I highlighted tons of the book while reading on a Kindle (which has awfully slow highlighting!), because so much of it seemed useful.
There’s no code inside this well-written book for programmers and visual designers. Instead, the focus is on usability — how people use things — and how you can make big, modest or subtle improvements to their experiences with digital interfaces.
Have you ever heard the sentence «Give them a fish and you’ll feed them for one day, teach them how to fish and you’ll feed them for the rest of their life»? This book is about teaching how to fish.
Overall, I found the book to be useful as it gave me broad coverage in the topic and pointed me to resources in case I wanted more depth.
Many great techniques are suggested that I never thought of as part of «design.» Mathis includes mock press releases, job shadowing, and feature sorting. Not only does he teach several techniques, but he also gives low-budget suggestions. He removes any excuse for not following certain steps such as usability testing.
In general product development I often see two areas that lack: design and documentation. Mathis hits on both topics. Every step of the design process is covered succinctly and thoroughly making it quick and easy to read yet includes many references for further indulgence. I would highly recommend this book to both young and experienced developers.
Chris Clark (who was a tech reviewer for the book):
Instructional design books tread a fine line between compelling reading and academic bore. Designed For Use delivers the goods with accessible writing and content that is broadly applicable.
Jon Bell (also a tech reviewer):
I was struck by the intellectual rigor in this book. A lot of designers are self-taught, so when they write books, they’re heavy on anecdote, opinion, and swagger. That’s great for selling yourself and getting on the speaker’s circuit, but those books are often a bit … light.
There are also a lot of books that boil everything down into very strict scientific formulas. These books take a lot of magic out of design, by trying to turn an unpredictable process into something that feels like painting by numbers.
I like that this book gives you a full survey of the field without being dry. There are tons of real-world and entertaining examples and diagrams, so it feels less like a textbook and more like a guy who loves great design and would like to tell you everything he knows.
In the end, it is hard not to like Designed for Use. The book presents a plethora of design methods which are sure to inspire everybody – the price of 30$ is more than justified.
[Designed for Use is] pretty in-depth and covers a lot of information that isn’t usually found in books like this.
I also saw some nice Twitter-sized reviews of the book.
@LKM’s Designed For Use clearly demonstrates language as user experience in every single sentence.
Designed for Use by @LKM. Haven’t finished it yet, still one of the best reading I’ve had.
Currently reading (and loving) «Designed for Use» by @LKM.
Upgrading @LKM’s book to bible status, next to @zeldman’s.
«Designed for Use» by @LKM is the ultimate hydra book. Every page read spawns 2-3 new links in my instapaper queue. Superb sourcing!
Enjoying @LKM’s Designed for Use. Spoiler: Usability wins.
If you’ve written a review and would like me to link to it, please tell me about it. If, on the other hand, you haven’t yet read it, you can buy it here.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to do one of these navel-gazing blog posts every few months. In fact, this is the only one I’ll do. ↩︎
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