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5.0 out of 5 stars GUI Designers Must Have
This is an excellent text on Software Graphical Interface Design. Do not build another application until you have read this book. Well written and organized, this book delivers details on designing for user goals, and how to avoid common pitfalls. There is only one chapter specifically on Web Design, but most of the other content is applicable.
Highly recommended!
Published on Jan. 16 2004 by Seann Hicks

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good techniques on design, but sometimes a bit preachy
Personas and goal-directed design are great techniques for putting together a quality product and really making sure that you're building the right things for your users. In particular, this book provides a process for doing design that would help most teams do a better job of being more customer-focused.
Unfortunately, this book has a few bones to pick with the...
Published on Feb. 7 2004 by Amazon Customer


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3.0 out of 5 stars Good techniques on design, but sometimes a bit preachy, Feb. 7 2004
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
Personas and goal-directed design are great techniques for putting together a quality product and really making sure that you're building the right things for your users. In particular, this book provides a process for doing design that would help most teams do a better job of being more customer-focused.
Unfortunately, this book has a few bones to pick with the current ways that users work. In many cases, while I may agree with statements such as that the File menu is not strictly necessary, users of many programs already understand how things work under the hood and want to know about it directly. He sometimes preaches design as if all customers of software are and should be ignorant of the system they're working on. I write software for other developers, so a lot of the tips and advice he gives are actually things that would cause my customer to become quite angry -- they understand the system, want to work in terms of it, and want to be able to to understand how your program deals with it. There are a number of commercial software tool failures to prove the mistakes of those who've tried to force a model the designers thought was superior on developers who knew better (ever used Visual Age Java?).
There's also a lot of material duplicated from his earlier book, _The Inmates Are Running the Asylum_. If you're only going to read one of the two, I'd advise reading that one, and skipping this one.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Usability Engineer should reengineer this book., Feb. 6 2004
By 
Edwin Waelbers (Antwerp, Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
The main goal of usability engineering is creating the right interface for the right audience.
The target field (cf. the users) of this book are developers, every programmer should have a copy, is not?
A software package, which is unfriendly, laughing and bashing to its user, such a package would be considered as a computer program with a bad design. The user would not like to use it.
Now, I'm wondering why the so self-declared software design god of the modern times is bashing, laughing and unfriendly against the users of his product.
Mister Alan Cooper does not have a clue how a company works and what the background of a developer is all about. He is bashing the wrong people. Bad software interfaces are not the fault of the developer but the management and the methodologies that are used in most companies.
Developers are trained in schools and universities to produce code and to design the internal architecture. Few of them receive cognitive psychology courses, which is needed to create five star interfaces.
The average management in a company, small or big just allows that developers do the graphical interface design, a task for which they were not prepared. The outcome is indeed bad software but don't shoot the pianist, instead turn the spotlight on the choirmaster.
The content-worth of the book is average. It is heavily focusing on one aspect of creating better software interfaces: design guidelines.
While these guidelines are important, it is not enough to create excellent interfaces. The risk is that a developer, after finishing reading the book will think he or she knows everything about the job and this is not his or her fault but the author.
No words are spoiled by instance on User Profiles, Contextual Task Analysis and so many other aspects of user interface designing.
The design guidelines itself are mostly not new, I have read them long ago in other works and with some research you find them for free on the internet. Some guidelines-laws described in the book are even examples of bad designs, which is dangerous, at least in a way.
I can imagine that for an average programmer the book is still revealing, but he or she should know that other grasslands are much greener. Best case, you have a design guideline book, nothing more, nothing less.
I do not know I am allowed to do this, but if you want a real step-by-step guide for creating better software you should try "The Usability Engineering Lifecycle" by Deborah. J. Mayhew, also available on Amazon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GUI Designers Must Have, Jan. 16 2004
By 
Seann Hicks (Calgary, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
This is an excellent text on Software Graphical Interface Design. Do not build another application until you have read this book. Well written and organized, this book delivers details on designing for user goals, and how to avoid common pitfalls. There is only one chapter specifically on Web Design, but most of the other content is applicable.
Highly recommended!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Great author. Awful book., Dec 20 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
I loved "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum", and bought "About Face" looking for some concrete examples of how to implement its ideas. Unfortunately, all of Cooper's concrete ideas are just awful. Half of them would require strong AI in order to implement, and many of them would actually require the computer to have psychic powers.
For instance, he spends a lot of time explaining that programs need to be written to assume that users will make mistakes (because they will), rather than considering mistakes to be a break in the workflow. Sure, sounds good. But then later on, he suggests that if the user of an accounting system enters a record with an invalid account number, the computer should just assume that it's actually a valid account number that the user just hasn't told it about yet. And worse, he suggests that the system should accept it *silently*, and not tell the user that anything at all odd happened until it gets around to generating the end-of-month report and there's still no matching account number. Can you imagine the user of such a system, when the computer finally tells him that *a month ago*, he made a typo while entering a record, and now he has to go digging through paper records (assuming he still even has them) to find the correct information?
It's the same thing with many of his other examples. He suggests ways for the computer to be "smart" that are clearly smart in the very specific cases he's thinking of, but often dumber than before in every other case.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth ten times the purchase price, Dec 3 2003
By 
Rob Reagan (Chattanooga, TN) - See all my reviews
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
The ideas contained in this book are golden. It is irrelevant if Alan Cooper sometimes repackages and presents excellent ideas from others. I found this book to be very informative and an entertaining read. I study this text from time to time to freshen up on some of the ideas. If you are serious about developing quality software, you should read this book
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3.0 out of 5 stars No hay color, Oct. 30 2003
By 
Ricardo Devis (Alicante, Alicante Spain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
Los dos anteriores libros de Cooper son magníficos: por concretos, directos y enfocados. En About Face se habla de problemas de usanza relacionados con pobres prácticas de diseño; y en "Inmates..." se establece un método razonable para tratar con "usuarios no-elásticos". Ambos son rotundos. Y divertidos. Y prácticos (yo utilizo algunas de sus técnicas en Diseño Contextual y de Interacción). About Face 2.0, sin embargo, sólo añade explicaciones innecesarias al About Face original, pues parece que se quiere formalizar un área que antes se había descrito precisamente como no formalizable, y se desprende un cierto tufillo academicista que no le hace justicia a las ideas de Cooper, expuestas muchas veces en conferencias. Así que, igual que con Meyer, sigo recomendando la primera edición, que con todo quedó algo atrasada (pero sus ideas siguen siendo magníficas para adquirir criterio).
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1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of time and money, Oct. 29 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
Usability Engineering (UE) is my profession, therefore I was interested in this book. After reading about half of it, I can only say it is a waste of time and money. The author just seems to be in love with his own ideas (which are by no means new- most of his stuff is old wine in a new barrel) but doesn't realy touch the essentials of UE. It is too simple to blame everything on the developpers.
For those really interested in UE stay away from this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tought medicine for most software developers, Oct. 26 2003
By 
Frank Cohen "-Frank Cohen" (Campbell, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
When Alan Cooper wrote the first edition of About Face in 1997, the software industry was in the midst of its biggest change ever. Just about every new user interface was being created in the context of a Web browser. Cooper was the leading advocate to persuade software developers, graphic artists, usability designers, and interaction designers to avoid bringing the mistakes that got baked into desktop application software developing into Web development. His impact has been profound, but not very easy for most software developers.
Key to this book is to understand that it challenges software developers to consider a user's goals first. And the book means "a user", not all of the users, but a single user. I've been to Alan's presentations and you can see the software developers in the audience squirm in their seats. "Don't I have to build my software to work for the largest group of users?" they ask. Alan's book says "No. Instead, build for a single user, and make sure your work accomplishes their one goal." About Face might be better titled "User Goal Oriented Software Development."
The book's focus on "interaction design," as opposed to user interface design, matches the key theme of user goal oriented development. For example, when my printer runs out of ink a dialog box appears on my computer asking for me to put more ink into the printer and then click one of the following buttons: Finish and Continue. As the user, my goal is to Finish, but the software wants me to put more ink in the printer and then to Continue. Interaction Design addresses this problem, where user interface design would more likely tell the software developer where to place the buttons in the dialog box. Interaction design keeps the focus on user goals.
I loved the original book, and find the new release to be refreshing.
-Frank Cohen, [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Book, Oct. 15 2003
By 
Chris Nagele (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
It seems that most reviews on this book are from software developers, which is why they are so negative. I manage a web development company that concentrates on easy to use websites. From my perspective the ideas and methods are by far the best out there.
His main point is that software developers should not create the interfaces we use. This is an important statement that many people need to understand. The software engineer can't design an interface when he/she has no interaction with the users. Even further, it takes a different mindset to create an interface than it does to code.
You can't blame the author for setting things straight. What you can do is maybe blame the books stores for putting it in the wrong section. It looks as though too many developers are reading this book for insight.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Some good ideas poorly delivered to unclear target audience, Oct. 9 2003
By 
Yaroslav V. "fatboy6921" (Philadelphia, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Paperback)
There seems to be some misunderstanding among previous reviewers of who this book is for, and I have to say I'm confused as well. I see the term "developer" used all over the place, but what exactly does it mean? Part of the problem is that according to Cooper (and just about anyone with basic reasoning skills)developers should be writing code and interaction designers should work on the interfaces. So, it would be reasonable to conclude that this book is targeted towards interaction designers. Then why bother mentioning developers as the source of all evil over and over again?
Who is this book for, anyway? When the author says "requirements" is he talking about project requirements in general or specific interface-related requirements? When he says "design" does he mean software design or interface design? If you have read anything about software engineering in general, I'm sure you will have lots of questions like these.
Although it is a book about interface design issues, it's a big disappointment that the author somehow forgets about the bigger picture and makes it seem like the product is the interface and the design of the product is the design of its interaction with the user.
The author also makes some arguable points. For instance, he claims that there is no such thig as computer literacy - we only have to talk about computer literacy because software is obscure and overly complicated to use.
Somehow it was no surprise to learn that the author also happens to be "the father of VB" :)
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