UX Book Club: Designing the Obvious

We had a small but engaged book club tonight at Wilde Roast in Minneapolis. The book on the schedule was Designing the Obvious by Robert J. Hoekman, Jr. (@rhjr on Twitter) He has offered to have a call with the Minneapolis UX book club if we want to set one up, chime in on comments and I’ll arrange it if there is enough interest.

On the book:
We discussed several useful aspects of the book. In general the consensus was that it would be a book we would keep on a nearby shelf for reference. It has lots of good reminders and several pieces of advice that could be boiled down to useful checklists. The details were popular, things like forms are very relevant to a designers daily life and Hoekman has some solid and thoughtful advice, especially his advice on making the forms more friendly and human. The simple things we forget when in the middle of a project are listed in black and white. People also remarked on the usability of the book and how that contributed to the likelihood it would be kept handy. You could find information based on the book design. It had easily identifiable chapter cover pages with large lettering. It also included a great index and clear chapter titles. The size and form factor were easy to physically manage and allowed for quick access to content.

On our discussions
Other than the book, we got into a discussion about wireframes. An ongoing dilemma for the UX designer, we discussed the appropriate level of detail for a wireframe. I recommended a post by Will Evans of SemanticFoundry that talks about them as Thinking Device.

We shared some additional resources:

Yahoo Stencils for Visio and Omnigraffle
EightShapes Unify Design System
Userability Design Frameworks podcast with Robert J. Hoekman Jr. (our book author) and Jared Spool

We discussed Hoekman and Jared Spool’s thoughts around design frameworks and systems in general. We also talked about prototyping. In the end it all gets very specific and contextual. We then discussed next steps for deciding a June book. I have two thoughts. Since wireframes came up and we spent some time there, Communicating Design by Dan Brown seems like a nice next book. The second thought, Seth Godin came up several times because 1) Hoekman references him frequently and 2) he is the keynote speaker at the 2009 MIMA Summit. So his new book, Tribes, is also a good one for the group this year.

Maybe we do both in that order. Let me know your thoughts in the comments on this page.

Big Thanks!
A big thanks goes out to Ivan Stegic of Ten Seven Interactive, maker of Periscope Gadget – the first ever app to integrate multiple Basecamp and Highrise account into your homepage, directly in Gmail and on your Windows Desktop using Google Gadgets. Jennifer Bohmbach was the very lucky winner of the Wilde Roast gift card.