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The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems

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Deep thinking is rare in this field where most companies are glad to copy designs that were great back in the 1970s. The Humane Interface is a gourmet dish from a master chef. Five mice! --Jakob Nielsen, Nielsen Norman Group Author of Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity This unique guide to interactive system design reflects the experience and vision of Jef Raskin, the creator of the Apple Macintosh. Other books may show how to use todays widgets and interface ideas effectively. Raskin, however, demonstrates that many current interface paradigms are dead ends, and that to make computers significantly easier to use requires new approaches. He explains how to effect desperately needed changes, offering a wealth of innovative and specific interface ideas for software designers, developers, and product managers. The Apple Macintosh helped to introduce a previous revolution in computer interface design, drawing on the best available technology to establish many of the interface techniques and methods now universal in the computer industry. With this book, Raskin proves again both his farsightedness and his practicality. He also demonstrates how design ideas must be bui

233 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2000

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About the author

Jef Raskin

2 books11 followers
Jef Raskin was an American human-computer interface expert best-known for starting the Macintosh project for Apple Computer in the late 1970s.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
21 reviews4 followers
February 14, 2009
In short, I really enjoyed this book. It's a great exploration of what is possible in user interface design. Raskin (who died in 2005) put a lot of thought into the study of cognitive engineering or "cognetics" and how this applies to creating humane software. His general belief, one I've always shared, is that computers don't have to be hard to use in order to serve the needs of users (humanity) well. This study led him to quite a few interesting conclusions. Here is a small sampling from notes I kept on my BlackBerry while reading this book on the bus. Pardon the sporadic nature of the notes:

Some examples of Raskin's thoughts on the basic requirements for a humane interface:

1. A computer should never allow a user's data to come to harm by action or inaction. (With an acknowledgment to Arthur C. Clarke's Laws of Robotics)
2. A computer shall not waste your time or require you to do more work than is necessary.
3. Users should set the pace of interaction.
4. We must master the ergonomics of the mind if we want to design interfaces that work well.

In the beginning of the book he explains that in order to design humane interfaces, it is necessary to be very keenly aware of what the human mind can and can't do in most cases. He has a notable example on page 11 regarding knowledge that you know but are not conscious of. Later in the chapter he suggests that having more than one way to do things is more detrimental than one would expect. due to shifting attention away from the task to the method of doing the task. But how do you balance this against the fact that there is not a good "one size fits all" approach? Later in the book he suggests that a humane interface that is well designed should work for both the naive and the expert. There should be a small core set of commands that a beginner can use. Once mastered, they can then explore more complex commands at their leisure.

Page by page notes:

Pg 27. An interesting comment on the fact that when someone is having trouble on a computer, that warning messages may go unnoticed. Perhaps this explains the tendency of users to frustrate "techs" by not reading the screen. Are techs better at reading more input?

Pg 39. His analogy of the missed details in UI design being similar to a violinist playing the occasional random wrong note is entertaining, accurate and quite useful. Store that one for future use.

Pg 53. Quasimodes are interesting. The caps lock key is modal. The shift key is quasimodal. Because you have to actively hold it down, it is less error prone. This is due to the continuous physical feedback.

Pg 63. It is interesting that he suggests that an interface that requires the user to remember that a feature exists renders that feature invisible.

Pg 65. Hilarious comment on how UI design has gone wrong if it requires bright colors and big letters.

Pg 66. Interesting argument against backwards compatibility. Basically that it never actually works. People wind up needing to learn the differences between the imperfect emulation of familiar interfaces along with new features that are incompatible with the old ones. No expensive retraining is "saved" as the users wind up needing to learn new things anyway.

Pg 68. The positive trait he calls monotony is interesting too. He suggests that by having only one way to effect a process, you take away any possibility that the user will be distracted by choice.

Pg 68. Ok... Assuming that we accept Raskin's notion that a modeless and monotonous UI is ideal, what about users who feel that the UI is wrong? There's always someone with a "better idea".

Pg 69. Interesting point made about the fallacious idea of beginners vs. experts where users are concerned. Instead he looks at everyone as equals and points out that even experts don't know every feature of an application no matter how advanced their use is.

Pg 70. Depending on the environment most people's status as beginners is far shorter than their status as long term habitual monotonous users. Once they've habituated to an application there should be no need to go changing settings or reconfiguring anything. They should only be using the application to do work and not worrying about altering the UI. So... Does that mean that people who are "power users" are really playing more than working? Interesting...

Pg 93. Fitts and Hick's laws. Fitts states that the farther away a cursor is from a selection or the smaller the selection, the longer it will take to move the cursor. Hick's law says that the more choices a user has, the longer it will take the user to make a decision. This is an important consideration in making choices about what size is too small for on screen objects. Raskin's later solution is to use a (Zooming Interface Paradigm) ZIP which is a sort of plane that you can zoom towards or away from and on which your work sits or hovers over. In this way, objects do not have a fixed size on the screen and can therefore be much easier to navigate by simply zooming in or out of objects.

Pg 104. A vocabulary or taxonomy of user actions and system operations is needed if you expect to properly describe what your interface is to do and in turn design a usable interface.

Pg 112. He proposes a different approach to selection allowing for multiple selections in named levels. This is to prevent the problem of a new selection clobbering the original one. Especially useful when you are making a complex selection. He also proposes an interchange command which would swap the contents of two selections. Easier than current cut and paste methods.

Pg 114. The dragging gesture in dragging a text selection has two meanings. The first click and hold allows one to select text. The second on the same selection will now move the text. This interferes with the notion of subselections. It also confuses new users.

Pg 115. Raskin points out the need for a grab function on a mouse to do away with scroll bars. He then says this particular need is indicative of the need for hardwar and software to be designed together.

Interesting quote: "a humane-interface feature must be both accessible to the naïve and efficient for the expert, and the transition from one to the other should not demand retraining".

Pg 126. Incremental search is better than delimited search. I think incremental search is becoming more common now.

Pg 132-135. In his discussion of selection of text, he wants to make the more advanced concepts of using other means of getting to and end or start point easier by adding LEAP keys. This confuses me a bit since I'm not entirely convinced that this would be much easier than doing it in VI. When I learned to do it, I was surprised that it never occurred to me before even though it is pretty elementary.

Pg 143. A very notable reduction of the function of a computing device is made: "...all that a computer does involves the content that you provide or obtain and a set of operations you wish to perform on the content".

Pg 144-145. The proposal of selling commands instead of applications is intriguing on a number of levels. Read this section to understand why. Hint: upgrades are no longer monolithic, but instead per command. This leads to higher quality software and improved security.

Pg 147. Raskin on applications vs. System settings: "Their behavior, when the system does not have the correct parameter settings, ranges from genteel to uncouth to vandalism".

Pg 148. The transparent message that Raskin proposes is already in use when you go to full screen in a flash video app like Youtube and the "Press Escape to exit full screen" message pops up.

Pg 149. Always replace "intuitive" with "familiar" since that is the truth of software that no one acknowledges.

Pg 151. A very good example of the fallacy of "natural" or "intuitive" interfaces regarding a new user of a mouse. It's easy to learn but not natural or intuitive. No artifact is.

Pg 169. A humorous account regarding the palm facing hand icon that means "halt". To Greeks, it means "here is excrement in your face".

Pg 175. I like his notion of error messages and needless dialog boxes being needless. Note the example at the bottom of this page.

Pg 176. I'm not entirely convinced that having a text list of addresses for contacts is a good idea. The main problem with a list of names is that the user still has to remember how they entered the data. Rob vs. Robert vs. Bob.

Pg 194. Very interesting point made about the cognitive unconscious and programming. He sheds light on the differences between your cognitive conscious and unconscious when you're writing code, if you're a developer. There is a distinction between consciously thinking about the problem and how to solve it, and how to do it with computer programming. This disconnect is largely responsible for bugs and UI design flaws.

He also states that development environments are also at fault for the creation of inhumane interfaces due to the lack of support for comments which discourages documentation. He believes that all programs should start off a fully developed natural language comments as to how the software will complete its work. This has the added benefit of providing content for a user's manual as well as allowing the programmer to have a clear idea in mind of what the software should do. All of this should lead to the development of better software and interfaces.

NOTE: The book overall presents a lot of ideas on how software could be significantly improved at all levels from development to end use UI factors.
Profile Image for Erika RS.
705 reviews184 followers
December 24, 2013
The Humane Interface was a worthwhile read. I recommend it to those interested in UI design. However, I also recommend that you take the book with a large grain of salt. Raskin gives good background on HCI and cognition, but he also writes about UI design decision that are his own untested or semi-tested ideas as if they are on par with the well established ideas he mentions. He makes many good points, but I often disagree with his justifications. Following are some points that particularly bug me.

Modes: Raskin is rabidly, religiously against modes. Anyone who knows my editor of choice (vim) might guess that this is something I do not agree with. Raskin argues that modes are universally bad, but he then goes on to say that what a mode is varies from person to person. His definition of a moded interface is something like, "an interface is moded when the same action does different things in what the user perceives to be the same context". This is somewhat valid. The mantra of HCI is that what really matters is the user's perception. However, it introduces a chicken and egg sort of problem. Users define different contexts by how they want to use them but also by the modes that are given by the UI designer. Furthermore, Raskin ignores that the real world is moded. When driving, the users focus is on getting from point A to point B not on moving levers and hitting peddles. However, a vehicle behaves differently when you hit the gas peddle depending on whether its mode is neutral, reverse, or 1st gear.

Modes can be damaging, but they can also be useful. They increase what one can do with a limited set of commands. Modes are okay when disjoint (no command performs the same action in different modes) and clearly marked. When a user does switch modes, it should be because they are changing the locus of their attention. By this definition, unsurprisingly, the modes in vim are mostly okay. The two primary modes are almost completely distinct. The modes are not clearly marked. The mode change corresponds with a task change (editing structure verses entering text), but it can be easy to change modes accidentally.

Raskin also discusses noun-verb verses verb-noun interfaces. The former occurs when the user selects and object and then applies an action. The later occurs when the user selects an action and then selects an object to apply it to. He gives three justifications for why noun-verb is better:

1. The object is what the user is manipulating and is the locus of their attention. Therefore, making it the primary actor in the action is better. I agree with this point.

2. A noun-verb paradigm has only one attention switch from the noun to the verb, then you are done. The verb-noun paradigm has two attention switches, from the noun to the verb and then back to the noun to select it. This may be true in theory, but I would guess it is not true in practice. I would guess that, in practice, even with a noun-verb paradigm, the attention switches back to the same noun once the action is performed, either to verify that the action was correct or to perform further manipulations on that object.

3. To cancel a noun-verb action after a noun is selected, no action is needed. To cancel a verb-noun action after the action selected, a cancel button is needed. Therefore, noun-verb is less work. This is is wrong. Raskin is applying noun-verb thinking to a hypothetical verb-noun environment. In a true verb-noun environment, no canceling would be needed. Suppose a user selects and action and then decides that she does not want to perform that action. She does so simply by not choosing an object. Now, consider the next action she performs. Since, this is a verb-noun system, she will still have to choose the action before the object. Thus, she just selects a new action and then select the object to apply it to. Raskin's critique would be valid in a mixed verb-noun, noun-verb system. If a user chose an action and then decided not to apply it to an object and then decided to perform a noun-verb action, the user would have to cancel the action to be able to select the noun.

That's enough of noun-verb, verb-noun excitement. Raskin was often inconsistent. He thinks we should get rid of file systems because they impose a one-size-fits-all system on the user. He said, "one advantage of filing information as you wish is that the structures were not dictated by the systems designers, who may have ideas different than yours." However, Raskin claims that users should not be able to redesign, i.e., customize, interfaces. He never justifies why users are qualified to design file systems but not qualified to design interfaces.

Okay, that ranting felt good. Raskin's book was interesting but frustrating at times. He makes good points about simplicity and about considering the users locus of attention (hint: it's their task, not the interface). However, he tends to wander into the realm of fancy and provide inadequate justifications.
Profile Image for Ben Haley.
58 reviews13 followers
March 7, 2010
Notes on the book the Humane Interface by Jef Raskin

The humane interface was great. Jef's leadership on the Macintosh project and the Cannon Cat design gave him the kind of credibility and clarity that only experience bring. Decisive and unapologetic without being arrogant, Jef paints a vision of a grand interaction between humans and computers founded on the principals of human cognition and the possibility of design.
His central focus is our ability to manipulate and search through text, which is the most efficient mode of human computer interface. He shows how habit formation demands a modeless interface, how text search can and must be instant, and how the file structure of documents is an unnatural tyranny in the organization of computer documents.
Following are the main points that Raskin made:

1. Users will forget sensory details in < 1 second after being exposed to them if they do not commit them to memory.
2. Multiple options to do the same task inhibit habit formation.
3. People are only conscience of one things at a time, all our other behavior is automatic and habitual.
4. Avoid states and modes, these conflict with habits by responding differently to the same behavior.
5. If you insist on modes, they should be actively maintained, like in the case of holding down the shift key.
6. Avoid user customization of interfaces. Users are generally bad designers.
7. We are all blind to information outside our locus of attention. You can ask 'would a blind user be able to use our interface' to determine if you are asking for split attention or relying on hidden modes.
8. Do not allow commands to affect areas outside the user's locus of attention. They will not not notice these side-effects.
9. The distinction between expert and beginners is a false dichotomy. Rather any particular operation is known or not. Experts are no better at performing unknown operations than beginners.
10. A program should interact with its user on the smallest meaningful unit of input. For example a text search should respond letter by letter.
11. Return all settings to their original state after a program or operation has been performed, except those that were explicitly designed to be changed.
12. Do not deliver messages that the user cannot act on. If you tell a user they must click "I agree" before proceeding it will do nothing but annoy them.
13. Design commands rather than applications. Applications are too frequently redundant. Paint applications support text inputs while text application support drawing. Instead one could design good paint and text commands and make them available all of the time.
14. 'Intuitive' is more often familiar. An untrained mouse user often picks it up rather than rolls it on a table.
15. Icons are typically harder to decipher than text. If you will use icons, combine them with text.
16. Use < 7 colors to distinguish color coded items. Less than 4 is best for distant objects.
17. Text is a sufficient input. It is fast and available, users seldom need to fill out elaborate forms or make complex mouse motions. Pure text is often the most efficient.
Profile Image for Oliver.
6 reviews
February 17, 2021
To me there are two sides of Usr Experience Design. The one side is the process-side with personas and user story mapping and prototyping and usability testing. And then there are some rules and principles that need to be applied or at least considered. The Humane Interface is about the later. Jeff Raskin was among the first to look this way at computer interfaces, coming from a time when the mouse was a radically new input device. Although the book is 20 years old it is still relevant because the human mind works the same now as it worked then. For example, there Is still only one thing at a time we can focus our attention on and switching contexts takes a surprising amount of time. Modes lead to errors because humans simply forget which mode they’re in. And this is the basic idea of the Humane Interface: An interface is humane if it is responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties.
Also covered are quantification with the GOMS Analysis and Fitt’s and Hick’s law. This may go deeper than most UX Designers need to go. Still, I think there is not much in it that is no longer relevant these days. Some examples of poor interface design are still present today. Some ideas are perhaps still too radical. But that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to think about them.
Profile Image for Sarah Sammis.
7,180 reviews215 followers
June 26, 2007
The Humane Interface has been sitting on my shelf for seven years. I bought it when I was starting my first salaried job in web design thinking I'd have more control over the site I was hired to help redesign. Boy was I wrong! Since I didn't need the book, I let it sit unread until this year. I was finally inspired to read it as part of the Non-Fiction Five Challenge. Although it wasn't part of my official list, I've been having so much fun reading non-fiction that it seemed appropriate.

The Humane Interface tries to find the most efficient way to balance the needs of two different types of users: the habitual and the novice. The habitual user needs efficient ways to handle tasks but flexibility to handle changes in routine. Meanwhile, the novice needs an interface that is easy to learn and obvious enough to handle the tasks at hand. While both users are being courted, the interface should also stay out of the way of whomever is using it.

All that is good and practical advice. When Raskin begins giving examples of good computer interfaces things become muddled. Now for a man who helped design the Macintosh and me a huge Mac geek, I would expect to agree more with his ideas of what makes an interface good but I don't. I like having my files as separate entities. I don't mind having to switch programs to send email. What is wrong with drag and drop?
5 reviews15 followers
September 10, 2018
Clear and fun read on how to create better interfaces than those we are currently (unfortunately) habituated to (some fun screenshots https://twitter.com/stephtwang/status...). This book is strongly against modes and is skeptical of some of the interfaces born out of PARC, including the windows overlapping on a desktop metaphor that Raskin argues are modes in disguise. The computer mouse is also a non-obvious way of controlling the computer, and using the small cursor to navigate text is a slow and error-prone process due to Fitts's Law. I appreciate the book going through useful methods of quantifying interface design choices, and I anticipate as I use my day-to-day software I'll be thinking a lot about the deficiencies and improvements towards more humane interfaces.
Profile Image for Dan.
21 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2011
Raskin made some great contributions to user interface design during his time at Apple. I freely admit that, and am thankful for that work, as I use a Mac every day.

In this book, however, he went in a pointless direction. The system he describes, based on one never-ending document that you simply jump around within, struck me as something close to insane. I live in text files and command-lines, but that model of use for an average person would be absolutely terrible.

I was really disappointed by this book. I thought it would be forward-thinking, particularly in our new web-based world. But it seemed to mostly want to go back to the DOS / Apple II world.
Profile Image for Anatoly Gladky.
102 reviews6 followers
December 12, 2018
Проще — лучше. Надо переодически закрывать глаза на существующие решения и думать “абстрактно”. Описывает как просто взаимодействовать с компьютерной оболочкой. Например, как с полотном с общим интерфейсом. Отказаться от показа файловой системы. Больше взаимодействия с пользователем. Простой поиск файлов. OS X постепенно идет по этому пути.
Profile Image for Anton Shanaurin.
249 reviews11 followers
January 13, 2023
Несмотря на то, что с момента публикации уже прошло семнадцать лет, эта книга во многом востребована до сих пор. Насколько я могу оценить это как пользователь. Немодальность и монотонность, существительное-глагол и численные методы оценки интерфейсов - замечательное начало погружения в изучение человекоориентированных интерфейсов.
147 reviews1 follower
October 19, 2017
While this is a book that may seem overtaken by the many changes in design since 2000, the principles are sound and should be revisited by current interface designers.
Profile Image for Reda.
2 reviews3 followers
January 8, 2019
One of my favorite books about software and user interface design.
Profile Image for Corey Jewett.
4 reviews
April 3, 2020
Becoming very dated, yet much of Raskin's opinions are still applicable it at least relevant today. With reading if User Experience is something you care about.
324 reviews1 follower
November 30, 2021
It has some good points but becomes extreme at times where I tend to disagree more than I agree. Interesting read though nontheless.
54 reviews4 followers
November 16, 2009
If one were to pick any GUI book to read, it should be The Humane Interface. Jef Raskin, credited as the creator of the Apple Macintosh Project, has laid out a very radical view as to the shortcomings and successor of the WIMP interface. Though radical, his views are incredibly compelling.

Raskin recommends discarding the word intuitive when describing an interface. Raskin comments that the only intuitive interface is the nipple, all others are learned. In other words an interface is only deemed intuitive if it is similar to interfaces encountered previously, and thus habituated.

Along with habituation, Raskin's other tenet is the avoidance of modality, particularly message boxes and confirmation boxes. Message boxes leave the user with no choices and thus should not be modal and interrupt the user. Confirmation boxes simply confirm an action. Raskin argues it is better for the user experience to instead allow the ability to undo if possible.

Though many of his recommendations are radical, several of his ideas have appeared posthumously in new products from Microsoft, Apple, Google, and others.

The ribbon interface in MS Office and the exclusion of the personalized menus is an indication of realizing the importance of habituation and a reduction of modality. In the ribbon, menu items do not move depending on usage as they did in the habituation breaking personalized menus. Instead the items in the ribbon are no longer modal and are viewable while editing. While many users complained initially about the ribbon because it broke habituation from previous incarnations, it is definitely a more efficient interface in the long run.

The pinching on the Mighty Mouse was also a feature mentioned in The Humane Interface, as well as the ability to zoom via pinching that is found in the iPhone.

Though instrumental to the Macintosh project, Raskin eschews usage of the mouse because it is modal. It requires the user to shift their hands from the keyboard. Instead he prefers a text box that can interpret commands. This idea is found in the likes Quicksilver, Google Search Box, and even the Google homepage itself.

Definitely recommended for anyone designing user interfaces.
Profile Image for Patrick.
42 reviews5 followers
February 24, 2009
Enjoyed this book, mainly because I hate horrible human/computer interfaces. However, the topics covered were kind of hit-and-miss for me in terms of my interest. For instance, not terribly interested in selection patterns, especially text selection with a cursor. While Raskin has some interesting ideas, I feel like some of the existing metaphors are just burned into our brains so deeply, it will be difficult to change. On the other hand, there were a lot of references to "mice", including what you could do with other buttons, but frankly the day of the mouse seems to be past us. I get around pretty good these days on my multi-touch enabled MacBook touchpad, and of course hand-held devices rarely have anything close to a mouse.

The book did instill a deeper hatred for scroll bars for me. Hate. Need to figure out how to get rid of those atrocities.

Overall, highly recommend the book. Illuminating.

Looking him up in Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jef_Raskin - I hadn't realized that he died in 2000, or that his son is somehow involved in the Ubiquity plugin with Mozilla.
35 reviews
December 5, 2016
When I read this book (must have been around 2001) I thought it to be one of the best books I had read on Interface design. The section on Modes was particularly good. Raskin, who (according to book blurb) was the "creator of the MacIntosh project," offers a deeply thoughtful reflection on principles of designing interfaces. One of the things I picked up from this book is an awareness of the waste of time and attention that occurs "interstitially"--between actions (you know--when you're waiting for something to happen). Even though the time periods involved are very small, the accumulative loss in terms of time, and the breakdown in action flow, have tremendous impact. Sometimes I wish I had never been made aware of it--it annoys me greatly. Raskin makes you long for something better in computer interfaces

(not that that's all that hard).
Profile Image for Shiri.
100 reviews42 followers
June 15, 2012
One of the best books on usability, this is at once an idealistic and a down-to-earth book.
Raskin, one of the original designers of the Macintosh, defines what it means for an interface to be "humane", and then teaches us how to go about designing such an interface. What is a locus of attention, and why do humans have difficulties with modes?
Raskin discusses the limits of human behavior according to cognitive psychology, and how this should fit into interface design. The book is peppered with interesting anecdotes explaining what's wrong with current systems and what a truly humane system would look like.
It also explains why the current development methods will not get us there, and why a large leap must be made before we can have humane interfaces in our computers.
Profile Image for Isscandar.
93 reviews2 followers
August 28, 2013
The Humane Interface del fu Jef Raskin è un classico testo sull'interfaccia uomo macchina.

Raskin fu il padre dell'interfaccia del computer Apple Macintosh.

Il punto di vista di Raskin era, ed è ancora, innovativo; le sue idee, se applicate, renderebbero l'uso del computer più piacevole e produttivo.

Però questo libro non è di facile lettura: i capitoli sono troppo lunghi, l'inglese è spesso troppo letterario e certe volte manca una logica chiara su dove siano trattati certi argomenti.

Alla fine della lettura si rimane amareggiati nel constatare quanto i nostri computer e le applicazioni che tutti i giorni usiamo siano ancora così lontani da quello che Raskin descrive.

Profile Image for Isaac.
6 reviews
March 6, 2012
Although some of the specific interface ideas described in this book are already dated, the premise -- that the human should be the central consideration of interface design -- is quite sensible. Raskin's focus on quantitative measures and qualitative testing, as well as his regard for human attention, memory, and psychology, give his advice added weight. The book could stand to be a bit more rigorous in its scholarship, and Raskin would have done well to spend less time describing pet interfaces, but on the whole the book is a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to design products humans will want to use.
Profile Image for Logan Murray.
1 review1 follower
April 5, 2013
Jef Raskin was a brilliant man, and truly cared about usability and human interface. His passion really shows through in this book, which should be considered a bible for anyone interested in human-computer interaction and user interface. The principles this book teaches us are timeless abstract ideas that apply to any system and any interface. Yes, there are some specific examples of interfaces based around keyboards or mice, but the true ideas of habit, locus of attention and modes shine through no matter what technology they are being applied to. A must-read for anyone designing user interfaces.
Profile Image for Miska.
42 reviews14 followers
January 21, 2010
What is wrong with windows, dialogs, icons and other graphical user interface components we computer users have grown so accustomed to that we no longer feel the pain or see how much better it could and should be. This book opens your eyes.
It is not clear to me that the suggested ideal graphical user interface with no files or applications is really usable, but if science is anything to go by, we should give it a chance. If there are sound principles behind the design decisions, it is very likely that the solutions will work in practice.
24 reviews7 followers
December 16, 2013
Some interesting ideas. Especially for the time it was written (2000). Some of the ideas are present in current mobile interfaces. E.g. that when you open an App on your iPhone, you first are presented an image of the last state and in the background the App is loaded (which was already used in the canon cat).
But parts of the book are unnecessary long-winded. If you want to have a shorter introduction into human cognition and how it applies to interface design, there are better books.
Profile Image for Azamat.
329 reviews13 followers
March 30, 2013
Я не смог дочитать книгу до конца, потому что она очень скучная и рассчитана именно на специалистов. Осилил около половины, но начал засыпать уже в начале. Книга изобилует замороченными юзабилити-тестами, формулами, расчётами, какими-то долгими размышлениями и т.п. Я не уверен, что любой дизайнер, который работает с интерфейсами сможет с интересом это прочитать. Поэтому, если вы не работаете в компании, которая занимается именно юзабилити, то, вероятно, вам не стоит её покупать.
Profile Image for Aneel.
330 reviews9 followers
February 9, 2010
A disappointingly large amount of this book is devoted to Raskin selling the reader on features of his interface for the (failed) Canon Cat computer. There is some interesting material about how to evaluate interfaces, and some interesting ideas about task-focused computing (as opposed to os/application-focused computing).
Profile Image for Teo Sartori.
20 reviews3 followers
May 5, 2012

Good, clear discourse without the harping over the same few principles that so many of this kind of book is prone to. Sadly many of the innovative suggestions are still not part of our daily user experiences despite the fact that those suggestions that have been implemented have become invaluable.
November 20, 2012
Principles described in this book are not applicable to nowadays entertaining web and game design trends. This book is more about effective task-oriented professional interfaces, such as nuclear power plant operator's panel. This book describes how to help users make their work faster and reduce errors, not about how to make customers pay.
Profile Image for Hoby.
62 reviews1 follower
August 11, 2008
It was fairly good, especially for historical reasons. I didn't like how repetitive it was, and I differ greatly with Raskin's narrow-mindedness on 'text' being everything that matters. After reading this I realized I'd graduated beyond his school of thought.
Profile Image for Neville Ridley-smith.
932 reviews9 followers
October 24, 2013
A lot of great ideas in this book. You can see some of the concepts only just now coming into use on mainstream systems.

For example, it shows examples of a Zooming User Interface, something that has finally been implemented somewhat in iOS 7.
Profile Image for Jan.
20 reviews2 followers
February 28, 2016
A classic book from the creator of Apple's Macintosh project. It makes case for quantitative interface evaluation methods and offers many novel approaches to interaction design. Some of them are currenlty being realised and some still wait to be exploted. Definitely worth reading.
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