Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design is another classic I should almost certainly have read ages ago. It gives very straigthforward explanations of why language and cognition are complex social processes and how this presents huge challenges for designers and for the whole field of AI.
I also enjoyed the wonderful predictions that by 1988 we would have “thinking computers” and advertisements from 1982 offering “programs that understand you so that you don’t have to understand them”. Technology progresses, hype remains a constant!
It is also interesting that “not having to understand” was promoted, rather than “being easy to understand”, even back then. I’ve always thought of usability about being helpful and increasing clarity, rather than about encouraging people not to think at all.
I haven’t read the book yet, but this blog post on screen templates presents 12 basic layouts and the sort of information they work best with. It could be a useful checklist if you want to manage or rationalise presentations across a large website, especially one that has evolved organically and could do with tidying up. The templates are simple (seasoned designers won’t find much they don’t know already) but could be handy for anyone new to web design and layout who wants some “off the peg” styles to get them started.
Thanks to Rey for the link!
A really interesting discussion about the differences between Chinese and American website design on Live From Beijing (via 290s). I particularly liked the comment “Let’s avoid the trap of explaining things with culture instead of explicit motivations.” It’s so hard to disentangle the multiple motivations and influences on user behaviour, but financial gain does seem to have a tendency to trump everything else!