Book Review: Designing the Moment

Robert Hoekman Jr. second book, Designing the Moment, focuses on improving the online user experience. His approach is a practical one: design interfaces that respect users and allow them to feel in control.

Robert’s goal is to inspire the web professional to “improve the moment” for users. His storytelling method of explaining strategies makes the 220 page book a quick and fun read. The book contains 30 stories, based on his own experiences, of real-world applications and the step-by-step approach taken toward resolving design interaction issues.

The stories are concise, and offer a critique of each phase as changes are made to interfaces. Robert has a “think out loud” method which allows the reader to better understand the decision making process. Question steps along the way and don’t hesitate to make decisions you might change in the future. Designing interfaces is an iterative process.

Designing the Moment assumes the reader has knowledge of web design and development; it does not provide the specific code to implement the recommendations. As Robert mentions in the book,

This book is meant as a conversation starter. It’s meant to get you thinking.

The book is divided into seven parts:

  • Part 1: Getting Oriented - give a good first impression to the user
  • Part 2: Learning - make it easier for users to find their way around
  • Part 3: Searching - improve the search interface
  • Part 4: Diving In - great tips on improving forms and video controls
  • Part 5: Participating - focus on social media
  • Part 6: Managing Information - how to manage lots of information
  • Part 7: Moving On - the sign out process

My favorite story in the book is in Chapter 7, where Robert discusses the simplicity of clear labels. Make it simple for users to to use our applications, provide users with simple, easy to understand labels and instructions. On forms or applications, rather than displaying an error message that the user didn’t enter information in a valid format, add informative text that explain what is acceptable.

Designing the Moment is a wonderful resource for information architects, usability experts, interaction designers and developers. I highly recommend it!