Interface and interaction design texts?
December 12, 2016 12:41 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite very basic introductory texts for interface and interaction design?

I'm teaching a class next semester called "Interactive Tools" in a program for, essentially, theatrical/entertainment design students (so, like, set, lighting etc) at an art school (so there's a high likelihood of getting some fine artists, animators, etc). It's also been conceived as fitting into a curriculum centered around VR and AR technologies. It's never been taught before, and I'm working on putting together the syllabus.

Historically classes in the program have been project based and exploratory to (I think) a fault, with not much theoretical or practical underpinning, and students left to do their own research. I'd like to at least provide a solid reading list, and ideally assign a chapter or two of reading.

So: what are your favorite introductory texts for interface and interaction design?
posted by hapticactionnetwork to Education (14 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Is this for a programming course? "Interface" as in "user interface"? If so--People I know who work a lot with UI/UX recommend Don't Make Me Think to newcomers like me.
posted by Sublimity at 12:51 PM on December 12, 2016

Interface as in user interface, yeah. The course is sort of a programming course, but will also be as basic as showing students a Kinect and explaining what information they can get from it.
posted by hapticactionnetwork at 12:54 PM on December 12, 2016

Don't Make Me Think and The Design of Everyday Things two of the most common basic user experience books. The latter is not computer specific but more about thinking about how people will use objects and making them intuitive, user friendly, and explorable.
posted by Candleman at 1:01 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

About Face by Alan Cooper is classic.
posted by gsh at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2016

Nthing The Design of Everyday Things. I'd also consider Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information and/or Envisioning Information.

The second one might be more relevant to what you're looking to teach but I haven't read that one yet so can't say for sure.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:26 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

As others have said, The Design of Everyday Things is basically the textbook here.
posted by 256 at 1:59 PM on December 12, 2016

nth'ing Norman's DOET (original title, Psychology of Everyday Things, POET). His "gulf of evaluation" and "gulf of execution" was foundational.

Brenda Laurel's "Computers as Theatre" draws the lines of correspondence with the arrows reversed, but could really help your student understdand UX and make for some interesting discussions... Originally published in 1991, but looks like she's got a 2014 2nd edition! She's into VR also.

The paradigmatic interactive tool is the REPL of a programming language.
posted by at at 8:25 PM on December 12, 2016

missed my edit window... "is foundational".

here's a good summary of Norman's gulfs:
posted by at at 8:33 PM on December 12, 2016

I haven't read this yet but just came across this book Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons From Science Fiction which seems like it could be a great text for your group.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:29 PM on December 12, 2016

Designing Interactions is a lovely book of case studies / reflections about interaction design projects. It could give a good counterpoint to the theory and how-to books suggested in this thread.

Also, the books recommended so far focus on the practical, task-completion aspects of interaction design (that's not a knock against them, I'll nth all those recommendations). But if you want to get more into the emotional, sensory, and social aspects of interaction design, Don Norman's Emotional Design is a good choice. There's also Nathan Shedroff's Experience Design 1; it's very accessible and full of examples, but the examples may be too dated by now. If you're interested, I can recommend more books along these lines, but they're more advanced texts that you'd probably have to summarize in lecture rather than assigning as readings.
posted by Banknote of the year at 11:35 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Bill Buxton's Sketching User Experiences is another great book, and it's inspiring in that it shows a lot of examples of getting a quick and dirty interaction going so that you can learn from it. It covers the craft and practice of being a designer more than the other books we're recommended.
posted by Banknote of the year at 11:55 PM on December 12, 2016

Not necessarily introductory, but very clear and approachable: Bret Victor: Magic Ink
posted by kmt at 5:03 AM on December 13, 2016

I like Lukas Mathis' book Designed for Use.
posted by wolfr at 3:16 PM on December 13, 2016

Thanks everybody, this is all really helpful!
posted by hapticactionnetwork at 8:54 PM on December 14, 2016

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