Interaction Design

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum is a book that all software developers ought to read. It is about design – and don’t think architecture – but think interaction design.

Interaction design is one of the most neglected subjects within the field of software engineering – and yet is the crucial piece that can make or break a consumer software product. Interaction design is a process of researching users, their needs, their likes and dislikes, their work patterns, their business needs, their goals, profiling all of this, to build software that is cognitively friction-free. Without interaction design, software usually feels raw and clunky – with users having to adapt to the way it works. Software should be soft – it should be malleable enough to adapt to its users. Interaction design provides a way to fulfill that requirement.

Alan Cooper does a remarkable job in explaining this – and this book is a great prologue to his somewhat more prescriptive About Face. Check this book out, I’m hoping that if enough software people read it, software will stop being so darn frustrating.

Yet another Getting Real review

I recently finished reading Getting Real by the 37Signals gang. After which, of course, I decided to chime in with yet another review.

I enjoyed reading the book – and I agreed with most of what they said. I have, after all, been immersed in Agile for over 4 years now – and I’m also a firm believer in Interaction Design.

An example of a part I disagreed with was about it being okay if team-mates are not co-located. I don’t care how they claim to have worked it out (DHH no longer lives in Copenhagen FWIW), I think team-mates should be in the same room – if possible.

Anyway – it is a pleasant enough read, even if it simply re-iterates what many other books already say – the agile series, interaction design series, lean software, theory of constraints etc. If you want actual theory and a deeper understanding, read the full list. If you want instant gratification without the longer term benefits of understanding the concepts behind this stuff, read Getting Real.

Heck, read it anyway – its kind of a fun book.