Designed for Use FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions1 about my book, and, more importantly, answers to these questions.

Is this book just a collection of your blog posts?

No. A small part of the book (maybe about 20%) covers topics I’ve previously covered on this site. For example, I’ve previously discussed realism here, and there’s a chapter on the same topic in the book. But it’s all completely rethought, re-researched, and rewritten, and the remaining 80% of the book is all new.

Do you use regular quotation marks in the book?

Ah, a very important question. Yes. I had no influence on the layout of the book, and almost no influence on its structure. Things like quotation marks, typefaces used for the book’s body text, typography, the structure of individual pages, how the table of contents looks and what it contains, how references to other books work, how and where links are displayed, picture cropping and size, on which page illustrations appear, which illustrations are shown inline, etc. were all determined by my publisher.

I essentially wrote the text and provided the pictures, and my publisher did everything else. Which means that I had no say in the kinds of quotation marks used in the book.

I’m trying to order from my country’s local Amazon website (like amazon.de), and they show the book as a preorder. What’s going on?

I’m not sure. Amazon has different fulfillment centers all over the world. I assume that the local sites will switch the book to «available» once a local center has it in stock. Shouldn’t be long now.

How do the illustrations hold up on the Kindle version?

The illustrations all look fine; I’ve tried to make sure that they have enough contrast even on a greyscale screen like the Kindle’s.

There were some formatting issues with a few of the pictures on the regular-sized Kindle’s screen, but these are now fixed. If your version of the book still has these issues, you can log in on pragprog.com, go to your account, and download an updated version.

What about other digital book readers, like the Kobo, a Sony Reader, or the Nook?

If you buy the ebook version, you get the book as a PDF, a .mobi file, and an .epub file. Your reader will probably be able to read at least one of these formats.

And while I haven’t tested the book with any digital book readers other than the Kindle, most current grayscale readers seem to use the same or very similar screens as the Kindle, so my book should look fine on any of them.

Why is there no Kindle edition on Amazon?

While I realize that it would be more convenient if you could buy the Kindle version directly from Amazon, The Pragmatic Programmers doesn’t publish Kindle ebooks on Amazon. If you buy the ebook version from pragprog.com, you’ll be able to download a DRM-free .mobi file, which you can copy to your Kindle.

Why is there no iBooks version in Apple’s store?

Again, I realize that it would be more convenient if you could buy the ebook version directly from Apple, but The Pragmatic Programmers doesn’t publish ebooks on the iBooks store. If you buy the ebook version from pragprog.com, you’ll be able to download DRM-free PDF and .epub files, both of which will work on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Is it okay to buy one copy, and distribute the PDF to all students in a class?

If you’re asking whether my publisher minds, then the answer is yes. The ebook license basically says that one purchase per reader is required.

However, there are volume discounts available, and if it’s for a class of students, it’s possible that there could be some kind of additional educational discount. It depends on the situation; my publisher told me to tell you to contact support at pragprog if you want to use the book as a textbook and distribute it to a class of students, and perhaps something can be worked out; either a further discount on the existing volume discount, or a code that will allow students to order the book at a cheaper price.

Can you recommend some blog posts I can read to get a feel for whether I like how you write?

I can do you one better. If you go to pragprog.com/titles/lmuse/designed-for-use, you can download the preface and two sample chapters.

What’s up with the em dashes in the ebook version? It’s all --- when it should be —!

If you log in on pragprog.com and go to your account, you should get an updated version of the book that doesn’t have this issue anymore.

There’s something wrong with the pragprog.com site, can you fix it?

No. Unfortunately, they won’t give me the passwords to their website. Something about security or some similar nonsense. But I will pass suggestions on to my publisher. The pragprog people are usually very good about fixing problems quickly.

Do you earn more money if I buy it from Amazon, or from the Pragmatic Programmers website?

That’s a great question! Thanks for asking! If it makes no difference to you, please buy it directly from the Pragmatic Programmers website. I earn more money that way (if there’s a middleman, the amount of money I get per sale is cut in half).

But I’m grateful regardless of where you buy it, or which version you link to. Note that if you’re outside of the US, you can very likely save quite a bit of money by getting it from your local Amazon site.

Can I ask you a question about your book?

Yes. Contact me via Twitter or by email. I’ll update this article if I receive more questions that I know the answer to.


  1. While all of these are real questions people actually asked, some of them were not asked very frequently. By which I mean that they were asked once. back

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designed_for_use_small

If you liked this, you'll love my book. It's called Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web. In it, I cover the whole design process, from user research and sketching to usability tests and A/B testing. But I don't just explain techniques, I also talk about concepts like discoverability, when and how to use animations, what we can learn from video games, and much more.

You can find out more about it (and order it directly, printed or as a DRM-free ebook) on the Pragmatic Programmers website. It's been translated to Chinese and Japanese.