The Humane Interface

Nothing is more impossible then to write a book that wins every reader's approval.

Miguel de Cervantes

Oh, how true it is. For those familiar with interface design 90% of this book is review. It comes down hard on window9X/NT, but who doesn't realize that OS is bad? I've heard enough about Fitt's Law (about moving a mouse to a button, considering distance and button size) and Hick's Law (time it takes to take an action verses the number of ways to take that action).

In chapter 6-2 he gets to the Zoomworld, a really cool idea that reminds me of some of the 3D OS ideas I had a while back. The method of zooming in and out of applications and the ability to see the relationships of data is damn spiffy.

Unfortunately, he degresses shorty after into nitpicking. In 6-4-4 it's keyboard repeat delays. In 7-1-2 he complains that Visual basic is not as simple as basic. Well, duh. Then he makes a point about having the OS interface more entwined with programming (like a shell?). Right after that he moans about how much of a pain it is to have so many different types of computer connectors. Really?

It you are new to design, this is actually a good book to get you started. One thing I don't like is that in the effort for the most humane design it becomes dictatorial. Habituation may have married myself and many others to a bad interface, but we can grow out of it (shell). Maybe there is some sort of middle ground that we can find between the command line and the GUI. Some of his ideas are presented with no practical information on their implementation, this will certainly stir people to try and prove him wrong or right. This book could piss you off enough to do something. Not bad.

related link: glossary of terms


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