Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant reveal the untold story of a paradigm that quietly rules our modern lives: the assumption that machines should anticipate what we need. Spanning over a century of sweeping changes, this book unpacks the ways in which the world has been―and continues to be―remade according to the principles of the once-obscure discipline of user-experience design.
This story has been told many times, but the authors put it in a new context as a novel master metaphor: the computer no longer an electronic beast demanding human care and feeding as in the punch-card era but a compact and conscientious personal assistant ... On balance, User Friendly is a tour de force, an engrossing fusion of scholarly research, professional experience and revelations from intrepid firsthand reporting ... The book’s single weakness may be that it shortchanges the history of user-friendly design in this country.
Biographical information about some of the creators gives insight into how and why technologies were designed, grounding readers in storytelling rather than in technological jargon. By the end of the book, readers will have a better understanding of the ubiquitous term. Those interested in the backgrounds of technologies such as self-driving cars, the Facebook Like button, and even transportation systems will be intrigued to learn about their evolution ... Kuang and Fabricant offer accessible and thought-provoking insights into the ways that user-friendly design has influenced our lives, along with a contextual history of technology not available in many other books.
With a snappy tone and a desire to get to the bottom of some burning questions, Kuang’s research is clear and direct as he tells the stories of many a catastrophe and the subsequent investigations; of wide-spread problems and the discovery of solutions. It’s almost incredible that the culprit (or the hero) in all of these situations was design! ... While Kuang and Fabricant do a fine job in addressing how technology got where it is today, they don’t make a peep about how we can use design to mitigate against the broad, sneaky, creeping infiltration that threatens our very identities. If anything, this book sounds an alarm for what design training programs need to be proactively including ... On the one hand, this book is really pretty cool. But on the other hand there is an unsettling awareness of what is silently festering beneath the surface. User Friendly offers a wild, eye opening ride through the evolution of the psychological perceptions and unfathomable applications of technology.