I'm looking for a UX book that has content similar to UX Myths. The book should cover frequent user experience misconceptions and show ways how to do it better. It would also be great if there are not only misconceptions but general approach for a good user experience. Its content should be limited to website interface designing.


From the sounds of your question, you're looking for a book with granular examples of individual patterns that can be quickly 'sprinkled' onto an interface to make it usable. Unfortunately, that won't make a major impact on the user experience of your product.

The biggest bottlenecks to user satisfaction are fundamentals like information architecture, intuitive workflows and an 'entity model' that matches the way users 'chunk' activities and objects. You can right-align your field labels all you like, but it won't make much impact unless users can reach your form and know exactly what to do next. Alas, these things can neither be taught by a single book, nor conveyed by a series of isolated examples.

Another point to raise is that UX isn't really something you should try to understand through reading in the first place - what you should really be doing is undertaking real-world usability tests with (ideally) a representative sample of actual users. That will identify the biggest issues far more effectively than just applying a handful of form design patterns.

I don't mean to sound dismissive - it's evident you're taking usability seriously, else you wouldn't be wanting a specific piece you could apply as soon as possible. But even if someone found a book that fitted your exact query, I don't imagine it being a tremendous help.

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    I read his question to mean asking for book in the UX space that does the same trick as "Don't Make Me Think" does in the usability space. – Erics Oct 24 '11 at 1:42
  • +1 I like the philosophy of your answer, but "what you should really be doing is undertaking real-world usability tests with (ideally) a representative sample of actual users" -- that seems out of reach for a lot of people working on small projects or hobby projects. And even on larger projects, it's out of reach if a budget for UX wasn't set up before the project began... there has to be some low-cost way for people to get introduced to these principles and put them to work without explicitly doing human testing. – Mark E. Haase Aug 20 '12 at 14:53
  • @mehaase - you say that, but you can do a user test with nothing more than five people and a laptop. You don't need a dedicated usability lab, and you can recruit fairly cheaply through an agency (at around £40 per participant). Steve Krug wrote a useful book, 'Rocket Surgery Made Easy', which outlines a cheap and effective process for getting qualitative data. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Aug 20 '12 at 15:02

The book I can think of that is most like that site comes in book form and in web form. It is called Getting Real, and it is written by the guys at 37 Signals. You can buy the paperback, or you can read it free online.

As Jimmy mentions, following a list of best practices will take you only so far. When you're ready to jump into developing a deeper understanding of why some design practices work better than others, there are lots of great books on the subject. Here are four, in order, that I really enjoyed during my development as a designer:

  1. Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think. Steve takes his experience as a researcher and gives you insight into how people really use web sites. For example, Steve explains that people don't actually read anything and than UI design is more like billboard design than book design. He advocates for giving users dead simple choices and for eliminating as much text as possible. He even goes on to explain the value of usability testing and how you can do it yourself in just a little time.

  2. Robert Hoekman Jr's Designing the Obvious. In this book Robert advocates getting to a design that is dead obvious. He explains why you should watch what people do and not listen to what they say they do. He goes on to say you should build only what is necessary, only that which supports what you know from research that people are trying to do. Instead of building general tools that make it possible to do something, build something that supports a specific task that you know people need to do. And build products that match how people think things work, not how things actually work. He shows you techniques for turning beginners into intermediates, for handling errors gracefully, and more.

  3. Alan Cooper's About Face. This book really dives into sophisticated interaction design and covers the whole gamut, from using research to understand users and their goals to designing to support specific scenarios of usage to using best practice patterns. Alan explains why users should never need to know how something actually works; that you should design primarily for intermediates and secondarily for beginners and experts; how to conduct interviews to understand the needs of stakeholders, the technical constraints, and how users think about the problem; how to uncover users' motivations for using your product and why users don't care about your interface. He goes on to explain several design principles, and gets into the details of supporting flow, making a product feel competent and considerate, and even a little bit on the elements of visual design. He covers common patterns like search, undo, files and saving, data entry, selection, drag and drop, windows, controls, menus, toolbars, dialogs, and errors.

  4. Kim Goodwin's Designing for the Digital Age. When you're ready to start thinking about leading a small design team working on complex UX projects, this book is an invaluable resource that goes into exhaustive detail on breaking your design projects into phases: (1) using Research to understand stakeholder goals, other products in the marketplace, what users do and need, and your current product's strengths and weaknesses; (2) using Modeling to distill data from user interviews down to Personas and other models that will inform decisions later; (3) developing Requirements such as usage scenarios, data needs, functional needs, product qualities, and constraints; (4) developing a Design Framework consisting of screens, functional elements, and a design language that satisfies persona goals and usage scenarios; (5) developing the Detailed Design through iteration, collaboration, user testing, and specification.

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