“The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers” by Johnny Saldaña
The book introduces qualitative research. Main content of the book focuses on how to analyse interview data by a process called coding. Coding means labelling the interview transcript and reducing the coded information to its key information for further analysis. The book introduces and explains, with examples, several coding techniques. Those help to stay focused. You will gain a good reference for different types of interviews and research questions. Coding goes hand in hand with other qualitative analysis techniques such as a thematic map analysis. Some would say, it is a process that you do anyway in a thematic map analysis just with a better structure.

(The book on Amazon)

“Man-Machine Engineering” by Alphonse Chapanis
This is a book from 1956 written by one of the founding fathers of ergonomics, Alphonse Chapanis. As I found it from other writings of him, also this book is written in a very clear forward manner, easy to understand. Further I like his way of writing with integrating examples. Alphonse offers a brief excursion into the history of human factors engineering (or also calles human engineering) from time-motion studies. It gives an understanding how human factors engineering developed from the original economic point of view, to make people work faster to earn more money, to a safety point of view during the world war and further the shift from fitting people to tools to the other way round. Other chapters in the book explain basic design principles for visual presentations, acoustic presentations and controls. Even if you may think you know it already it is nicely written together and summarises the most important things in a clear way with examples. whereas the examples are from that point of time I found them especially worth discovering as an understanding how things developed until now. Did you know that old cars had a foot pedal for control of the windshield wiper?

“Why We Fail: Learning from Experience Design Failures” by Victor Lombardi
A very nice book that evaluates different designs and why projects failed in commercial use. The underlying purpose is that we can much learn from our failures, much more maybe then if something is running good. If somethings is running good we need to find out what it is that made it good which can be quiet difficult. Failure-analysis itself tells us what we have to do different. In his book Victor Lombardi collected analysis failed projects mostly from the web design area. He refers to user experience but the first project he presents, iDrive by BMW, emphasizes clear failures in usability (e.g. unknown abbreviations in the user interface). Beside the mixture of failure categories, the book is easy to read and practical written. After each chapter is a summary with the most important facts. Further links to videos make it easy to get to know the project first and then follow the explanations in the book.

“Social Intelligence: The New Science of Social Relationships” by Daniel Goleman
Following the title, the book explains what social intelligence is and how emotions influence our daily lives and our decisions. It emphasizes that it is not only about cognitive logical decisions how to choose the most social suitable phrase or behaviour in different situations. Social intelligence involves as component to develop empathy, compassion and active compassion. Emotions are infectious. It well explains why we tend to feel anger deep in ourselves if someone is talking to us with anger. Fortunately most of us learned to ignore the upcoming anger. Trained higher brain functions tell us to stay calm. We listen to the other person with an understanding facial expression and at the end make helpful statement which the person helps to calm down as well. How to handle emotion is not something completely genetic huge parts are learned in early live but can also be adapted with mindfulness later on.

“Society of Minds” by Marvin Minsky
Basics of human intelligence nice explained and brought into relation of artificial intelligence. Step by step you learn how human intelligence is build up from little parts called agents. Agents themselves are mindless.  You can learn why it is easier for a robot to learn expert tasks and why it is so complicated for a robot to do tasks of a little child like building towers out of blocks. The book is written very illustrative and easy to read.

“Design meets disability” by Graham Pullin
This book is not about how to design (process) for people with disability rather it explores what the meaning of design for disability is, like a u-boat it investigates unknown. Glasses once were something to be avoided, but now their message has completely changed. They provided their wearer with an aura of intelligence and personal style. Graham Pullin explores various methods how to improve the design for disability, explains why universal design maybe not be the solution and brings a lot of examples of outstanding design especially for people with disability focusing on their individuality.

“The Human Factor” von Kim Vincente
The book describes how the designer’s point of view changed from a previously technical based to a human-machine based with emphasise on interaction and task related design. Further decision-making in complex situation is explored based on an analysis of what the characteristics of complex situations are and how they conflict with cognitive abilities.

“Words, words, words” by Alphonse Chapanis
Alphonse Chapanis is one of the pioneers in human factors engineering (see also my article about him). He writes this impressing and nice written paper about to express the words clearly. Plan, execution and evaluation of a nice interesting study and the development of theories is only one half of the story. However only one half of the story as long as it is not possible to explain the study or theory in an easy and understandable way to other people. So sometimes a good idea stays undetected because of the chaos in the authors head that is reflected in his writings. This is especially true for studies, it shall not be goal to decode them to sound scientific, instead explain complex matters in an easy way and try to find understandable associations to explain it. The paper reminds you to not only do usability studies and evaluations also to focus on usability when you present your information to other people…

“Die Architektur des Künstlichen” von Herbert Simon
Auf den ersten Blick nicht direkt mit Gebrauchstauglichkeit in den Zusammenhang zu bringen; aber ein Grundlagen Buch zum Verständnis und Aufbau von Systemen, Angefangen wo der Systembegriff angewendet wird und was unter komplexität verstanden wird. Wir sind umgeben von Systemen, in unserer vernetzten Welt werden sie komplexer statt leichter verständlich. Dennoch braucht man sich nicht abschrecken lassen. Es ist nicht nötig die Systeminternen Vorgänge zu verstehen um ein Modell seines Verhaltens zu erzeugen. Für eine gute Schnittstelle zum Nutzer sind es die Eigenschaften bzw. deren Äußeres Abbild, dass in Gebrauchstauglickeit mündet. Das Buch hilft bei der Überlegung, was für das Produkt (System) wichtig ist, wie es repräsentiert wird nach außen (innere Komplexität verstecken) und wie es gegliedert wird…

“The design of everyday things” by Don Norman
If you are interested in user centered design you should not miss this book, it is a classic. Don Norman, himself professor of cognitive psychology emeritus at the University of San Diego California, tells everyday stories about confusing products. You learn to understand that it is not your fold if you do not know how to handle a product, but bad product design. As the book bases on everyday examples it is easy to read and understand, you will discover most examples just next to you or you could add your own experience (e.g. think about doors that sometimes do not hint how to open them or the tap). Further Don writes humorous fun to read. After reading you will see the environment with different eyes.

“Cost-Justifying Usability” by Randolph G. Bias and Deborah J. Mayhew
Arguments for usability are summarized to be discussed together with colleagues or the boss. Persuade them that usability is a selling point and worth to invest (e.g. unique selling point of a product, focus on features dependent on tasks, early detection of not task sufficient concepts and therewith less costs in re-design compared to a late detection or customer complains). The book bases on the product design process and evaluates phase by phase advantages of usability, for company internal processes and for the market / customers.

“About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design” byAlan Cooper
The book provides a good and short introduction into the user centered design process for web design. According to the title it describes good interaction design on the basis of practical examples. Typical failures are summarized at a glance.

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