Interaction design involves more than just clicking or tapping on an object. One must consider the context and environment, emotional appeal of the design, the goal and behaviors of the user, the user’s affect, the microcopy for instructions, the responses or states resulting from every action and so on.
As our tools and devices allow us to get more advanced in interactive design, we can take some lessons from web, product and user experience design. It’s not that the lessons are perfectly aligned with the work we do, it’s that by reading a few of these books, we will expand our concepts of what design is, what to consider and how to do it. I’ve selected ten books that I think have good lessons for learning experience designers. In alphabetical order by title.
- About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, & Christopher Noessel.
This is a well-respected book in the field of interaction design. It takes the reader through a detailed product design process, covers important concepts like behaviors and postures (how a product presents itself to users), and looks at important topics, like patterns, affordances and interfaces.
- Designing Interfaces by Jennifer Tidwell. This is an excellent reference for designing all kinds of user interfaces, though I wonder if it is due for an update as it was published in 2011. Within each topic, such as navigation, lists, getting input and going mobile, the author covers design patterns. The book also has chapters on user behaviors, information architecture, and aesthetics.
- Don’t Make Me Think Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug. You may have a previous version of this wildly popular book. If not, Krug expounds on the first rule of usability, “Don’t make me think.” The book is focused on web and mobile design, usability testing and accessibility. There are gems here for everyone who designs for humans.
- Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction by Jenny Preece and Helen Sharp. Although I’ve only seen the previous edition of this book, I can vouch that it is a comprehensive text for those who are serious about studying interaction design. It covers everything from the cognitive, social and emotional aspects of design; to data analysis and interpretation; to prototyping; types of evaluation; and everything in between.
- Microinteractions: Designing with Details by Dan Saffer. While listening to an interview with this book’s author, I became convinced that it is the small interactions that often make or break the user experience. Yet, how often do we overlook these microinteractions while we design? The book’s overall message is that designers should pay attention to both the big picture (features) and the little details (often within features). Dan, I would love to have you on my podcast so if you’re reading this, please reply to one of my three emails.
- Mobile Design Pattern Gallery: UI Patterns for Smartphones by Theresa Neil. This is another book that discusses interface design patterns but in this case, it’s for smartphones. Excellent if you’re thinking about mobile learning, apps or performance support.
- Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences by Stephen Anderson. This book is for you if you’re interested in a psychological approach to understanding the triggers of human behavior. Anderson dives into how the aesthetic and emotional response to a design impacts usability.
- Simple and Usable Web, Mobile and Interaction Design by Giles Colborne. Simple and Usable is a like a bit of fresh air. It takes a unique perspective on interaction design by focusing on ways to simplify user experiences and why this is attractive and important.
- The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. This was the groundbreaking book that popularized the notion of emotional design. That a person’s visceral and immediate reaction to a product influences his or her experience.
- Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler. This design classic is an encyclopedia of design concepts, many of which you’ll recognize because they are based on cognitive psychology. Here are a few of the concepts that are covered: Closure, Color, Comparison, Highlighting, Layering, Mapping, Mental Model, Priming and Prototyping. Get the idea?
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