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The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
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The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,006 ratings  ·  44 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 8th 2000 by Addison-Wesley Professional (first published 2000)
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Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Erika RS
Dec 24, 2013 added it
Shelves: owned, software
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 ...more
Ben Haley
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 manipul
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Sarah Sammis
Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was ok
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 Huma
Stephanie Wang
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Clear and fun read on how to create better interfaces than those we are currently (unfortunately) habituated to (some fun screenshots 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 ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books about software and user interface design.
Corey Jewett
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Tommie Haag
Nov 30, 2021 rated it liked it
It has some good points but becomes extreme at times where I tend to disagree more than I agree. Interesting read though nontheless.
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computer-books
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
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Carl Gauger
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 interface ...more
Logan Murray
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 throu ...more
Dec 14, 2009 rated it liked it
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 likel
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
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).
Teo Sartori
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it

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.
Askar Baybuzov
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ux
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. ...more
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ux
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. ...more
Neville Ridley-smith
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technical
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.
Feb 28, 2016 added it
Shelves: ixd
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. ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Beau geste!
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
interesting historic info and thinking of potential paths for future...however a bit disapointing considering the hype
Oct 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
A good read on the fundamentals of HCI. Especially liked the chapters on modeless software, using zoom based interface. Interesting to see many of these paradigms being used in mobile apps.
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This books shows alternative way of what user interfaces can be. Highly recommended
Dave Paola
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Every person responsible for creating software needs to read this book.
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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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“...задача дизайнеров заключается в том, чтобы создавать интерфейсы, которые не позволяют привычкам вызывать проблемы у пользователей. Мы должны создавать интерфейсы, которые, во-первых, целенаправленно опираются на человеческую способность формировать привычки и, во-вторых, развивают у пользователей такие привычки, которые позволяют упростить ход работы. В случае идеального человекоориентированного интерфейса доля участия самого интерфейса в работе пользователя должна сводиться к формированию полезных привычек. Многие проблемы, которые делают программные продукты сложными и неудобными в использовании, происходят из-за того, что в используемом интерфейсе «человек-машина» не учитываются полезные и вредные свойства человеческой способности формировать привычки.” 1 likes
“Норман (1983) указывает три метода предотвращения модальных (т. е. связанных с режимами) ошибок:
1. Не использовать режимы.
2. Обеспечить четкое различие между режимами.
3. Не использовать одинаковые команды в разных режимах, чтобы команда, примененная не в том режиме, не могла привести к неприятностям.
Из приведенных трех методов только первый позволяет полностью избежать модальных ошибок. Что касается второго метода, то, как мы могли уже убедиться, он не всегда работает. Третий метод не сокращает количество ошибок, но позволяет уменьшить их негативные последствия.”
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