About Face 4

About Face 4 by Alan Cooper has just been released. I first read the initial version and it was a revelation to me. Although Cooper’s ego saturates much of the text, the technique and craft of interaction was undeniably accurate. My own design style is heavily influenced by this book, as well as his other book The Inmates are Running the Asylum.

Most of the technique has become internalized, but with this latest version I think I am going to re-read it. I have been doing more individual design work lately and a re-read would help sharpen my technique.

We are currently in a major shift in interaction design. In 2007, I believe I did a good job with Marketo in creating a hybrid desktop-website SaaS application. (Webtop?) The paradigms in that style are modeled after systems like Microsoft Outlook with trees, buttons and menus.

The next wave is a hybrid of mobile and webtop. It leverages more animation, touch interaction, movement and space to achieve the goals. Although skeuomorphism has taken a temporary backseat, it is making an interesting reincarnation with physical effects like those demonstrated on Tympanus Codrops. Material Design by Google is leading the way on this new design front.

For new designers, you have to understand how powerful a book like About Face can be for your career. It gives you the vocabulary, technique and process to work with other experienced designers. It’s not a “fun” book to read. It’s a textbook. However, if you are serious about the craft then you should be willing to read a textbook on your choice of career.

I am not being paid by Cooper. This is a public service announcement in the spirit of having better designers and better products in our lives.

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