"The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity"
by Alan Cooper
Reading history and reviews
Finished in 2007I first heard about Alan Cooper when someone recommended his book (with Robert Reimann) About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design, back in 2005. I found many of their ideas for making software that is better for people to use fascinating, and it changed my perspective on both the software that I use (I'm more aware and less tolerant of poor design) and that I'm involved in making (which still may be poorly designed but I think are getting better).
This book is a good companion to "About Face", and in some ways I wish that I'd read this one first as "Inmates..." is the "business case" for why good design matters, and why existing ways of making software products (which he defines as anything with a computer in it - cameras, washing machines, cars, airplanes...) are flawed. I'm not sure that I agree with everything that he says, however like "About Face" it offers many thought-provoking comments (and amusing anecdotes) on software users and programmers and their cultures. Well worth a read if you have anything at all to do with making (or using software).