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About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,279 ratings  ·  98 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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 ·  3,279 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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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
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. ...more
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.
Emanuel Serbanoiu
It took me a while to read this book but felt that it propelled me to the next level (even after 6 years of being a designer). The most important lessons for me were about personas, pliancy, idioms, and excise. Throughout the book, I found lots of great explanations and many great points of view that will come in handy for me in the future.

I would recommend this to any designer with more than 2 years in the field.

Definitely a book that is worth reviewing once in a while.
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
Adam Wiggins
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computing, design
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.
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
I feel like this book is extremely fucking long just for the sake of being extremely fucking long. Christ, what a slog.
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, design
A foundational read for learning what exactly makes digital products/software "user-friendly" -- not only for designers. Can be dense, but the information is worthwhile; it's interesting to see how this edition has aged, but many of its principles (e.g. direct manipulation, goal-directed design, the power of idioms over metaphors & implementation-based design, etc.) continue to hold true for intuitive software UI design. ...more
Hiran Venugopalan
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must-read.
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
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.
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 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. ...more
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.
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Essential. I use this every single day of my working life.
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. ...more
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, design
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. ...more
Nicolae Racovita
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 :) ...more
Summa Smiff
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ux-ui
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
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book needs to take its own advice and design a better interaction with the book itself. Heading levels weren't distinct enough for me, there was a reference to a previous cover, and the tone/writing was somewhat uneven but mostly ... curmudgeonly. I can't tell you how many people asked me what "Abo UTF Ace" even was just from glancing at the cover. However, the authors do make up for it with lots of valuable information - this is a pretty great introduction to Interaction Design; aside from ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I totally agree that this book is too long. The same information would have fitted on far less pages. And it is no easy read also. It took me quite some time to get through it (originally the 2nd edition to be precise). But nevertheless it is an extremely valuable source of information and inspiration concerning user experience design. First of all this is the goal directed design process that is explained in detail. But on top of that are many other interesting topics that are discussed, like i ...more
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 ...more
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's one of those good index books. You pick up for reference and it's has a thought starter on any topic that might cross your mind.

I wish it had more examples of application but it's a good book to read early on. Especially as a non designer peeking into the subject matter.

It's not too creative like some design books get. As someone who like th HCI Way of looking at interaction, this is a nice in between.
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 ...more
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).
Arnold Petersen
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Welcome update to the edition 2 with much fresher views and of course revised topics with more insights however the second half of the book does not maintain the same quality and substance. I personally felt that it's lacking references to some of the rules discussed in the book, I will however recommend to any UX practitioner as it's a must read to be honest. ...more
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.
Iván Frantar
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A bible you should keep handy if you are a product designer/manager/owner or developer building digital products. Never read this book cover to cover, but I had it for years and always come to it for some nuggets of expertise.
Charlie Höglin
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ux-design
Informative, useful! Sometimes lightens up the mood with jokesy image captions, but could stand to add a few more since it gets quite dense at times. For a theory book it is still not too bad denseness-wise.
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