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About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,656 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
This completely updated volume presents the effective and practical tools you need to design great desktop applications, Web 2.0 sites, and mobile devices. You'll learn the principles of good product behavior and gain an understanding of Cooper's Goal-Directed Design method, which involves everything from conducting user research to defining your product using personas and ...more
Paperback, 610 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 1995)
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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 Garrett100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People by Susan M. WeinschenkAbout Face 3 by Alan Cooper
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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
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Apr 30, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jun 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 22, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Adam Wiggins
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Essential. I use this every single day of my working life.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Nicole Califano
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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
Shelves: design
I feel like this book is extremely fucking long just for the sake of being extremely fucking long. Christ, what a slog.
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Eoghan Hickey
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 22, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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
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
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
Jules C
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
The first portion describing design process was enlightening in that he identified many issues I've encountered in real life. I would've preferred this portion alone to be separated into its own book, along with case studies illustrating his ideas instead.

Overall, the book covers many topics that designers should be aware of but falls short in actually explaining how to apply such methods. I find it a bit too academic and vague to be useful on real projects. Nevertheless, it's a good primer for
Apr 08, 2011 rated it liked it
I think I liked the previous editions more than the current edition.

Part of the issue is I've been practicing the craft for a long time and the earlier editions were a reassurance I was on the right path and offered a few insights. By this third version some of the things I like in earlier versions were edited or not there (mostly used them as background to point others to). As a reference this version hasn't been picked up much at all, but that is just me. It is a (one of many and may not be i
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic introduction to the Cooper method of user experience design. He's obsessive and exhaustive, and the book is well written and engaging. My only complaint is that his hatred for software engineers rings loud and clear, which makes it hard to recommend to recalcitrant engineering teams.
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Great book- underlining the basic principles to be taken care of while designing a digital product.
This book isn't a 'how to design digital artifacts' but instead it elaborately explains what steps or methods to be taken while taking conscious design/product decisions.

A must have book in every interaction designer's shelf.
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  • Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services
  • Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design
  • Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research
  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning
  • Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
  • Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices
  • Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks
  • Designing Interactions [With CDROM]
  • The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
  • Designing Social Interfaces
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior
  • Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests
  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
  • Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design
  • A Project Guide to UX Design: For User Experience Designers in the Field or in the Making
  • Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences

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“Define what the product will do before you design how the product will do it.” 1 likes
“Usability’s strength is in identifying problems, while design’s strength is in identifying solutions.” 1 likes
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