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Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development

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Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development


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  • Comprehensive coverage of user-centered design—From fundamental topics to a high-level description of a user-centered process.
    • Presents a complete overview of user interface design and development from beginning to end. Ex.___

  • Practical rules of thumb.
    • Provides students with useful hands-on tips they can use in the classroom or in actual design situations. Ex.___

  • Process-based and example-based structure.
    • Allows readers to see how the topics fit in real-world design situations. Ex.___

  • Single consistent example throughout the book.
    • Allows students to focus exclusively on the topic being presented. Ex.___

  • Cross-hardware platforms and styles—(GUI, Web, PDA).
    • Exposes students to a range of design techniques. Ex.___

  • Full set of user interface techniques—Applicable to each phase of design and development.
    • Provides readers with an essential reference guide for user interface design and development. Ex.___


  • Copyright 2002
  • Dimensions: K
  • Pages: 400
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-091296-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-091296-1

The complete, practical handbook for effective UI design, development, and usability engineering.

Using extensive practical examples, the Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development illuminates today's best practices for user interface design, usability, and user-centered development. Robert J. Torres introduces user interfaces from three points of view: the user, the developer, and the system. Next, he introduces a complete user-centered UI development process, beginning at the highest level and then drilling down to each phase of the lifecycle. For every stage, Torres offers clear principles, specific guidelines, and practical heuristics for self-assessment. Coverage includes:

  • Planning, user/task analysis, and user profiling
  • Conceptual design, high-level design, and detailed design
  • Simulation and prototyping
  • Implementation, evaluation, iteration, and deployment
  • Risk management in user interface development
  • Choosing the optimal tools for building and managing user interfaces
  • Understanding the role of managers and project leaders in UI development

Whether you're a developer, project manager, usability specialist, IT manager, software customer, or researcher, Practitioner's Handbook for User Interface Design and Development will be your definitive resource for building great user interfaces.

Sample Content

Table of Contents



1. Introduction.

A Project—Keeping Things Real. A Challenge. Causes of Software Project Failure or Success. An Approach to Processes. An Approach to Solutions. Best Practices. The Remainder of the Journey. Back to the Project. References.

2. User-Centered Design Through Delivery.

Key Principles for Being User Centered. Back to the Project. References.

3. Understanding People.

Ergonomics and Human Factors. Ergonomics and Human Factors of Software. Sociological Ergonomics. Implications of Software Design and Development. Back to the Project. References.

4. A User-Centered Product Team.

The Ergonomics of Software Development. Implications of Software Development. A Different Perspective on the Team Model. Required Development Skills. An Approach to Skill Building. Skills for Managers. An Analogy. The Project and a User-Centered Product Team. References.

5. Popular UI Styles.

Graphical User Interface (GUI). Web User Interface (WUI). Handheld User Interface (HUI). Application Layer of a Software UI. Object-Oriented Uis. Implications of UI Styles on the Project. References.

6. Participatory Methods.

Techniques for User Participation During Planning. Techniques for User Participation During Requirements. Techniques for User Participation During Design. Techniques for User Participation During Construction. Techniques for User Participation During Product Evaluation. Techniques for User Participation During Postdeployment. Involving Users in the Project. References.

7. A Word About Tools.

Software. Hardware. Facilities. Materials. Tools needed for the Project.


8. Planning a UI Design and Development Effort.

Planning a UI Design and Development Effort. Schedules and Iterative Processes. Staffing, Skills, and Other Resources. Planning for the Major Usability Factors. References.

9. Requirements.

Key Features. Requirements-Gathering Approach. UI Requirements. Requirements for the Project. References.

10. Users, Their Work Environment, and Tasks.

Understanding a Product's Users, Work, and Environment. Methods. Example Questions. Users, Tasks, and Environments for the Project. References.

11. Conceptual Design and Architecture.

Vision Setting. Distributing the Components of Work. UI Architecture—A Very High-Level Design. Conceptual Design for the Project. References.

12. Principles, Guidelines, and Style Guides.

Good Things to Do—Principles, Standards, Guidelines, and Style Guides. Some Definitions. Prescriptive Style Guides. Prescriptive Solutions for Common Problems. Prescriptive Style Guide Development. Useful Techniques. A Management View. Principles and Guidelines for the Project. References.

13. Mockups, Simulations, and Prototypes.

Definitions. Goals. Design Instantiation Techniques. Organizational Considerations. Throw-aways. Misconceptions. Back to the Project. References.

14. Usability Evaluation.

Evaluation Goals. Types of Evaluations. Preparing for an Evaluation. Conducting an Evaluation. Data Evaluation. Developer Participation. A Word About Desk Checking. Back to the Project. References.

15. Iteration.

Prerequisites. Finding the Big Hitters. Defects, Keepers, and Trade-offs—Techniques and Diagnostics. Short-Term and Long-Term Effects. Follow-Up Analysis. Rapid Turnaround and Optimization. Organizational and Technical Considerations. Back to the Project. References.


16. High Level Design.

Setting Context within a Development Cycle. Definitions and Design Input. OO Components. Design for “Desktop” Behavior. Design a UI Flow. Design the Major Screens—Features, Data, Content, and Commands. Design the Major Dialogs. Installation, Print, and Other System Features. Back to the Project. References.

17. Specification Techniques.

The Needs and Challenges. Specification Approaches. Levels of Specification—Conceptual, High Level, Detailed, Implementation. An Outline—In the Beginning, Middle, and End. An Approach for Projects. Back to the Project. References.

18. Low-Level Design.

Details! DETAILS!! DETAILS!!! Designing the Details—Sizing, Focus, Cursor Placement, Graying, and More. Things Hard to Predict. A Final Check Before Moving On. Back to the Project. References.

19. Product Construction, Test, and Deployment.

Ensuring a Smooth Transition from Design. Implementation Design, Code, and Unit Test. System and Other Tests. Challenges, Solutions, and Lessons. Requirements Met? Trade-offs, Compromises, and Surprises. Deployment. Back to the Project. References.


20. Looking Back and Beyond.



Although there are a large number of software products in the world today, the number of software user interfaces with high usability is painfully small. Furthermore, the number of software products with overall high usability is even smaller. These days, as in the past, it takes more than just a pretty interface to achieve high and competitive overall user satisfaction. An aesthetic interface with in-depth character is what users, customers, and business sponsors are seeking.

This is a daunting task for software designers and developers who are under constant pressure to reduce product cost, reduce development time, deliver increasing features, and improve quality relative to competition in a rapidly changing world wide environment. People in the software development business today (and in particular, those focusing on user interface and usability) must approach the job with caution and humility - there are lots of things to learn and do very quickly and effectively. No one person has all the answers to deal with so many simultaneous and competing challenges.

The primary goals for this book are to

  1. Make essential distinctions between the overall usability of a software product and its user interface. Overall usability is a function of many parameters that must be accounted for and user interface is only one factor.
  2. Provide very practical, specific, effective, and "best practice" guidance and techniques to achieve software products and user interfaces on schedule, with high overall usability, and with high user satisfaction. The guidance and techniques are provided in a way that is immediately applicable to current software user interface projects.

The focus of the text is on application software user interfaces, which is where the majority of user interface work exists. However, the techniques are applicable to development of software user interfaces for operating systems. In a more general sense, the general concepts are applicable to user interfaces of systems of different types.

Let's begin by discussing the task, the audience, and criteria that this text addresses.

The Task

Of course, the task that is explored in depth is that of planning, designing, constructing, validating, and deploying user interface software that meets requirements and helps achieve product goals for the user interface and usability in general. Each key subtask is described, rules of thumb (heuristics) provided, and examples explored. The intent is to provide effective guidance to achieve effective results. The guidance provided is typically not described in any other publication. Guidance in the text is experience-based and derived from a large number of projects, i.e., the school of hard knocks.

The Audience

There are several intended users of this information.

  • Product personnel responsible for user interface planning, requirements analysis, design, online help, performance support, tutorials, and training
  • Product personnel responsible for implementing all aspects of a product user interface, including implementation design, construction, and test
  • Product personnel responsible for evaluating the usability of software user interfaces, help, performance support, tutorials, and the overall usability of product software
  • Development Managers responsible for planning and tracking software development and the effectiveness of results
Measurable Criteria

A major objective is to guide a software developer who understands the basics of user interface development to design and implement better user interfaces more effectively.

  • Designing a better user interface means achieving higher usability and user satisfaction than was achieved prior to using this text or any other text or source of guidance.
  • Achieving the result more effectively means producing a better user interface faster, on or ahead of schedule, with fewer user interface and usability defects, on larger product feature sets, and with fewer resources than before.

In addition, this book is intended to be a more complete reference for user interface design and development than others available.


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