User-Centered Design
A Developer's Guide to Building User-Friendly Applications
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: March 2013
Pages: 154

How do you design engaging applications that people love to use? This book demonstrates several ways to include valuable input from potential clients and customers throughout the process. With practical guidelines and insights from his own experience, author Travis Lowdermilk shows you how usability and user-centered design will dramatically change the way people interact with your application.

Learn valuable strategies for conducting each stage of the design process—from interviewing likely users and discovering your application’s purpose to creating a rich user experience with sound design principles. User-Centered Design is invaluable no matter what platform you use or audience you target.

  • Explore usability and how it relates to user-centered design
  • Learn how to deal with users and their unique personalities
  • Clarify your application’s purpose, using a simple narrative to describe its use
  • Plan your project’s development with a software development life cycle
  • Be creative within the context of your user experience goals
  • Use visibility, consistency, and other design principles to enhance user experience
  • Collect valuable user feedback on your prototype with surveys, interviews, and usability studies
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oreillyUser-Centered Design
 
4.3

(based on 6 reviews)

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Pros

  • Easy to understand (6)
  • Well-written (5)
  • Helpful examples (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (4)
    • Novice (4)
    • Student (4)
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    4.0

    Good, but a bit over the top

    By Bytebandit

    from UK

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Easy to understand
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about oreilly User-Centered Design:

        A UK review.

        For those who feel all applications should be as polished as Apple products, regardless of market or user base, this book is for you. It's quite short but it contains a few key sentences that you'll smile in agreement with. I found it a huge relief that I wasn't the only person in the world who thinks the user experience is an essential component of a product, shame nobody else in my company agrees!

        However, I found that like a lot of American books, it's rather evangelical and it really does bang on a bit. The book seems aimed at scenarios where you develop lots of new products, I didn't feel it particularly covered niche markets where there is a single product and an entrenched user base.

        Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading it and it re-affirmed/renewed my interest in products that are nice to use as well as being functional.

         
        5.0

        An enjoyable and informational read

        By Doug Domeny

        from Manchester, NH

        About Me Developer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples
        • Well-written

        Cons

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          • Student

          Comments about oreilly User-Centered Design:

          Very practical suggestions, real-world examples, and personal anecdotes make this book an enjoyable and informational read. Applicable to all kinds of software projects. Looking forward to using these ideas on my next project.

           
          3.0

          Solid Survey of Design Practices

          By Ben

          from Durham, NC

          About Me Developer

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Easy to understand
          • Helpful examples
          • Well-written

          Cons

          • Too basic

          Best Uses

          • Novice
          • Student

          Comments about oreilly User-Centered Design:

          User-Centered Design by Travis Lowdermilk is a solid overview of the principles and practices of designing a software project with a focus on your users. The book does a good job of laying out the basic tools and processes of user-centered design, like usability studies, surveys, and project plans. It also argues convincingly for the power of its central points: user focus, preparation, and a structured process.

          If you're looking for a deep dive into design theory, this is probably not a book you want. Rather than dig into abstract design issues, this book instead acts as a survey of the user-centered design landscape, and points you to resources to go deeper if a particular topic catches your interest. Lowdermilk also does a good job of pointing out examples of the different principles discussed, though for a stretch of the book he appears to be a bit fixated on a small selection of examples, particularly 53 Inc.'s popular iPad app Paper.

          I'd recommend this book for developers who want to open their minds to design considerations and improve their ability to make usable products. It particularly seems suited for the engineer who knows technically how to implement features and write good code, but is still figuring out how to write applications that delight users. I'd especially recommend it for team leads or independent developers who are more likely to be able to meet users and be a part of managing requirements. I think all engineers could benefit from the books emphasis on the users point of view, but the real benefits will come to those who are able to make its suggestions part of the structure of their product workflows.

           
          4.0

          A solid effort on an important subject.

          By Binary Guerrilla

          from Albuquerque, NM

          About Me Developer, Sys Admin

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Concise
          • Easy to understand
          • Well-written

          Cons

          • Not comprehensive enough

          Best Uses

          • Expert
          • Intermediate
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          • Student

          Comments about oreilly User-Centered Design:

          This book is long overdue, and stands as one of the better books on design I've read. As Mr. Lowdermilk, an author with nearly two decades of professional experience, points out: "This book isn't a lengthy tome on the history or current state of usability. It's meant to be a collection of sensible tools and methods that you can start implementing today." On that level, the book pays it forward to the importance of designing user-centric applications.

          The author has an informal and accessible writing style, which made the book a pleasure to read. He begins the first two chapters of the text explaining the reasons for focusing on user-centered design (UCD) and then in an interesting twist he explains what UCD is not. This helped me filter on the concept much better so I could separate UCD activities from other development design paradigms I would've mistakenly thought actually were part of the design process. In example, he explains UCD are not things like usability or bug reports.

          Mr. Lowdermilk then explored the soft skills needed to work with users, critical items every developer needs in their toolbox in order to make the UCD experience successful. In the modern corporate society where technical and business culture intersect, these skills have become increasingly important and they are rightly placed in the book.

          There are a couple of caveats that bear more than a mention. First, this book is not about writing code, per se, in order to design applications. If that's what the reader desires, it cannot be found here. There are not giant HTML samples or snippets of JavaScript. Again, as the author has noted, the book is not about usability or program design. It is about making users the center of focus and how to create documents and flow diagrams. I'm not sure if this was by design by I did think the Sample Project Template at the end of the book was over-simplified for the processes and principles Mr. Lowdermilk describes. I feel any book about design should be more comprehensive in this area, irrespective of whether this was an attempt to liberate developers in the process. By nature, programmers are process-oriented and logical thinkers, and we prefer our documents to be consistent and comprehensive.

          Ultimately, I found User-Centered Design an interesting and useful text on the subject, and the very readable style made it more appealing as a book to sit down and read than as a shelf reference. The author made many good points and engaged me enough to keep my attention. I think when used in conjunction with some of the other excellent references in Appendix B (and he did reference some top-shelf content), the book achieved the goals the author stated up front. If you are a veteran developer like me, and you have neglected this area of application design (you know who you are), I would strongly recommend you read it.

          *Disclaimer: The e-book version of this book was given to me by a representative of the publisher in exchange for a review. However, all opinions and observations regarding the text are my own, and based on my experience as a professional developer.

           
          5.0

          How it is done, the right way!

          By Vinitor

          from Rochester, New York

          About Me Designer, Developer, Educator, Sys Admin

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Accurate
          • Concise
          • Easy to understand
          • Helpful examples
          • Well-written

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Intermediate
            • Novice
            • Student

            Comments about oreilly User-Centered Design:

            When I received the book, I anticipated a new spin on software development life cycle (SDLC). What I was pleasingly surprised to find, a refresh of tried and true SDLC methods and practices. These proven techniques give developers the tools design software, not just code. With hand held devices and the pressure on schedules for product development, planning, requirements, testing, thoughts on use, and true prototyping get lost. Travis Lowdermilk brings these back to the top of SDLC with fresh application. Explanations, examples are written about current development problems. I found chapter summaries identified as "The Short Version" helpful, to the point, and good check lists. I recommend this book to anyone involved software development and user interface design.

            (1 of 24 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            A walk through with a clear direction.

            By SCP

            from Atascadero, CA

            About Me Educator

            Pros

            • Easy to understand

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Intermediate

              Comments about oreilly User-Centered Design:

              Ap for school, small business to make us stand out. Needed to understand how to use and modify use in ap profile.

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