REVIEW - User Interface Design for Mere Mortals


User Interface Design for Mere Mortals


Eric Butow



Addison-Wesley Professional (2007)




Omar Bashir


December 2009



I personally would not recommend this book to IT professionals and probably not even to university students in IT.

Lets start from the cover of the book. The front cover of the book states that it presents a Software Independent Approach to user interface design. On the back cover, the book is categorized as a User Interface Design/Software Design/Programming book. The book does not contain a single line of code and it is arguable if there is any software design in it at all.

Despite stating that the book is a software independent introduction to user interface design, web-based technologies are covered to some minimal detail where as desktop GUI development technologies like Visual Basic, Visual C++, C# and Delphi are totally ignored. The web technologies enumerated are only vaguely and implicitly categorized into front-end (browser-based) and back-end (server-side) technologies. Interestingly, the book categorises Java only as a web development technology regardless of the fact that Java is actively being used in visual desktop applications ranging from enterprise solutions to advanced military simulations

User interface prototyping has only been described with paper-based prototypes. Currently a number of GUI RAD tools are available that can help develop prototypes that provide a realistic look and feel. Executable GUI prototypes can be used in effective usability studies very early in the system development process thereby driving down the risk. In the simplest case, the use of interactive presentation tools for GUI prototyping provides better look and feel and also some initial usability testing than in case of prototyping with paper-based prototypes. Unfortunately, GUI RAD tools or techniques to develop interactive GUI prototypes have not been discussed at all.

The author does discuss some interesting topics like design patterns, principles and software postures. His categorization of websites is informative. There are also some useful tips on developing a business plan to justify usability testing and GUI development. However, this book does not contain sufficient information to allow readers to comprehensively understand characteristics of user interfaces and be able to design effective and user friendly interfaces. Unfortunately it turns out to be a complex mix of trivial and at times unrelated, inaccurate or incomplete information.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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