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About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design by David Cronin, Robert Reimann, Alan Cooper

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Introduction to the Third Edition

This book is about interaction design—the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services. Like many design disciplines, interaction design is concerned with form. However, first and foremost, interaction design focuses on something that traditional design disciplines do not often explore: the design of behavior.

Most design affects human behavior: Architecture is concerned with how people use physical space, and graphic design often attempts to motivate or facilitate a response. But now, with the ubiquity of silicon-enabled products—from computers to cars and phones—we routinely create products that exhibit complex behavior.

Take something as basic as an oven. Before the digital age, the operation of an oven was quite simple—it involved turning a single knob to the correct position. There was one position for off, and one position for any oven temperature one might want to use. Every single time a person turned that knob to a given position, the same thing happened. One might call this “behavior,” but it is certainly quite simple and mechanistic behavior. Compare this to our modern-day ovens with silicon chips and LCD screens. They are endowed with buttons that say non-cooking-related things like Start, Cancel, Program, as well as the more expected Bake and Broil. What happens when you press any one of these buttons is quite a lot less predictable than what happened when you turned the knob on your old gas ...

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