ISBN 10: 1449359809 / ISBN 13: 9781449359805
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How do you design engaging applications that people love to use? This book demonstrates several ways to include valuable input from potential clients and customers throughout the process. With practical guidelines and insights from his own experience, author Travis Lowdermilk shows you how usability and user-centered design will dramatically change the way people interact with your application.

Learn valuable strategies for conducting each stage of the design process—from interviewing likely users and discovering your application’s purpose to creating a rich user experience with sound design principles. User-Centered Design is invaluable no matter what platform you use or audience you target.

  • Explore usability and how it relates to user-centered design
  • Learn how to deal with users and their unique personalities
  • Clarify your application’s purpose, using a simple narrative to describe its use
  • Plan your project’s development with a software development life cycle
  • Be creative within the context of your user experience goals
  • Use visibility, consistency, and other design principles to enhance user experience
  • Collect valuable user feedback on your prototype with surveys, interviews, and usability studies


Travis Lowdermilk, author of "User-Centered Design," offers his top tips for building user-friendly applications

1. Steal (I mean borrow) from others.

So many developers feel like they have to create experiences from scratch. There’s absolutely no shame in looking at others’ work and implementing what you’ve learned. Obviously, I’m not advocating stealing of intellectual property, but it’s impossible to come up with amazing experiences all on your own. It takes inspiration! Don’t be afraid to learn from others.

2. Your users know more than you give them credit for.

Many developers get into mindset that the users are the enemy. They’re the angry hoard collecting outside their office door shouting, “When will it be done!” Also, some developers feel like users don’t have the technical expertise to help solve software problems. Your uses are your greatest asset when it comes to gaining new insight about your application. It’s your responsibility to give them the language so they can articulate what they need. Continually ask questions, and make sure to validate that you’re understanding the comments accurately.

3. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

So many developers I talk to say things like “I can’t draw, I could never be a designer." While I’m not going to suggest everyone can be a designer, I still believe that everyone can flex their creative muscle. Just because you can’t paint a Mona Lisa, it shouldn’t prevent you from making basic sketches of your application’s workflow. Bottom line, if you can draw three basic shapes, you can sketch a thought or a design idea. Don’t be afraid to pick up a pencil or, better yet, hand one to your users to help them express their needs.

4. Have a purpose.

I liken the software development process to painting a room. Most of the work comes in the preparation. Clearing furniture, covering the floor, cleaning and taping off surfaces, all before you apply a single drop of paint. Building an application should have the same careful attention to planning. Don’t build features for technology’s sake or just because you can. Make sure each feature in your application has a purpose and is fulfilling a need. You should be able to adequately explain each feature and why it’s in your application.

5. When all else fails, reboot.

Sometimes an application’s design gets so far from its intended design that you find yourself forgetting what problem you were trying to solve in the first place. It can be a painful process to start over, but it can also be liberating to keep what’s working and throw away what’s not.

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