The Second Edition is out!
Visit to read excerpts and learn more.

About the Book

Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design is an intermediate-level book about interface and interaction design, structured as a pattern language. It features real-live examples from desktop applications, web sites, web applications, mobile devices, and everything in between. This site contains excerpts from some of the book's patterns. The book has more, of course -- more introductory material, more patterns, and more examples. Naturally, I'd like you to buy it! But this material has been on the Web for a while, and I'd like to keep it here.

Read the Amazon reviews

O'Reilly's official catalog page and press release

The book cover

Why a duck?

I have no idea. O'Reilly's people picked it, not me, but I think it has something to do with the fact that Mandarin ducks are colorful, and the book was printed in full color. Also, some of their other Web books have birds on their covers. (But he's cute, isn't he?)

A little history...

For those of you coming from the UI Patterns and Techniques site, this is where you'll find the next step in that pattern catalog's evolution. That site began in 2002, and it grew into the book you see here. Before that, in 1997, my original UI pattern language called Common Ground was started at my MIT homepage site. Some of that material, though not a lot, made it into this book as well.

From the back of the book

Every day, more and more people depend upon interactive software -- applications, Web apps, mobiles, and other digital devices. When these are designed well, people are happier, safer, and more productive. Good interface design increases loyalty, reduces support costs, and can set a product head and shoulders above its competitors.

Do you want to design attractive, easy-to-use interfaces but aren't sure how? This book will help you. It captures design wisdom gleaned from many diverse sources: years of pre-Web application design, the best interactive web sites, and mobile devices such as cell phones and iPods. There are lots of good ideas out there that you can reuse. You don't need to reinvent the wheel.

Those ideas are presented here as a collection of patterns -- solutions to common design problems, tailored to the situation at hand. Each pattern contains practical design advice that you can put to use immediately, plus a variety of examples illustrated in full color. In addition, each chapter explains key concepts in interaction design and visual design. Topics include:

  • Information architecture for applications
  • Navigation
  • Page layout
  • Maps, graphs, and tables
  • Forms
  • Graphic editors
  • Color, typography, and look-and-feel

Designing Interfaces will be a valuable resources for software developers, interaction designers, graphic designers, and everyone who creates user-facing software. Use it when you're looking for solutions, to learn a specific technique, or when you just need a little creative help.

Jenifer Tidwell is an interaction designer and software developer, most recently for The MathWorks. She has been researching user interface patterns since 1997, and designing and building complex applications and web interfaces since 1991.