Humane Interface, The: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
The next revolution in user interface design -- by the original creator of the Apple Macintosh project.
- Why today's GUIs have reached a dead end -- and what to do about it.
- What makes a great interface: state-of-the-art research and breakthrough insight.
- The book every user interface designer will be talking about!
The honeymoon with digital technology is over: millions of users are tired of having to learn huge, arcane programs to perform the simplest tasks; fatigued by the pressure of constant upgrades, and have had enough of system crashes. In The Humane Interface, Jef Raskin -- the legendary, controversial creator of the original Apple Macintosh project -- shows that there is another path. Raskin explains why today's interface techniques lead straight to a dead end, and offers breakthrough ideas for building systems users will understand -- and love.KEY TOPICS:Raskin reveals the fundamental design failures at the root of the problems so many users experience; shows how to understand user interfaces scientifically and quantitatively; and introduces fundamental principles that should underlie any next-generation user interface. He introduces practical techniques designers can use to improve their productivity of any product with an information-oriented human-machine interface, from personal computers to Internet appliances and beyond. The book presents breakthrough solutions for navigation, error management, and more, with detailed case studies from Raskin's own work.MARKET:For all interface design programmers, product designers, software developers, IT managers, and corporate managers.
Father of Apple's Macintosh project presents his science-based approach for any HCI course.
Product Author Bios
Jef Raskin (www.jefraskin.com) is a user interface and system design consultant based in Pacifica, California. Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Motorola, NCR, Xerox, Ricoh, Canon, McKesson, and AT&T all number among his clients along with dozens of less-well-known firms. His articles have been published in over forty periodicals including Wired, Quantum, IEEE Computer, and the Communications of the ACM. He is best known for having created the Macintosh at Apple and the Cat work processor for Canon.
"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 today's 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 built on a scientific basis, presenting just enough cognitive psychology to link the interface of the future to the experimental evidence and to show why that interface will work.
Raskin observes that our honeymoon with digital technology is over: We are tired of having to learn huge, arcane programs to do even the simplest of tasks; we have had our fill of crashing computers; and we are fatigued by the continual pressure to upgrade. The Humane Interface delivers a way for computers, information appliances, and other technology-driven products to continue to advance in power and expand their range of applicability, while becoming free of the hassles and obscurities that plague present products.
Click below for Web Resources related to this title:
71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
A practical, insightful leap forward, a must-read,
This review is from: The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems (Paperback)I recommend this book wholeheartedly and not only for the marketplace that includes application designers and web page developers, but also for the many who may be curious about the fundamentals of human-computer interaction. The book succeeds in providing a basic education in interface design principles. For me, an editorial director in magazine publishing working with a growing web department, the book was fascinating and stimulating. I now recognize interface elements that work well, or that do not, much more ably.
The book describes a set of elements that coalesce into a next-generation interface that could revolutionize the way people use computers. Jef does a brilliant job reducing quantification of interface activity to readily understandable terms. And for those who want a deeper, philosophic, scientific look, Jef very briefly delves into information theory to show how to evaluate the ultimate efficiency of drop down menus, error messages, and the like.
Jef... Read more
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Not 'New Directions' but valuable; annoying in places,
This review is from: The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems (Paperback)This book doesn't really contain "New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems" like it says on the cover. In fact, Jef's directions for designing interactive systems mostly revolve around his designs for the Canon Cat, which date from 1984-1987. Different, and a departure from what's become the norm (the WIMP, or Windows Icons Menus Pointers graphical user interface), but not new.
Readers may be annoyed by Jef's continued insistence throughout the book that the Cat contained such wonderfully efficient interface ideas, but there are some solid ideas presented. Highlights of this book include Raskin's introduction and description of Locus of Attention (approximately: involuntary focus), which may be as important for designers to consider as users' conscious focus. The concept of 'monotony' in interfaces is also interesting to consider as Raskin describes it, because he asserts this is a path that allows users to form efficient automaticity and focus on... Read more
158 of 188 people found the following review helpful
"Outside the box" isn't the same thing as "good",
By A Customer
This review is from: The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems (Paperback)I found a lot to disagree with in this book. Mr. Raskin recommends that we dispense with GUI fluff that obscures more than it illuminates (not necessarily a bad idea) and replace it with a system in which your content IS the interface. While typing this review, for instance, I could type the word SAVE, select the word SAVE, and invoke a command to interpret the selected word as a command, thus saving the text to disk. Or type EMAIL (right here in the middle of this sentence!), select the command (and somehow also select the sentence), and tap a key to send the sentence off as an email. Or I can type an arithmetic expression into my text and evaluate it on the fly (which as we all know, most users need to do urgently and often). Truly out-there stuff, and I think that's admirable, but I also think it's wrong. Many of the book's proposed computing paradigms are based on the notion that most files are text files, when in reality, at least in today's systems, only a tiny percentage of... Read more
› See all 58 customer reviews...
Praise For Humane Interface, The: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
"Jef Raskin Launched the Macintosh project at Apple, so he knows from man-machine interfaces. Now he's written a book that explains in detail how to distinguish good interfaces from bad ones. Raskin, who also designed the underappreciated Canon Cat computer, doesn't base his arguments on personal preference, or appeal to the authority of successful products. Instead, he teaches scientific techniques for measuring the mathematical efficiency of interfaces and then comparing those interfaces with the limitations of the human body and mind. The result is thinking that flies in the face of conventional wisdom, and yet seems irrefutably correct. Raskin shows why programs that have a beginner and an expert mode aren't easier to use; why icons can make an interface harder to understand; and why the wacky, unbridled customizability of Microsoft Word and Excel backfires more often than not." - Simson Garfinkel, Wired Magazine, September 2000 issue, page 310, in the "StreetCred" section
"Raskin...doesn't base his arguments on personal preference, or appeal to the authority of successful products. Instead, he teaches scientific techniqes for measuring the mathematical efficiency of interfaces and then comparing those interfaces with the limitations of the human body and mind. The result is thinking that flies in the face of conventional wisdom, and yet seems irrefutably correct." -Wired Magazine, September 2000
“Jef Raskin has written a wonderful and thought-provoking book on human factors. He starts with a clean slate and shows how products can be easier to learn and use.” -www.xpprogramming.com
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Importance of Fundamentals.
2. Cognetics and the Locus of Attention.
3. Meanings, Modes, Monotony, and Myths.
6. Navigation and Other Aspects of Humane Interfaces.
7. Interface Issues Outside the User Interface.
Appendix A: The One-Button Mouse History.
Appendix B: SwyftCard Interface Theory of Operation.
"I don't know what percentage of our time on any computer-based project is spent getting the equipment to work right, but if I had a gardener who spent as much of the time fixing her shovel as we spend fooling with our computers, I'd buy her a good shovel. At least you can buy a good shovel."
Creating an interface is much like building a house: If you don't get the foundations right, no amount of decorating can fix the resulting structure. The Humane Interface reexamines the cognitive foundations of human-machine interaction to elucidate a crucial aspect of why interface designs succeed or fail. One finding is that present-day graphical user interfaces, such as those of the Windows and Macintosh operating systems, which are based on an architecture of operating system plus application programs, are inherently flawed. A different approach is required if computers are to become more pleasant and if users are to become more productive. This book describes some of the fundamental flaws in user interfaces and describes solutions for overcoming those flaws.
Although the techniques covered in The Humane Interface apply to a wide range of products--including web sites, application software, handheld personal data managers and other information appliances, and operating systems--this book does not present a survey of the field of human-machine interface design. Rather, this book strikes out in new directions while also reviewing those established parts of interface design that are needed in the development of the new material.
If we are to surmount the inherent problems in present human-machine interfaces, it is necessary that we understand the teachings of this volume; it is not, however, sufficient. Many important aspects of interaction design are not included here because they are well covered in the literature. This book is intended to complement existing--or to be a prolegomenon to future--treatments of interface design.
The audience for this book includes
- Web designers and managers who want to give their sites a special ease of use that appeals to audiences and helps customers to find the information they need and to buy what they want
- Product designers and product managers who need to be able to create web sites or products that will win and retain customers by offering ease of use and ready learnability and by having a first-rate feature set
- Corporate managers who correctly insist on making products that have low maintenance and that reduce the need for help desks
- Programmers who do interface design--and who doesn't these days?--and who want to understand more of the factors that make their work most useful
- IT (information technology) managers who need to know which interface features will minimize their costs for training and which interface designs are likely to aid productivity
- Consumers who want to learn what to hope for in terms of pleasant interaction with computers and other equipment, and what is wrong with the way today's software is designed
- Computer science and cognitive psychology students who want to understand what lies behind heuristics of interface design
Finally, this book is for human-machine interface researchers, who will find that they will never again be able to view interfaces in quite the same way they did before reading The Humane Interface.
THE HUMANE INTERFACE
2000 05 26
p. xiv add Troy May to the acknowledgments
p. 4 the reference to Section 5-6 should be to Section 5-3
p. 6 the reference to Section 4-8 should be to Section 4-3
(Thanks to Martin Portman.)
p. 22, last paragraph. "you can ensure that the user is not confirming..." should have been
" cannot ensure that the user is not confirming..."
But this makes a poor sentence. Better still is
"you cannot protect against a user developing a habit of confirming without reestablishing the decision as the locus of attention, even by making the required confirmation action unpredictable."
p. 23 The paragraph beginning "Requiring this kind.." is missing a last sentence
"While preventing the user from forming a habitual response, such measures also create a new locus of attention; the user may forget to think about the correctness of their prior response altogether, thus frustrating both the purpose of the confirmation and the user."
(Thanks to Rich Morrin for pointing out this error and the previous one.)
p. 88 There is an error in the calculation, it does not affect argument or its conclusions, but for exactness note these changes:
"The probability for any one of the first two types of messages is (0.125 / 200) = 0.000625"
"The probability for either of the first two types of messages is (0.125 / 100) = 0.00125"
In the next paragraph change
0.0067 to 0.012
10.3 bits to 11.4 bits
p. 89 In the second paragraph change "10 bits" to "11 bits".
(Thanks to Cam Mitchner for noticing this error)
p. 115 After the sentence ending "can be typed." it should say:
"The convenience is highly dependent on the ergonomics of the Command keys."
(Thanks to Jon Bondy for this observation.)
p. 117 The following paragraph should be added after the paragraph ending with the word "object":
When a transparent message box would disappear too soon, say when it appeared while you were typing so that the next keystroke would banish it, an attractive alternative is to have the message box gradually fade, like the Cheshire cat, giving the user time to notice it. It is also important to have a document, perhaps entitled "Message Log" where a copy of all messages produced by the system are stored serially, so that they can be inspected at any later time.
(Thanks to Jon Bondy for reminding me about the importance of a message log.)
p. 137 In the illustration, part (c), the insert portion of the cursor should be to the right of the letter "p".
(Thanks to Eric Blossom for carefully thinking through the illustration.)
p. 168 In the first paragraph of 6-3 "advises" should be "advised".
At the end of that paragraph add,
"Later versions of the manual are not so dogmatic about using icons, but the damage had already been done."
p. 172 "Apple_s guidelines state" should be "Apple_s early guidelines stated"
The last sentence of that paragraph (it_s missing a comma, anyway) should be:
"The tendency to overuse graphics has been an impediment to good interface design."
p. 186 In the last two examples, the open single quotes should be close quotes. This is an interesting error in that it shows how an editor facility intended to be helpful, namely "smart quotes" can create an error.
(Thanks to Elisabeth Riba for pointing out this typographical error).
p. 217 The name "Linzmeyer" should be changed to "Linzmayer."
This book includes free shipping!
Get access to thousands of books and training videos about technology, professional development and digital media from more than 40 leading publishers, including Addison-Wesley, Prentice Hall, Cisco Press, IBM Press, O'Reilly Media, Wrox, Apress, and many more. If you continue your subscription after your 30-day trial, you can receive 30% off a monthly subscription to the Safari Library for up to 12 months. That's a total savings of $199.