REVIEW - Interaction design - beyond human-computer interaction


Interaction design

beyond human-computer interaction


Jenny Preece, Yvonne Rogers, Helen Sharp



Wiley (2002)




Paul Usowicz


December 2004



quite simply a superb book

Owning a large number of books, I have various methods of organising them. One portion of one shelf is dedicated to the books that I consider special. These books are on various subjects but are all books that I will read repeatedly due to their excellent content, well written text and personal relevance (perhaps an ACCU article is brewing here!). Luckily there are only a few books in this section, which leaves enough room for this title to take its place along side my other 'classics'.

Interaction Design is quite simply a superb book. The authors know their subject and present it well. Although three separate people author the book, it was in no way disjointed and was a pleasure to read.

The book is about human-computer interfaces with a strong bias towards software. It would be wrong, however, to classify this book as 'software engineering'. It so much more than this and covers the whole aspects of human-computer interfaces including graphical user interfaces, the World Wide Web and wearable computers. Throughout the book are interviews with clever people, exercises to complete and tasks to carry out.

The book is well supported by its companion web site. It contains examples of tasks completed, links to sites of interest mentioned in the text and extras like power-point slides and case studies. This is the best HCI portal I have come across and have visited it regularly during the course of reading the book.

The preface lists various suggestions for usage of the book suggesting various relevant chapters to read dependant upon your particular needs. I would recommend that if you choose this route and read the relevant chapters suggested that you should then immediately read the rest of the book as I found no chapter lacking in useful information.

Everyone is recommended to read chapters 1 (What is interaction design?), 6 (The process of interaction design) and 10 (Introducing evaluation) with software developers also recommended chapters 7 (Identifying needs and establishing requirements) and 8 (Design, prototyping and construction). Chapters 7 and 8 were especially good with lots of common sense and good advice. As stated above, these five chapters will give you a good working knowledge but the rest of the book is worth reading as well. My software development methods are already changing for the better and I am trying to get my company to buy the book (I'm not letting mine go) so the rest of the department can read it. The book is also not limited in scope to just the software developers. Sales and marketing would learn a lot from this book and would end up requesting much more useable products.

The whole book is written with hardly any references to specific languages or operating systems making it a book that I will have around for some time and one that will not easily date. As a multi-platform developer (PC, PDA and Smartphone) I was glad to see some good advice on the need for differing interaction based upon the device being targeted. Too many people think porting to another device is simply a matter recompiling without realising the huge part that the user interaction plays. I think it will be some time before I find a better book than this on HCI (unless the authors are planning another one!). This book is definitely recommended for all software developers who target devices that require user-interaction.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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