Author: Jonathan Anderson, John McRee, Robb Wilson et al
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2010
Aimed at: Architects and project managers
Pros: Pretty cover
Cons: Not about User Interface design
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
It's a normal expectation that the title of a book gives you a good idea of the topic it covers. So at first glance you might imagine that "Effective UI" has something to do with UIs - user interfaces. From the Preface we discover that the bird used to adorn the cover is relevant - the Rainbow Lorikeet's call is seems is "ui, ui". And that's about the only mention in the book of the UI.
The subtitle might perhaps give us a clue: The Art of Building Great User Experience in Software. The authors are indeed more concerned with UX (User Experience) than with the nitty gritty of interface elements but to find out what the book is really about you need to turn to Chapter 1 which opens with:
Just as a finished software product never looks anything like the original plans and expectations for it, writing this book carried us in a surprising but interestingly different direction than we'd originally assumed.
That may be all well and good but at least they could have changed the title to reflect the new direction which is much more about team building and organisation. As stated on page 5
...most of the insight you'll gain in this book isn't specific to innovation, design, technique or artistry
(i.e. what you might have wanted to read about)
its about how you can clear the way for innovation, design, technique and artistry to come together successfully.
Chapter 2 at least discusses UX - but as its title and subheadings immediately reveal its about Building the Case for Better UX - i.e. convincing stakeholders that you need to do something rather than about how to do it.
The next chapter is on Effective Planning and Requirements and it includes a section on development methodologies which reviews three alternative - waterfall, BDUF (Big Design Up Front) and Agile, which is the approach that it endorses in a the penultimate chapter on The Iterative Development Process.
The four chapters In between cover the issues of Bringing Together a Team; Getting the Business Perspective - mission statements, product objectives, user attributes and business requirements; Getting to Know the User - through research into personas and user stories; and the Initial Product Architecture.
The final chapter is about the Release and Post-Release phase - including checking against original user goals. I wonder what the authors do when the users say - but I was expecting a blue box and you've delivered a yellow triangle.