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Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques Paperback – Dec 5 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1 edition (Dec 5 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0133033899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0133033892
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.6 x 23.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #626,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

An excellent introduction to the design theories involved in the creation of user interfaces. Instead of the usual examples and pictures of computer screens and application menus, Mullet approaches the concept of UI from its "outside world" roots. With examples ranging from street signs to corporate logos to the map of the London Underground, each section attacks the issues of interface design from the ground up, appealing first to the eye and then to the mind. Task menus are compared with concert programs and street signs are equated with icons.

This is not a technical book, so advanced developers might want to supplement it with a platform-specific how-to. For aesthetic advice and sheer enjoyment, anyone involved with or interested in interface design should pick it up.

From the Publisher

Ironically, many designers of graphical user interfaces are not always aware of the fundamental techniques that are applied to communication-oriented visual design -- techniques that can be used to enhance the visual quality of GUIs, data displays, and multimedia documents. This book describes some of the most important design rules and techniques that are drawn from the rational, functionalist design aesthetic seen in modern graphic design, industrial design, interior design, and architecture -- and applies them to various graphical user interface problems experienced in commercial software development.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book has a lot of great information, and the layout (of the information) is actually pretty good. Unfortunately, the density and otherwise poor quality of the prose and editing obscure this. I can't believe a book that costs this much, and whose focus is presentation, would have such glaringly obvious errors. I've never seen a book with so many typos. It also uses the incredibly wordy and verbose style often found in the art world, a technique that does not exactly help in demystification of a topic that surely needs it. The good news is that I was preparing a technical writing class as I was reading the book and it provided a ready source for exercises.
A good rewrite of this book, with up to date examples, is overdue. In the mean time, if you can wade through the prose, the information is definitely there.
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Format: Paperback
This book should certainly not be your first book on GUI design. You might want to check out Alan Cooper "About Face", Johnson "GUI Bloopers" or a similar one which focuses in a broad way specifically on GUIs. If you are interested in Web design you might prefer the excellent "Don't make me thing" from Steve Krug. Even if you want to look at GUI design with a strong graphics bias you might first want to read the beautiful books of Tufte.
Having said that and you still make it to this book. You get an excellent treatment of the graphic aspects of design in general and at many places with special applications to GUIs. Examples are posters, maps, public transportation information, different GUIs including the NextStep. If you like Piet Mondrian, the Bauhaus ... then you enjoy the positive examples a lot. The book gives some theoretical background and tries to help build our taste by showing good and bad solutions to design problems.
The pictures are well reproduced (mostly black and white) and of good quality. The cover of the book is somewhat horrid (on line order saved me here from not buying it). Also it is extremely soft cover - way too soft for such a valuable book.
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Format: Paperback
Does everybody criticize your user interfaces but nobody seems to have any useful suggestions? This book is for you! Have you been expected to make user-friendly interfaces, but you have absolutely no background in design? This book is for you!
"Designing visual interfaces" provides an introduction to visual design that is very accessible to engineer types (like myself). Although people's reactions to various designs are "touchy-feely", the process to creating a good design is surprisingly scientific. You don't have to be an especially creative type of person to avoid the common pitfalls.
The book covers two or three related aspects of design in each chapter (such as Scale, Contrast, and Proportion). The first section of each chapter describes the principal variables that control those aspects. The simplest possible examples are presented first, typically black and white line drawings, then examples from industrial design and finally some examples from actual user interfaces. Then a "common errors" section shows examples of graphical user interfaces where these aspects of design are out of balance. Finally a "techniques" section gives handbook/cookbook approaches to avoiding the common errors. This section includes before and after screenshots.
The presentation is wonderfully uniform and consistent. Rather than using contrived examples, the authors have found real-life examples (many of which you will recognize) for all of the common errors.
This book does not cover how to map a problem domain to a user interface. It is assumed that you already understand the problem domain. It is not a style book for a particular operating system (the authors advocate using the vendor's guidebooks).
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Format: Paperback
This is a great book if you know how to use it. Its not for people looking for cookbook approaches. Rather, it provides well argued information about the underlying principles of visual design. The authors ilustrate their points about grids, layout, typography, and color by showing examples of top notch efforts by some of the best information designers in the world.
Classic examples like the London subway maps and the National Park Service brochures are illustrated, along with excellent explanations of the design principles that make these particular design so successful.
The aurthors then go on to show how these examples can be applied to GUI design. And they are very gutsy as they show actual examples from actual software products that are "design failures". In fairness, they also show examples of well designed software, with explanations of why the design works so well.
This book is for a person who's willing to invest some time to learn about things like information hierarchies and information design. Like playing a piano, this isn't something one can master over night, but also like playing a piano, it has its own vast rewards.
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Format: Paperback
*Designing Visual Interfaces* deserves a wider audience. Its promotion of visual literacy for GUI designers is a worthwhile cause. Every GUI designer, which includes most programmers these days, should read this book!

*Designing Visual Interfaces* is a "nuts and bolts" design book with lots
of examples of bad and good interface design in present-day Graphical
User Interfaces. The authors attempt grand analogies with media that
offer richer opportunities for design--posters, timetables, appliances.
Sometimes it seems that returning to the same old dialogue boxes
is a bit of a come-down in the design world, the need to shove a lot
of info into a few pixels. Nonetheless, the book has lots of good
advice. Perhaps the reason it hasn't found wider readership is
that its own printing format, using small black and white images,
doesn't do justice to the careful thought they've put into their

The authors both worked on the Open Look standard, which is not my
favorite GUI. But fortunately their book is not a brief for that
standard. And they do have some good criticism of Microsoft Windows--well merited!
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