Jan's Top Ten List of Books on Human-Computer Interaction
Here are the books I consider the most valuable reads for people interested in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This is a very personal list, although you will find that quite a few people in the field of HCI will know the titles below, and often consider them essential reading. The list is ordered with the most important titles first.
|Alan Dix, Janet Finlay, Gregory D. Abowd, and Russell Beale, Human-Computer Interaction (3rd Edition), Pearson, 2004. Currently the best, most well-rounded book I know to teach introductory HCI if you need to limit yourself to a single title. Technical enough, good breadth, not too fuzzy for a CS curriculum, written by world-leading HCI researchers, with a web site that includes resources such as sample programs, slides, etc. Only minor downside: could use an update to catch up with the very latest developments.|
|Ben Shneiderman and Catherine Plaisant, Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (5th Edition), 5th ed., Pearson Addison-Wesley, 2009. Best overall reference book for all areas of HCI, providing an introduction and great up-to-date pointers for further reading to most sub-fields of HCI research and practice, especially different interaction techniques. His Golden Rules of User Interface Design and sample questionnaires for user testing are very useful in an introductory class. Unfortunately, the companion web site costs money after an initial trial period.|
|Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things, Basic Books, 2002. A classic text from 1988 with an updated introduction that, while some of the technologies described or envisioned seem somewhat outdated now, still provides the best introduction to the spirit of good human-centered design. A not too technical read with hilarious stories of badly designed everyday technology, it provides some very useful basic models for human cognition, such as the Seven Stages of Action. This book also introduced the fundamental concept of affordances to HCI. Changed my view of the world of technology around me, and is probably the best initial brainwash for engineering students to "get" user-centered design.|
|Jeff Johnson, Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules. Jeff has become famous for his GUI Bloopers books which have great examples of bad UIs that make you laugh until you see one that you did yourself too. This new book is a great and thorough introduction into how to do interfaces that focus on human needs. For practitioners who design and implement interfaces, or for students looking for hands-on guidelines and examples.|
|Alan Cooper, About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design, 3rd edition, Wiley 2007. Cooper is a long-standing expert in interaction design and the father of Visual Basic and the concept of "personas" to model users. This book gives a great overview of a professional interaction design process, from qualitative product research to scenarios, requirements, to the design itself. Of course, it also explains how personas work. The book also drills down into design details such as selection, dialogs, menus, alerts, undo, etc. This is a book for practitioners striving to implement or improve user-centric design in their company.|
|Alan Cooper, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity. Another Cooper book. This one is older, but it is still an excellent read for both software developers and managers to understand why interface design is so crucial, and why programmers aren't good at it (but still try). Because it talks about fundamental differences in the psychology of programmers versus interaction designers, it doesn't go out of date as quickly as more technical titles. I love his definition of "homo logicus". This stuff isn't covered in his newer book, so both make an excellent combo, starting with this one to understand the problem before moving on to About Face to read about the solution.|
|Bill Moggridge, Designing Interactions, MIT Press, 2008. A truly beautiful "coffee-table style" book on interaction design, also covering product and industrial design of digital technology (Moggridge is a founder of IDEO). It has wonderful short essays about seminal digial product designs, from Engelbart's mouse, to the Mac and Palm, to Google and other internet services, as well as articles on digital product design theory. My own Sweet Spots and Baroque Technology article was based on one of the theory articles. Special treat: video interviews and chapters are available for free, on a weekly rotation, at designinginteractions.com.|
||Jenny Preece, Yvonne Rogers, and Helen Sharp: Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, 3nd ed., Wiley, 2011. This title focuses more on the process of designing good user interfaces, and is less technical, but excellent and up-to-date in the area it addresses. The has slides, case studies, and other materials.
|Bill Buxton, Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Interactive Technologies), Elsevier, 2007. Similar to Moggridge's book in style, this book focuses on the early stages of product design. It also includes very interesting stories of key interactive products, such as Apple's iPod. And of course it's written by one of the long-time key players in HCI. There is also an accompanying workbook, Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook.|
|Terry Winograd (ed.): Bringing Design to Software, Addison-Wesley, 1996. An excellent and very well edited collection of contributions from key players in HCI, from Kapor's Software Design Manifesto to Rheinfrank's Design Languages. Its particular value also comes from the profiles that link chapters and give an insider's view of how some of the most seminal UI designs came to be, from the Xerox Star to VisiCalc and HyperCard. Terry has some information about his book online, and I used it with great success when I had the fortunate opportunity to teach an introductory HCI class in his program at Stanford in 2002.|
|Apple Computer, The Apple Software Design Guidelines, updated regularly. OK, I'm a Mac head, but then many HCI people are just because Apple has such a good sense of doing the right thing when it comes to user interface design. These guidelines have been around since the 90's, with several new editions since then, and especially Part I ("Application Design Fundamentals") contains excellent, system-independent, hands-on advice for anybody developing interactive software (not just on the Mac), especially desktop applications. And it's free! Apple's developer website has the latest version both online and as downloadable PDF. I often recommend this as a quick read for engineers that just want the bare essentials to help avoid major UI design catastrophes.|
So that's my current top 10 list. When I come across an outstanding new title, I tend to kick off another one that has become dated or is the least crucial if missed. I figure it's more important to restrict myself to those books I think are really outstanding than bother you with additional titles that don't really have that special something.
As Nietzsche said:
"What good is a book if reading it doesn't carry me beyond every other book I have ever read before?"
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