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“Visual interface design for Windows” front cover
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Virginia Howlett
Visual interface design for Windows
Effective user interfaces for Windows® 95, Windows NT™, and Windows 3.1™

Wiley, 1996
230 pages
ISBN: 0-4711-3419-8

A thin book that can be enjoyed in one evening, “Visual interface design for Windows” is in many ways a good companion to Designing visual interfaces. It’s slightly more specific, but don’t let that title fool you – many advices are universal, and Windows serves mainly only as an example. And what an example it is! Virginia Howlett, a leader of Microsoft user interface team for Windows 95 (and the co-author of the famous Verdana font) made screenshots of various multimedia titles, prototypes and before-and-after comparisons of redesigned software. And these screenshots seem to be the book’s finest asset.
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Back cover blurb

The following paragraphs are quoted verbatim from the back cover:

Learn from the leader of the Windows interface design teams

“This book is a resource that everyone working with Windows should have.” – Tony Fernandes, Manager of Human Interface, Netscape Corporation.

When it comes to the art and science of great Windows interface design, few people are as knowledgeable as Virginia Howlett. As Director of Visual Interface Design at Microsoft, Virginia Howlett headed the team that designed the visual interfaces for Windows 3.1, Windows NT, and Windows 95. Now, in this illuminating book, she shares everything she knows about designing the most visually functional, usable, and attractive Windows applications possible.

Virginia Howlett draws upon several topics, including design aesthetics, human factors, and the psychology of visual perception. She uses these to develop a set of concrete Windows interface design principles that developers and designers can apply in their everyday work.

Along the way, Howlett supplies you with all the hands-on information and software development techniques you need to put these concepts into practice in your own interface design – and redesign – efforts.

This visually stunning guide practices what it preaches. Its numerous full-color examples of both good and bad interfaces and graphics for the Windows environment are a source of enlightenment and inspiration.

You gain a basic command of critical interface topics, including:
The Windows interface design process
Components of a Windows interface, including color, fonts, and icons
The vital aesthetic parameters built into the Windows interface
Windows interface design decision making and strategies
Basic graphic design and visual perception principles and how to apply them

Virginia Howlett is Director of Visual Interface Design at Microsoft, where she managed the visual design of Windows 3.1, Windows NT, and Windows 95. Prior to joining Microsoft, she was a university professor of art and design.


Part one: Foundation
1. An introduction to visual interface design3
2. The effect of visual impact19
3. The process for designing visual interfaces31
4. Developing a visual interface design strategy39
Part two: Graphic design principles
5. Universal design principles51
6. Graphic information design principles65
Part three: Visual perception
7. An introduction to the psychology of perception83
8. Affordances, realism, and dimensions95
9. Design for the screen109
Part four: Visual design elements
10. Color123
11. Icons and imagery137
12. Fonts149
Part five: Advice, tips, and examples
13. Interface makeovers163
14. Great Windows interfaces I have met185
15. Common pitfalls and how to avoid them199

Page added on 7th October 2005.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.