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The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  2,323 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews

Smart organizations recognize that Web design is more than just creating clean code and sharp graphics. A site that really works fulfills your strategic objectives while meeting the needs of your users. Even the best content and the most sophisticated technology won't help you balance those goals without a cohesive, consistent user experience to support it.

But creating th

Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 21st 2002 by Peachpit Press
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The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanDon't Make Me Think by Steve KrugThe Elements of User Experience by Jesse James GarrettAbout Face 3 by Alan Cooper100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People by Susan M. Weinschenk
Must Read UX Books
3rd out of 40 books — 56 voters
The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanDon't Make Me Think by Steve KrugUniversal Principles of Design by William LidwellAbout Face 3 by Alan CooperThe Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett
UX books
5th out of 48 books — 86 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 11, 2011 Tamara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: web, web-content, work
This book essentially dissects the process of website creation, clearly defining every element that goes into planning and implementing a website. This would have provided an invaluable visual map during our last website redesign. Rather than a tangled ball of yarn, I can now see all of the wheels and cogs fit together in a logical manner.

It seems that, of the five planes of the user experience development process (the surface plane, the skeleton plane, the structure plane, the scope plane and
Asia Hoe
Jul 03, 2013 Asia Hoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: User Experience Designers, Business Analysts, Etc.
Recommended to Asia by: General Assembly
I read this book in preparation for a class at General Assembly on User Experience Design. Excellent resource on User Experience for both designers and everyone they meet in a product's life cycle. The methodologies herein are invaluable and worth revisiting at the start of each project, and at each phase of a project. You won't find specific examples, as the book is more about methodology than application. This is helpful if you're trying to wrap your mind around what UX is, and how to go about ...more
Eric Phetteplace
Nov 02, 2014 Eric Phetteplace rated it it was ok
Shelves: lis-web
Somewhere, Nietzsche has a quote (probably directed at Kant) dissing philosophers who, rather than introduce new ideas or vectors of exploration, simply schematize already existing terms. That is, they take a bunch of signifiers and try to ground them in reality or each other.
Jesse James Garrett takes schematization to a new level in The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web, unfortunately. See, the problem with user experience is we haven't defined its constituent terms
Haider Al-Mosawi
Mar 31, 2011 Haider Al-Mosawi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: user-experience
This is a must-read book for anyone involved in web development.

It takes a holistic look at the subject of user experience and provides a very useful vocabulary for all the elements involved in user experience design.

The author provides a model that consists of 5 planes that cover the abstract as well as the concrete aspects of the user experience.

The 5 planes are:

1- Strategy (why you're building the site for you and your users)
2- Scope
3- Structure
4- Skeleton
5- Surface (the visual elements of th
Lucas Terra
Jan 04, 2016 Lucas Terra rated it really liked it
Jesse James Garrett exposes in a very clear way the essence of user experience for the web. He breaks down the ux for the web into five different planes going deep into the vocabulary and strategy for designing better experiences for our digital world.
Josh Lee
Sep 22, 2007 Josh Lee rated it liked it
The diagram that lies at the heart of the book, a layered view of user experience design, is solid. The book itself feels kind of padded, though, and I found myself skimming a lot. You might be better served by simply meditating on the diagram itself ( ), and only referring to the book if you need more explication.
Jun 15, 2011 Minah rated it it was amazing
This book defines each phrase of user-centered designs well.
Strategy(user needs, site objectives),
Scope(functional spedifications, content requirements),
Structure(interaction design, information architecture),
Skeleton(information design), and
Surface(visual design)
Mike Hales
Jan 08, 2011 Mike Hales rated it it was amazing
Absolutely essential reading if this is an area of professional or personal interest.

I try and reread this book once a year as a kind of grounding and to re-establish the key processes and steps involved in considered and effective UX design.
Philippe Heckly
May 03, 2015 Philippe Heckly rated it liked it
A basic of UX it didn't impress me as much as others. That websites have layers of meaning, interactivity and can trigger various emotions is something that perhaps more than 10 years after the book was written we now take for granted?
Apr 18, 2016 Skate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ux
A little light on content. Basically breaks UX Design info five 'planes' building from the bottom up (with each plane split into 'product as functionality' and 'product as information'):
5. The Surface Plane (Sensory / Design) - images, buttons, controls, etc
4. The Skeleton Plane (Interface Design / Navigation Design) - placement/arrangement of elements.
3. The Structure Plane (Interaction Design / Information Architecture) - Site Mapping/Card Sorting/Categorizing and how things fit together.
2. Th
Moayad Taibah
Jan 02, 2016 Moayad Taibah rated it really liked it
Shelves: ux
This is an interesting take on UX. The author explains the ux process starting from stating the business objectives to building the user interface. I appreciated that the author went for a more general process overview rather than techniques and tools of UX, specially for someone like myself who has been checking out these techniques and learning about them but without any proper structure or skeleton that addresses the utility and complementary nature each one provided to the other. It also she ...more
Graham Herrli
Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising thing about this book was realizing part-way through that it's a theory book. For the most part, I can't abide theory. I prefer writings that demonstrate their ideas with concrete principles, so I was pleased to realize while reading this book that I hadn't even noticed I was reading theory. The prose style is clear and concise enough that the pages fly by despite their abstract content.

Garrett considers five overlapping planes in website design: the surfa
Aug 24, 2008 Kelley rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Web developers and designers who want to understand UX
I just finished Andy Clarke's Transcending CSS and deciding to delve into The Elements of User Experience which I picked up because, skimming, I realized it was giving me names for what most of us are already doing.

So far, it's concise and Garrett does a nice job of making sure that a web developer doesn't leave a reading of the book with impression that user-centered design isn't connected to a much bigger discipline, human factors design. Garrett hasn't used that word -- or Computer Human Int
Bayu Amus
Dec 05, 2010 Bayu Amus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design, uxd
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Grant Patten
Jun 16, 2014 Grant Patten rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant distillation, worth it for the 'product as functionality/product as information' abstract/concrete visualization alone. Key word: PRODUCT. Let's remember that these concepts are not merely meant for websites. They can be applied to product design in general. I see this as the SEMINAL and FOUNDATIONAL text of user experience design. The UXD Bible, perhaps.
Philippe Heckly
Jun 01, 2015 Philippe Heckly rated it liked it
In my opinion Jesse James Garrett was one of the first to analyze User Experience Design and try to understand how it worked and I thank him for that. But his book doesn't create the kind of epiphany I experienced reading Donald Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things", Steve Krug's "Don't Make me Think" or Susan Weinschenk "100 Things Designers Should Know".
John Wargo
Not what I expected, but still interesting. I think if I was starting a major web design project (rather than being in the middle of one) I'd find this book useful. Still, it reinforced things I thought I already knew and will help me have a better dialog with the Marketing folks I'm working with right now.
Jun 26, 2014 Tanner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a primer than a reference book, Elements provides a valuable, if not brief, look into five fundamental aspects of UX. It also communicates the basics of project management in the context of Web design, but look elsewhere for a go-to reference on it, interaction design, or UX.
Letario Prodeo
Apr 12, 2016 Letario Prodeo rated it it was amazing
I've recently had a growing interest in the field of User Experience and Human Computer Interaction and this book was a great launching point for that field. It gave a really good idea of what work goes into the field and explained concepts in a very approachable manner.
Nov 10, 2015 Lingxue rated it really liked it
Very clear 5 elements introduction. While in terms of the waterfall of the 5 layers, I doubt if it is still suitable for today's design.

However, it is a well-illustrated design book and serve as a design process guideline.
Feb 05, 2015 Nik rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
This book succeeds in presenting a clear conceptual model of UX, especially UX in a digital context. Unfortunately, it relies a bit too heavily on the author's own theory, and would have benefitted from more real-world examples.
Momoko Price
Dec 29, 2013 Momoko Price rated it really liked it
Wonderfully concise and logical fundamentals book. Was a bit disappointed — although not at all surprised —that the chapter on "sensory design" didn't mention even one basic heuristic or guideline for effective content/copy.

The just-won't-die convention of keeping copy / content removed from UX design processes is a perpetual point of frustration for me. I love content strategy, but I am getting really tired of being brought in at the point of web-project crisis and expected to resolve strategy
Marvin Ryan Vista
Apr 06, 2016 Marvin Ryan Vista rated it it was amazing
A good overview of the overall UX design process not just for the web but for all products. A perfect starting point for anyone trapped, or overwhelmed by the many facets of User Experience Design.
Jan 24, 2012 Angela rated it liked it
If I read this a year ago, I would have awarded it 5 stars. It's still a great book and explains the basic principles of UX really well but overall, nothing was really fresh to me. It's rewarding to notice my knowledge progression from novice to competent in the academic arena of UXD.

Garrett touched on the importance of success metrics early into the book and it sparked my interest. With so much to cover in such a small time, this subject wasn't discussed in my curriculum. When applying learned
Apr 09, 2015 Kıvılcım rated it it was amazing
A must read book for ux designers. It gives you better understanding for ux process and methodology. It hasn't large scope or detailed explanation for the techniques but it is fundamental reference to understand ux elements and flow.
Mehdi Sadeghi
Nov 04, 2014 Mehdi Sadeghi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good read for software engineers and programmers and in general for anyone who wants to make their customers happy.
Apr 19, 2010 Sergey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Мнение сугубо личное, но думаю, с ним согласятся специалисты со стажем.
Книга будет интересна только новичкам или узкопрофильным специалистам. Большинство рекомендаций из области "здравого смысла", которые приобрели популярность с распространением IT технологий в массах.
Очень трудно было читать на русском - во первых, перевод если и без грубых ошибок, то все же написан слишком формальным языком и, как следствие, воспринимается в большим трудом; во вторых - мне лично очень редко приходится читать
Sameer JJ
Jun 03, 2016 Sameer JJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: design-books
Great formalization, but not much concretization. I feel like one without the other can be fruitless but hopefully this lays a foundation that could be built on.
Jan 05, 2015 Diana rated it it was amazing
Accessible, beautifully and clearly designed graphics and concepts.
Number 41 Media
2 copies - August 5, 2016

Michele - May 2, 2016
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Question? 1 5 Sep 10, 2014 05:38PM  
  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning
  • Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks
  • A Project Guide to UX Design: For User Experience Designers in the Field or in the Making
  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
  • Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research
  • About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design
  • Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services
  • Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web
  • Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design
  • Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests
  • Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design
  • Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics
  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
  • Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices
  • Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
  • Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design
  • Prioritizing Web Usability
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior

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Jesse James Garrett is a user experience designer as well as a co-founder of Adaptive Path, a user experience strategy and design firm, and of the Information Architecture Institute. His essays have appeared in New Architect, Boxes and Arrows, and Digital Web Magazine. Jesse attended the University of Florida.

Garrett authored The Elements of User Experience, a conceptual model of user-centered des
More about Jesse James Garrett...

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