e-testing Blog

Book Review – The inmates are running the asylum

Alan Cooper, The Inmates are Running the Asylum, SAMS, 1999
ISBN 0-672-31649-8.
Hardback, pp 246

Cost Approx £25.00
Amazon.co.uk Link

Read this book and it will probably change forever your perception of “Usability Testing”, and what the user wants. Such concepts as “Dancing-bear-ware” are introduced with humour and perception: you may even find yourself looking for silly everyday examples of technology in use where the interface was not designed for the end user. The whole thesis is that the user interface needs to be designed at the beginning, rather than be left to the development team to deliver what they think the user wants, as they know best (what the user wants from the interface, rather than the end functionality). Sometimes, just sometimes, the use of interactive design at an early stage can influence not only the interface, but also the whole mainstream functionality. In addition all this may affect the ultimate success of the developed product (which may not necessarily be software). Alan Cooper has several books behind him (e.g. “About Face: The Essentials of User Design”), and is credited with much of the success of the User Interface of Visual Basic. This book will (probably) make you think more of “the user”, and how (s)he perceives the wonderful new addition to his/her working day. It may even help you to help your users!

Published on-line on Unicom’s Testing Bulletin, Edition 6
Reviewed by Peter Morgan, Principal Consultant

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