience" as "...how (a) product behaves and is used in the real world." He focuses this book on consideration of one particular kind of product: Web sites.
In the Introduction, the author describes this book as
"...not a how-to book, ...not a book about technology, ...(and) not a book of answers. Instead, this book is about asking the right questions.
"This book will tell you what you need to know before you go read those other books. If you need the big picture, if you need to understand the context for the decisions that user experience practitioners make, this book is for you."
I agree wholeheartedly. The role that this book can play in developing your skill as a user experience practitioner is analogous to the role of ground school for a fledgling airplane pilot. Before a prospective pilot gets behind the controls, ground school teaches the principles of flight, aircraft systems, and other basics that need to be understood before actually taking off. Similarly, this book provides a way of understanding user experience that helps you make informed decisions as you begin and continue the design of a user experience. Garrett suggests (and I agree) that the two primary audiences for the book are newcomers (such as an executive responsible for assembling a user experience team) and those who are more familiar with user experience design and need to communicate their methods and concerns to others in an understandable way.
In a subsection of the Introduction entitled "The Story Behind the Book," Garrett relates the tale of how the book came to be. It goes back to a three-dimensional diagram he developed in late 1999 and early 2000, that serves as a model for visualizing both the elements of user experience and their interrelationships. Garrett points out that there is a duality to Websites, which he describes in a note accompanying that diagram as follows:
"The Web was originally conceived as a hypertextual information space; but the development of increasingly sophisticated front- and back-end technologies has fostered its use as a remote software interface. This dual nature has led to much confusion, as user experience practitioners have attempted to adapt their terminology to cases beyond the scope of its original application."
Furthermore, the diagram provides a clear and consistent way to use the plethora of terms that have been used (and, in many cases, misused) to refer to aspects of user experience design. He includes such terms as User Needs, Site Objectives, Content Requirements, Functional Specifications, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Information Design, Navigational Design, Interface Design, and Visual Design, shows them in the context of his model, and clarifies their underlying relationships. This diagram, which is available on the Web, was first published in March 2000 and, in the ensuing year, was downloaded more than 20,000 times. Garrett's Web site also includes other information useful to user experience designers.
A more detailed explanation of that diagram and how it can be used to understand the aspects and processes of intelligent user experience design form the core of the book. Garrett begins with a lucid and succinct explanation of what is meant by "user experience" and why it is important. He follows this with an introduction to the diagram and chapters on each of its five planes: Strategy, Scope, Structure, Skeleton, and Surface. He then ties it all together with a chapter that looks at how these understandings can be applied to the actual development of Web sites.
The book is very well written and executed. Diagrams are clear, terminology is used consistently, navigation aids and advance organizers are used to good advantage, and the book design is clean and visually appealing. Garrett's writing style makes approachable a highly complex subject, while still including all the essentials. The book includes a 13-page index, which is quite extensive for a volume of this length. This serves as a useful tool that allows you to dip into the information as needed once you have read it through. This slim volume is just the right length to be read in a single sitting, say, on a business flight.
I wish that this book and the diagram upon which it is based were available when I first attempted the design of user experiences. It could have saved me from false starts, sub-optimal choices, and other hard-won lessons, and would have made it much easier for me to communicate my ideas to my fellow team members and to the managers for whom I worked. "Better late than never" is an adage that applies here. I'm glad it is available now, and I expect to get my money's worth from it.
Get this book. Read it. Understand it. Apply it. You'll be a better user experience designer because of it.
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The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web by Jesse James Garrett (Paperback - Oct. 21 2002)
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