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Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design
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Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  637 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews

Designing the Obvious belongs in the toolbox of every person charged with the design and development of Web-based software, from the CEO to the programming team. Designing the Obvious explores the character traits of great Web applications and uses them as guiding principles of application design so the end result of every project instills customer satisfaction and loyalty

Paperback, First Edition, 256 pages
Published October 22nd 2006 by New Riders Press (first published October 11th 2002)
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Design Basics Index by Jim KrauseThe Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanThe Zen of CSS Design by Dave SheaThe Elements of Typographic Style by Robert BringhurstD.I.Y. by Ellen Lupton
Best Design Books
30th out of 82 books — 62 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
30th out of 48 books — 85 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,482)
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Jun 06, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it
There have been many experiences over the last year and a half in my job at a user experience/interface design company where I've struggled to voice the logic and reasoning behind design choices and suggestions. A lot of what is logical to me is just that. Logical. I just KNOW it - yet, communicating the WHY and HOW of my why I think what I think has not come easily to me. Which is why I read books, blogs, and articles like this.

This book presents the reasoning behind design decisions and choice
Dennis Kardys Kardys
Dec 21, 2012 Dennis Kardys Kardys rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book. It covers a lot of territory, so there was definitely a healthy dose of reminding me of things I already knew, while also continually introducing new concepts. The author writes in an extremely accessible tone, with enough personality and sarcasm to keep it from feeling dry. I kept a highlighter nearby while reading this one, and looking back, I'm pretty sure almost every page is marked up with good, quotable takeaways. If you're deep into UX already, you probably won ...more
Oct 08, 2010 Kurt rated it liked it
This should have been 3-5 long blog posts, and in style and grammar, it was. The content is good and worthy, but so fluffed to fill pages that I often had to re-read sections to get the essence, then stop reading before the fluff filled my head and pushed out the useful content.

Worth reading, but beware the fluff.
Aug 21, 2011 Thomas rated it really liked it
Shelves: ux-dev
Hoekman provides a great framework for approaching design and the continual process of refinement. Considering this text is now 4 years old, Internet years aside, some references remain true. Specifically web form design with inline validation. No matter how sophisticated applications become, data entry will always be essential for business and personal web interfaces. This book is an endless champion for simple intuitive design, creating useful applications that are powerful because their ease ...more
Igor Pascoal
Mar 01, 2016 Igor Pascoal rated it really liked it
This book introduces some of the main things you have to keep in mind when designing web applications. It's great for beginners. It could probably have less words but it's a quick read. Seems to only be available as an ebook now.
Sep 22, 2013 Tiffany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: professional
It had some good concepts. Much of it felt like common sense, but I still found myself recalling specific pieces of the advice while at work, so it must not have been too common. I think more examples, especially visual examples would have been useful. It's one thing to say it, and another thing to illustrate it with a before/after type of example. It also seemed like he was somehow recompensed by Blinksale, as often as he mentioned them.
Aug 28, 2011 Minah rated it really liked it
It's very good quick read and guidance to create user expereince design. The core things are requirements, reduction, and regularity of what you want to build. It's easy to say but this book explains really well how to do it. As an IA/UXD, chapter 4. Support the User’s Mental Model and chapter 5. Turn Beginners Into Intermediates, Immediately are very useful to have better sense to improve user experience.
May 05, 2012 D rated it really liked it
The dedication gives you a sense of the book: "This book is dedicated to anyone who has ever used a Web application and resented the experience." I'm working on a Web-based ordering system which needs to be "intuitive" and "intuitive" doesn't happen on its own. So I'm looking for (and finding) inspiration in this book.
Dan Graham
Jan 03, 2011 Dan Graham rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
Although this book has a few gems in it, it is for the most part exactly what the title suggests, but too much so. Most of the suggestions in the book were either too obvious or they were too specific and categorical. Probably a worthwhile read if you’re in the business of usability but probably not otherwise.
Jun 05, 2007 Ping rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Web application designers and devlopers
A great book on making your web apps more focused, pleasant for the user, and for lack of another word... more "obvious". Lots of screenshots of good examples of web apps, tons of advice, well-organized, with bits of humor thrown in. It's slim, but it packs a punch. Definitely will be sharing this with my coworkers.
Apr 02, 2010 Irene rated it it was amazing
Very good and concise. Lots of theoretical information - zero implementation details (so if this is what you want, look elsewhere). Nothing mind-blowing, but sometimes the true talent of an author is gathering everything together in one spot so you can clearly see the patterns.
May 23, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it
Common sense approach to web interface and application design. Designing with the user in mind. Poka-yoke "mistake-proofing". Eat your own dog food. Create Personas. Elevation is reduction. Kaizen...eliminate waste. The 5S Approach: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.
Dec 17, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, design
This was actually recommended to me as a book with great ideas about design (I'm not a web designer/developer), and it is. The examples all relate to web applications, but the points he makes can easily be translated to other design/style projects. I learned quite a bit.
Aaron M
May 16, 2016 Aaron M rated it it was amazing
This is book is a great guide and a notable resource. It really is a good entry point for developers or designers looking to improve their UX skills. Good break downs and plenty of further reading fodder.
Feb 02, 2011 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: UX people
Good book, good concepts, too many extra words - padded a bit maybe to make it longer? It's a quick read though, and you'll walk away with some new tidbits, which really makes it a 3 1/2 star.
Jun 13, 2011 Terry rated it really liked it
Font of the book was sans serif, so was a bit hard to read @ times. But too the point, well-explained, and applicable to my own environment at work. Will be flipping through this again and again.
Sep 07, 2010 April rated it it was amazing
Quick and easy read to get your introduced to good web applicatiod design. I especially liked the hamburger analogy when asking users what functionality they would like to have.
Kal Ström
Jag gillar en hel del av principerna i boken, men den tappar i trovärdighet genom att bara hänga på hajpade Web 2.0-applikationer + egna produktioner.
Nicole Califano
Jun 07, 2008 Nicole Califano rated it it was amazing
good read for those looking to learn about current interface challenges & smart solutions/referneces. I really enjoy the author's quirky tone.
Aug 03, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing
I am more looking for web design tips, but there are some really good tips about interactive design in the latter part of the book.
Jan 21, 2009 Moses rated it liked it
Introduces some useful design terminologies towards the beginning of the book. But loses it favor towards the end... Quick read.
Seth Hein
Sep 21, 2011 Seth Hein rated it really liked it
An interesting and challenging look at designing web applications. The focus here is on simplicity and ease of use.
Aug 12, 2013 Shawna added it
Recommends it for: Yes
I am almost through and it has lots of little interesting things in it. Good book to read if working on the web.
Jan 27, 2008 Michel rated it really liked it
Beknopt. En de moeite waard. Niet veel nieuws bijgeleerd, maar ik ben een sucker voor mooi gemaakte boekjes.
Jan 17, 2010 Amber rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: user interface designers, web developers, designers
Shelves: authors-i-know
Love this one. I really wish more UI folks would pick it up and implement it into their designs...
Jan 04, 2009 Khalilah rated it liked it
A quick read that feels like a companion piece to Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think."
Dec 06, 2011 Jaireh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: interfacedesign
Great book for anyone willing to have a try at web-app creation
Megan Kudzia
Feb 27, 2011 Megan Kudzia rated it really liked it
This book is fun-to-read and extremely helpful so far.
Dec 05, 2013 Reichart rated it liked it
Good information badly presented... which is meta-funny.
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  • Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks
  • Designing for the Social Web
  • Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices
  • Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions
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  • Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
  • Designing Web Navigation
  • Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests

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Robert Hoekman Jr has authored nine books and penned hundreds of articles for a range of publications, including Fast Company and WIRED. He is the cofounder of Spillers, Phoenix's premier short fiction storytelling event; a columnist and contributing editor for motorcycle culture and lifestyle magazine Iron & Air; and a regular Arts & Culture writer for Downtown Phoenix Journal. Besides wr ...more
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