Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

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

Rate this book

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. These principles include building only whats necessary, getting users up to speed quickly, preventing and handling errors, and designing for the activity. Designing the Obvious does not offer a one-size-fits-all development process—in fact, it lets you use whatever process you like. Instead, it offers practical advice about how to achieve the qualities of great Web-based applications and consistently and successfully reproduce them.

256 pages, Paperback

First published October 11, 2002

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Robert Hoekman Jr.

17 books36 followers
Robert Hoekman Jr is an American writer and editor and the host of the Spillers podcast and event series. His work has been featured by Fast Company, WIRED, Huckberry, Bike Exif, and others. He has won awards for writing and podcasting. He’s currently damn near finished writing his first novel.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
291 (35%)
4 stars
305 (37%)
3 stars
179 (21%)
2 stars
38 (4%)
1 star
8 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews
99 reviews50 followers
June 6, 2009
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 choices of web applications and interfaces -supported by usability studies and psychological research- and helps in giving me a vocabulary for what I constantly struggle to voice. For a person such as myself -without a background in interface design or a usability masters degree- who has fallen into the world of user interface design (and luckily really enjoys it), this kind of book (and blogs like it) has been incredibly helpful.
Profile Image for Dennis Kardys Kardys.
4 reviews7 followers
December 21, 2012
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't experience any startling epiphanies reading this, but like "Don't Make Me Think", it's so packed with useful practical guidelines that it's the kind of book you want soak up and then pass on to every designer and developer buddy you know.
Profile Image for Kurt.
71 reviews1 follower
October 9, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Irene.
91 reviews
April 2, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Emiel.
179 reviews
January 24, 2018
This book contains a collection of practical tips to improve the design of your user interface. It does not contain much information on the underlying design principles, or on how to test your design. That's not the focus of this book.

It is divided into clear chapters. Each chapter can be seen as a design principle, if you will. In each chapter, Hoekman provides numerous practical tips. These tips, unfortunately, are lost in the amount of text surrounding them. I could read the largest part of this book by just scanning the pages, which is not how I usually read books. The tips themselves are definitely useful.

I think this book is a good starting point if you have experience developing applications and you want to start learning about user interface design. The practical tips can be used the next working day. If you then want to gain deeper insights and learn more, you can pick up another book.
Profile Image for Thomas.
7 reviews
August 22, 2011
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 of use and numerous benefits.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
481 reviews
September 22, 2013
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.
62 reviews
June 5, 2007
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.
Profile Image for D.
121 reviews2 followers
May 6, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Dan Graham.
137 reviews37 followers
January 3, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Aaron M.
10 reviews4 followers
May 16, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
Author 21 books11 followers
December 17, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Dan.
6 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Igor Pascoal.
5 reviews
March 1, 2016
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.
2 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2013
I am almost through and it has lots of little interesting things in it. Good book to read if working on the web.
Profile Image for Michel.
432 reviews27 followers
January 28, 2008
Beknopt. En de moeite waard. Niet veel nieuws bijgeleerd, maar ik ben een sucker voor mooi gemaakte boekjes.
Profile Image for Nicole Califano.
8 reviews8 followers
June 7, 2008
good read for those looking to learn about current interface challenges & smart solutions/referneces. I really enjoy the author's quirky tone.
Profile Image for Moses.
122 reviews7 followers
January 21, 2009
Introduces some useful design terminologies towards the beginning of the book. But loses it favor towards the end... Quick read.
Profile Image for Khalilah.
75 reviews
January 5, 2009
A quick read that feels like a companion piece to Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think."
5 reviews1 follower
September 7, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Susan.
154 reviews2 followers
February 2, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Terry.
104 reviews3 followers
June 14, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Seth Hein.
18 reviews17 followers
September 21, 2011
An interesting and challenging look at designing web applications. The focus here is on simplicity and ease of use.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.