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December 15, 2006

Designing Interactions

Posted in: Opinion, Book Reviews, Reviews

In the book (a turf) Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge, the inventor-designer of the first laptop, and founder of IDEO, a design company one sees a complete overview of all key figures of interaction design from past to present.

42 designers who shaped our interactions with technology

bookcover of designing interactions

Book Info

Summary

In the book Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge, the inventor-designer of the first laptop, interviewed all keyfigures of interaction design. Ranging from Doug Engelbart who invented the mouse, Will Wright - the game design guru who brought us the Sims, Larry Page from Google to the people behind the PC, iPod, Palm desktop, Multisensory and multimedia devices and others. All interviewees tell a unique and very detailed story of their design process full of obstacles and complexities.

The book ends with theoretical chapters about people and prototypes. Sections like What is design?

The design is an expression of the purpose.

And further disciplines, hierarchy of complexity, what is the future of interaction design?, prototyping techniques, designing services, process.

What is interaction design about?

In any case, we have to see further and ask ourselves: is what we design useful for the end-user? Industrial designers, webdesigners, game designers all have to be aware of bringing that quality to the way humans and computers interact. Readability, recognition, consistency and navigability are basic principles to think of when designing with interactions in mind.

In the design process, at one point we are confronted with the question: “How will the end-user interact with the website?” Not only is usability important.

  • Some usability factors

  • Designing easy to understand forms
  • Document structure to allow easy retrieval of information
  • Visual aids: color schemes, typography

Criticism

This instant classic gives a unique inside look into the world of these pioneers in the field of interaction design. The book is well documented with the many photographs, plus a DVD with all interviews. And above all, the book reads as a bundled mind-blowing fun adventure. The author carries an easy-going tone throughout the book. But for an academic publication one expects that interview excerpts are edited to convey that info in a more structured manner. An example of unnecessary info and a second very interesting point that Larry Page from Google makes.

We would hang out at the loading dock, waiting for equipment to come in, and then we’d bug the professors. Larry Page (Google)

We’ve added a lot of services. It’s a design challenge to add services without increasing the complexity … Larry Page (Google)

This illustrates that some editing could make these passages more comprehensible.

Another thing, one could argue the author has put a lot of his employees at IDEO as examples in the book. This is not what one could expect from an academic publication from M.I.T. press, but these are really minor things.

Who should read the book

Initially you might consider this book, as authored by a designer for designers. The book is accessible to a larger public since its historical and cultural value. Lots of these inventions changed the way people live, that is for sure.


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