Art of Interactive Design
A Euphonious and Illuminating Guide to Building Successful Software
By Chris Crawford
Publisher: No Starch Press
Final Release Date: December 2002
Pages: 408

An understanding of what makes things interactive is key to the successful creation of websites, computer games, and software. In The Art of Interactive Design, Chris Crawford explains what interactivity is, how it works, why it's important, and how to design good software and websites that are truly interactive. Crawford's colloquial, conversational style makes it easy to grasp the fundamentals and the theoretical underpinnings of interactivity, as he discusses specific social and artistic issues.

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Needs a revision

By squidpower

from Utah

About Me Developer

Verified Reviewer


  • Interesting to read


  • Too much profanity

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  • Expert
  • Intermediate

Comments about oreilly Art of Interactive Design:

This book was copyrighted in 2003. Most of the principles and concepts in the book are relevant today; however, many of the examples and screen shots are dated and seem older than 2003.

There are four sections in the book: 1) Fundamentals, 2) Design Advice, 3) Theory, and 4) Social and Artistic Issues. I only read and will review the first section. This was enough for me to get a feel for the book and to pick up some of the basic concepts of interactive design. For an interactive designer, the other sections look like they would provide some interesting reading.

The only drawback in the book is the fair amount of profanity the author uses. My guess is that it was an attempt to make the book more edgy, but for me it made the book less professional.

There were two parts that enlightened me more than any other. The first is that the interactivity of the software should be separated into three separate functions: speak, think, and listen. When a user is interacting with the software it should make it very clear what function it is performing. For example, there will be problems if the user thinks the computer is listening when in fact it is thinking or trying to speak. The second enlightening part for me was the concept of using metaphors to help the users anticipate what is going to happen. The better the metaphor, the better the user experience.

An update to this book would be useful because this book was written right at the time that voice recognition was showing a lot of promise. The author spends a decent amount of time describing how voice recognition will be the answer to many of the listening issues found in computer software. Since voice recognition is still impractical and appears to be so in the foreseeable future, some rewriting would be beneficial.

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