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About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,904 ratings  ·  80 reviews
The three editions of "About Face" have shaped and evolved the landscape of interaction design, bringing it from the research labs into every day lexicon and development. The fourth edition of this groundbreaking book will be no less game changing.

The 4th edition of "About Face "is the most significant revision yet, with a new unique design and 4-color interior, dedicated
Paperback, 4th Edition, 720 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Wiley (first published 1995)
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,904 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Apr 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
About Face is widely considered one of the most important books ever written about Interaction Design: the design of software, websites, mobile apps, or any other digitally-mediated experience.

Alan Cooper pioneered key concepts like designing for intermediates, goal-directed design, and personas which have become cornerstones of this burgeoning profession. In these moments of the book, Cooper is nothing short of genius. He literally helped invent a new field, consequently changing how we all use
Nathanael Coyne
This book is pretty much the bible of interaction design. Covers project process, Goal-Directed Design, persona development and everything about windows, dialogs, controls, user feedback. Very comprehensive and well-presented. You can probably get away with reading the first third of it and then using the rest for references as needed for when implementing drag-and-drop interactions etc.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in interaction design.
Alan Cooper’s About Face is one of those pillars of UI/UX design, the reading of which is a rite of passage. I figured few books would be more appropriate as a capstone to my long list of design-oriented reads. It is nearly an institution in and of itself. Last night I turned the final page and ticked a pretty big 560-page book off of my reading list.

Full review at
Feb 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know the content is supposed to be amazing, but I was so bored with page after page of text and theory so I couldn't finish the book.
Oct 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a bit conflicted on this book. On one hand, it is thorough and well composed, giving an overview of almost every common UI widget out there.

On the other hand, it describes UI widgets. And a UI widget does not make a UX, no matter how beautifully it is laid out.

And as someone who has used and suffered through bad UI, I don't think I'm learning anything from tips like "don't overuse dialog boxes." It is pretty obvious why. The detailed breakdown of drag and drop and mouse / keyboard interact
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: study, design, cmd
Very comprehensive book about the world of interaction design. Wether your new or an veteran this talks about do's, donts and why of interaction design.

Furthermore Cooper also talks about how to approach and describe your user (i.e. Personas) and how to define your user's need and wants in order to translate that to your designs.

Last but certainly not least: the design principles. Throughout the book Cooper notes design principles which are very usefull.
Adam Wiggins
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design, computing
Unbelievably thorough examination of all aspects of how to design digital products, mainly software.

It's a bit of a slog, reading like a textbook. But well-worth it if you do IxD for a living. I've not found any other text that manages to work through all the core skills of this field.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the few books I know that explains how to do a UI right instead of spending all its time whining about what is wrong with UIs. Worked with Coopers on a UI and they do excellent work. On page 446/574.
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design, non-fiction
Not an easy read but I can't think of any books that go this deep into the details of interface design. Cooper's concept of 'excise' (superfluous interaction) has always stuck with me.
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential. I use this every single day of my working life.
Nicolae Racovita
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I think of it as the bible of Interaction Design - good information abstracted to set of rules, but missing the scientific evidence of reasons.
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely need this book when I'm designing some GUI thingys down the road .. Great primer on ideal workflow and frame of mind when it comes to good design though :)
Nicole Califano
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huge, weighty, and quite philisophical book on UX practices. Tough to sink teeth into, but great for keeping on desk for reference.
Michel Kuik
Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Must-have for interaction designers. Don't read it from a-z, but use it as guide you pick up once in a while.
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel like this book is extremely fucking long just for the sake of being extremely fucking long. Christ, what a slog.
Cooper certainly is one of the quintessential authors on Interaction Design and this is must-read for designers of all walks. It's an interesting read, but just a tad long-winded at times.
Summa Smiff
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main thesis of the book, which is that the ultimate success of interaction design is how well it helps users accomplish their goals, is both obviously true but also lacking in many other design books. About Face 3 has several chapters on how to research and identify user goals, explaining the persona model better than most. The rest of the book covers how to create interfaces for those personas, avoiding long lectures on typography in favor of thinking of the design holistically from the per ...more
Eoghan Hickey
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply perfect. This book, along with Kim Goodwin's Designing for the digital age, is the best place to start for aspiring interaction designers to learn about user experience design. So much has been said already in terms of praise for this book. Personally, I find the first half more interesting with the approach to research and modelling, than the latter parts going towards more detail design. A must read
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
didn't even finish it completely. I read like 70% of it. It has a few nuggest but LOTS of kak. It's really not what I expected. Starting to think that non-fiction non-biography books that are over 200 pages long are often poorly written. Eish.. Ai. I expected more after reading The Inmates Are Running The Asylum
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has some useful high level points in it, but for me it would be better if it was about half the size. A lot of the pages are taken up describing well known idioms, and less with proposing examples of how to do things well.

It is primarily aimed at big budget software, with a large design team (as opposed to the small team that I work in, that has no designers).
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most exhaustive book I've read on design, would skip the latter third of the book.

What was most useful is the process of design and the principles of design which can obviously be improved on but at the core is timeless.
Kane Rogers
Long and a bit rambling, but some good stuff in there.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Bible for interaction design. It's a bit academic but if you're really into this topic you won't regret picking it up one bit.
Ryan Van Seters
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: (soft) Designers
About Face
The Designers Bible

This, the fourth edition of About Face is far and away the best collaborative effort of Authors Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, Christopher Noessel .
Alan Cooper

Collectively, these four Masterclass Professionals have not only put the tradecraft of Soft-Design under the spotlight, but in many ways created the spotlight as well.

As Alan Cooper mentions in the introduction, software V.U.E. (Visual User Experience) was original created by ID (Industrial Designers)

Tom Panning
This is an opinionated "bible" or "end-all be-all" style of book. It covers everything from the methods that you use in research and design to chapters on the specifics of dialogs and menus vs. toolbars. Full disclosure: I tend to prefer books that focus on a particular topic and are shorter.

Alan Cooper professes his opinions unapologetically, but that's to be expected. If you're not familiar with his opinions, start with The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy
David Parmelee
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About Face 3 is an extremely useful text on interaction design, mostly on the theoretical and historical side. After reading the whole book, I looked up every entry in its roughly 30-page index to get a more solid understanding of all topics presented.

After finishing that crazy project (which took a few minutes a day here and there for a year), I'm currently reading Designing for the Digital Age, another book from someone else at the same company. Designing for the Digital Age has a lot of grea
Ardavan Mir
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Couple of points to consider before reading this book:

1) The book could have been way shorter and less repetitive on some topics. The book never ends.
2) The book invents some unnecessary new terms from old ideas which to me seem very unreasonable. Why do we need to make things more complicated?
3) The book is not reader-friendly at all with its wide lines, and the use of very thick glossy paper which makes it too heavy to hold. Forget about reading it on your commute.

Being honest, there are also
Doug Farren
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a LOT of information in this book (which is why it took so long for me to read it). There are a lot of really good suggestions scattered around the books many pages. I must admit that I skipped over a few of the beginning chapters because I typically write code for a very well-defined audience and I do not have to do any sort of in-depth analysis of my target population. If you're a programmer and involved in writing programs to be used by a large number of people, then this book should ...more
Carl Gauger
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book. If you are involved in Interface Design at any level, I don't see how you can live without this book--or at least having read it once. There is a newer edition out, but there is enough value in the earlier ones that, if you can pick them up cheap and used, it will be well worth your money and time. It is a real hands-on book--with enough high-level thoughts and enough street-level application to make anyone happy--especially the users of your product. The appendix alone, ...more
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  • Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research
  • Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices
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  • Designing Social Interfaces
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  • A Project Guide to UX Design: For User Experience Designers in the Field or in the Making
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  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
  • Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World

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