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About Face, Edition 3

In any field, if you expand your view to know all the ecosystem around you it’s beneficial.

Davide Casali

If you are a developer, a product owner, or manage a development team, much of the input is going to be about product design. It is very useful to understand a bit about a good design process, so you can better ask questions and help refine the design based on technical constraints.

About Face, by Alan Cooper, is a great book to start with.

I highlighted much of it on my Kindle!

Here are some quotes:

Good design makes users more effective.

Customers, although they might be able to articulate the problems with an interaction, are not often capable of visualizing the solutions to those problems.

One of the most powerful tools designers bring to the table is empathy

One of the most dangerous practices in product development is isolating designers from the users because doing so eliminates empathic knowledge.

narrative is also one of our most powerful creative methods.

What would a helpful human do? What would a thoughtful, considerate interaction feel like?

All ideas are broken down into discrete sections, with lots of detail and examples on how to implement this with your customers.

Goal-Directed Design combines techniques of ethnography, stakeholder interviews, market research, detailed user models, scenario-based design, and a core set of interaction principles and patterns.

This process can be roughly divided into six phases: Research, Modeling, Requirements Definition, Framework Definition, Refinement, and Support

The book discusses the mindset required to be a good designer:

in anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away

Next time you find yourself crowing about what cool interaction you’ve designed, just remember that the ultimate user interface for most purposes is no interface at all.

The first part of the book focuses on processes to elicit a good design. The latter part of the book covers specific examples found in user interface design and attempts to encode common patterns.

I found the first section much more valuable to how I think about designing a new product. The latter parts I felt were obvious, although that is perhaps their importance.

Well worth a read.

Note: Bret’s Magic Ink is a useful counterpoint to About Face.