Look, I’m just going to point you over to the review I wrote on The Interconnected, because I loved the book and I think you should read it… but I don’t feel like cross-posting it at 3am.
Everything in The Mind’s Eye involves the human body’s complex process for collecting and processing visual input. In other words, The Mind’s Eye is about seeing, or not seeing, or seeing but not understanding what you see.
Dr. Sacks covers both clinical cases in a story format (as he is wont to do) and the story of losing the eyesight in one of his eyes in this book.
Of the two topics, he is unsurprisingly more adept at presenting the clinical cases. When he’s writing about others, his style is interspersed with research examples, quotes from the patient, etc.
When he writes about his own experience losing the eyesight in one eye due to a tumor, much of the presentation is in a diary format, and he often repeats himself. The research is still present, but it’s overwhelmed by the volumes of detail about his personal experience.
Despite the abrupt change in tone and style, the information is still excellent, his content is still understandable (although possibly it helps that I’m a bit of a science and medicine wonk) and his structure still holds up.
Had he ended the book on his experience, it would have fallen flat, but the last chapter of the book (also called “The Mind’s Eye”) discusses how blind people process information and the wide variation in how we think and visualize what we know. It’s the book’s saving grace and a strong weapon against the ableist tendency to assume that all blindness is like wearing a blindfold, and that all blind people experience blindness the same way.
Because of this last chapter, I’m able to look at my own work in web design with a new approach, and that has made all the difference.
I’m a three-time failure at reading the Polar Bear Book.
I’m also a Principal Information Architect with 10 years’ experience.
I’m not telling you not to read the Polar Bear Book. I am telling you that if you want a short, direct, and well-structured book on what Information Architecture is, how to get started practicing it, and real-world examples of prior work, Everyday Information Architecture by Lisa Maria Martin is the book to start with.
I started this book while sitting in a hospital room watching my husband sleep. It’s readable even under extreme stress. The book starts with the LATCH system of organization, which I had learned… but when I’d learned it through the quasi-apprenticeship of a mutual fund company’s design department, it didn’t have a name. So here I was, middle of the afternoon, snoring and beeping filling the room, and ten-year veteran of information architecture, learning things I didn’t know on page 5.
Your milage may vary (YMMV), especially if you’re one of those younger folks for whom information architecture degrees were available. (We had library science but I was too short-sighted to major in it.)
The book is vibrant and well-structured enough that I could put it down for a week at a time if I needed to and pick it up again and keep reading and understand where I’d left off. (Also, YMMV.)
Plus, this book isn’t afraid to use Star Trek, Ravelry, cooking, self-deprecating spreadsheet jokes, and colorful, useful examples.
I’ll admit I probably should have read this book back when Luke Wroblewski wrote it, but I didn’t think I needed to. I had attended one of the An Event Apart conferences where Luke presented the ideas the book is based on, and I followed him pretty closely on Twitter at the time, so most of what is in the book I’d learned through other means.
But it’s been seven years, and I’m introducing a new company to mobile design for the first time, so it was time for me to take a refresher course. This book was perfect for that task.
The goal of this book is to teach you what it means to design a website or application first from the mindset of a mobile design. It came about because, before mobile, we designed everything for the computer desktop, and after mobile, that sucked pretty badly all things considered. If you don’t remember the era of m-dot sites and dumbphone sites and total lack of iPhones, well, I envy you a little. (Also, go ask an old person about the Netscape browser wars.)
The book promises no code and to keep things short; it delivers on both promises. At the same time it delivers explanations of why mobile is important, how to think about mobile use cases beyond the idea that everyone is doing things “on the go” (they’re not), and a light but effective introduction to how to think about design elements such as touch areas, hover states, form elements, and page layout in a mobile context.
I hope that A Book Apart commissions a second edition, because the first edition is pushing close to 10 years old, and a lot has changed in the last 10 years. I’m not honestly confident that it will make as much sense to someone who just joined the industry as it does those of us who were hand-coding our Geocities sites back in the late 1990s. But regardless of the slightly dated statistics (and screenshots) and the assumption that none of us know what this “mobile” thing is, the theories and mindsets introduced are sound. It’s still a valuable read all these years later.
Update December 2018: The paperback is sold out at A Book Apart and I’m hoping that means there’s a new edition coming out! In the meantime, the e-book is a good deal.
Designing for Emotion by Aaron Walter is definitely less expensive if you buy it from the publisher, A Book Apart. As of this writing it’s $41 on Amazon and you can get two of them from ABA for that price. Support small press publishers!
I put off reading this book for a long time because I thought it was about designing for emotional situations. Shows what kind of reading comprehension I’ve got! It’s actually about designing a product or interface to resonate with its own emotion – giving your product a personality and voice and tone.
As a UX Designer, it invites me to think of different interactions that my designs can have with our users – from silly and playful to sincere and human. It talks about techniques for researching both the design persona one starts with and the usability tests one uses when the design persona has been drafted.
Like most of the A Book Apart books, this book isn’t designed to be the be-all-end-all on the topic, but rather an introduction to it, which will give you enough information to move more deeply into designing for emotion either by experimenting or by using the resources listed at the end of the book.
I would’ve liked a few more examples of what can go wrong, but otherwise, it was a well put-together book and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.