Book recommendations from IxDA ‘08

by New Idiom


Two weeks ago I attended the Interaction ’08 Conference in Savannah, GA. This was the world’s first conference for interaction designers, and it was amazing. While I was there I interviewed 5 brilliant speakers: Alan Cooper, Jared Spool, Bill DeRouchey, Marc Rettig and Michele Tepper. These interviews will soon be published on the New Idiom, but for now, here’s a snippet.

Tal: Any must read book or web site that we should follow? It can be from any field that you think contributed to you or changed the way you think about things.

Bill DeRouchey, Ziba Design

Bill: One of my favorite books of all time is a web book, called “Don’t Make Me Think”. The other books focus on specific topics, but “Don’t Make Me Think” is just brilliant, and that’s the reason it sold so well. It’s the whole notion that users are stupid because they can’t figure it out (you know what, we don’t get that much any more which is kind of nice). But “Don’t Make Me Think” is more about how users aren’t stupid they’re just busy, and it’s not their job to learn how to use an interface. It’s the designer’s job to make that interface readable and understandable. It’s very much a web book, actually there’s a version 2.0 which I haven’t read yet, but the principles apply to anywhere, whether it’s web, interaction design or whatever it is.
For interaction design – “About Face” is the classic book. And the third one is Dan Saffer’s book – Designing for Interaction. He did really good work in summarizing things down. I like his straightforward approach to the whole field and problem challenge.

Alan Cooper, Cooper

Alan: I don’t think any one author has put it together, because it’s too big, the problems we’re wrestling with are enormous and complex. I really like the works of Peter Drucker. He is called the man who invented management. He understood more than anyone that management was under-going a sea change with the creation of the knowledge worker. He understood more than anybody the diminution of efficiency as a useful business metric. And still the number one business metric in use today is efficiency, and so Peter Drucker has an immensely valuable message. He’s a tough read, because he’s so brilliant, he is confusing, and there’s just a lot of baggage in there because he’s a business consultant, but there are a couple of good anthologies of his work that have come out recently. One is called “The Classic Drucker” and another one is called “The Essential Drucker” which are good to read. And as you read these things you say ‘oh my god’ he totally gets the web, and then you realize he wrote it in 1985.

I don’t know why I thought he was from the 1970’s

He’s been writing for the last 75 years, but his writings are about the rise of the knowledge worker in the last 20-25 years, but most people haven’t commented about this until just the last few years.
I think very few people are willing to take at face value my assertion that business managers are off point and irrelevant. And that’s why I like to refer them to Peter Drucker, the most highly venerated sage of business management as my source for my assertion.


Jared Spool, UIE

I think Moggridge’s “Designing Interactions” is valued as a textbook for my students.

How have they responded to it?

Ooh they love it. They hated it first, because it looks like an economics textbook at first look because it’s really thick.

But then you see there are a lot of pictures, and a DVD, so you go ‘ok I can read this’

Yeah, so I assign a couple of chapters every class.

Do you use the DVD as well, or do you just use the text?

Well it turns out that if you watch the DVD first you’ll see the interviews that were used in the book (snippets of the interviews). So if you read the book you get the interviews. I tell the students to watch the DVD before they read the book, because the books are close in the background and if they read the book and then watch the DVD the DVD doesn’t have that effect. To me the DVD gets you excited about the designers as people.