On a plane flight, the only reading material I had available was someone else’s copy of Joel Spolsky’s User Interface Design for Programmers. It’s very short… and took about an hour to read:
I’m afraid I have to mostly side with the less positive reviews on Amazon. When people buy texts on user interface instead of reading “some guy’s blog,” it’s usually because they are looking for well-vetted and researched ideas they can apply. But anyone experienced enough to properly take action based on this book’s glib advice (like “users don’t read!”) is probably smart enough to make all the necessary realizations on their own.
Joel nevertheless has an entertaining and frank way of talking about his personal experiences in the software industry. So I think it would come off better with a less ambitious title…like Joel Spolsky’s Top Anecdotes About User Interface. The cover could have Joel at a party with a martini, with his hand over the shoulder of a nervous bespectacled guy who’s about to get another earful about some Windows dialog box that sucks.
I’m not saying that kind of presentation is not useful or fun. In fact, most of my software development conversations are little more than me ranting in that fashion. Then again, I don’t charge anyone for it! (To be fair, Joel only charges for “about half” of the book, the rest is free on his website.)
Rather than debate the merits of the book any further, I decided to just write down a few things that reading it got me started thinking about. So begin <rant>…