I have not found much in terms of writing or guidance on how to design complex applications, particularly studio-style applications such as 3dsmax, Photoshop, Ableton, IDEs, etc., and was hoping to turn here for any pointers.

This is somewhat related to How can I keep up-to-date with the latest thinking about designing complex, rich applications?, but I'm looking more for foundational guidance rather than subscribing to blogs with relatively more narrow/marginal/incremental information (some of them do contain a few good broader posts, but that's among a ton of noise). (The fact that the answers there aren't great even with respect to that original question doesn't help!)



I would suggest reading this book : Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell The logical organization of content and the writer's depth of experience in designing UIs, both in conventional/web-based applications - shows off very well. The best part, that I like about the book is - its practical! Its suggests models/patterns/best practices and weighs their pros-cons meaningfully. Good reference to fall back to.

You could couple this with some good read on Cognitive Psychology. Since the products we are talking about, are supposed to be used over long periods of time, its fairly important that the interface factors this in. One good resource: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People


The Rosenfeld series is really good and (although kind of annoying that it splits up into 20 volumes. http://rosenfeldmedia.com/

I second 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People. it's more a psychology book. While the classic Dont' Make me Think by Steve Krug covers what you should and shouldn't do, 100 Things explain WHY you shouldn't do certain things in a psychological/neurological perspective. These are knowledge that you can transfer into more innovative design.

The other classic to UX and designing for persona is The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Product Drives us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity is a great read.

Smashing Magazine's UX Design Series is a step-to-step guide, much like the Rosenfeld series to everything-UX: https://shop.smashingmagazine.com/products/ux-design-bundle-14-ebooks

Finally, Simple and Usable: Web, Mobile and Interaction Design, is not a step-by-step guide to UX practice in general, but a brief guide to simplify complex UI design. It's a quick read and entertaining and very practical!

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