Designing Highly Useable Software

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Wiley, Dec 26, 2006 - Computers - 342 pages
Learn What Usability Really Is, Why to Strive for It, and How to Achieve It

"Highly useable" software is easy to use. It does what you expect it to. And it does it well.

It's not easy to build but as this book demonstrates, it's well worth the effort. Highly useable software is highly successful software—and everyone wins.
Inside, an accomplished programmer who has made usability his business systematically explores the world of programming, showing you how every aspect of the work is implicated in the usability of the final product. This is not just an "issues" book, however, but systematic, real-world instructions for developing applications that are better in every way. As you'll learn, there's no such thing as "intuitive" software. Instead, there are just the factors that make it highly useable: simplicity, consistency, the recognition of accepted conventions, and the foregrounding of the user's perspective. With these principles under your belt, you'll quickly discover dozens of ways to make your applications more useable:

  • Making windows and dialog boxes easy to comprehend and use
  • Designing software that is time- and resource-efficient
  • Making your software easy to navigate
  • Reducing the complexity of reports and other presentations of data
  • Understanding how the wrong programming decisions can limit usability
  • Ensuring smooth starts and stops
  • Capitalizing on the usability advantages of object-oriented programming
  • Understanding how usability affects your product's financial success
  • Using the testing process to improve usability
  • Promoting usability in training, installation, and online help
  • Making management decisions that will benefit software usability

Some chapters are written primarily for programmers, one primarily for managers. Most are for everyone, and all are filled with illuminating, usually amusing examples drawn from both inside and outside the technical world. A helpful appendix provides information on standards, usability groups, and sources for more information.

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About the author (2006)

Jeff Cogswell has been an application developer and trainer for 13 years, with clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. He has developed and taught courses on Windows architecture, CORBA/C++ and CORBA/Java, and object-oriented programming. Jeff operates a consulting firm specializing in software design. He has written seven computer books.

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