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  • Writer's pictureRob George

User Interface: Basis for Good Product Behavior + Posture + Designing for Desktop (Week 4)

This week is on chapters 7, 9, and 18 of About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, and Christopher Noessel.

Below are brief summaries of what is talked about in each section of this reading.


Basis for Good Product Behavior

This section of About Face starts by discussing a few design values, principles, and patterns every designer should know when creating good product behavior.

VALUE 1: Ethical Interaction Design (Considerate, Helpful)

DO NO HARM: Products shouldn't do any harm to users.

There are several types of harms a product could cause:

Interpersonal harm (loss of dignity, insult, humiliation)

Psychological harm (confusion, discomfort, frustration, coercion, boredom)

Physical harm (pain, injury, deprivation, death, compromised safety)

Economic harm (loss of profits, loss of productivity, loss of wealth or savings)

Social and societal harm (exploitation, creation, or perpetuation of injustice)

Environmental harm (pollution, elimination of biodiversity)

IMPROVE HUMAN SITUATIONS: Designers should keep these situations that interactions might improve in the back of their minds:

Increasing understanding (individual, social, cultural)

Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of individuals and groups

Improving communication between individuals and groups

Reducing sociocultural tensions between individuals and groups

Improving equity (financial, social, legal)

Balancing cultural diversity with social cohesion

VALUE 2: Purposeful Interaction Design (Useful, Useable)

Goal-Directed process helps achieve purposeful design by "not only understanding users' goals but also understanding their limitations. It should describe users' strength, weaknesses, and blind spots."

VALUE 3: Pragmatic Interaction Design (Viable and Feasible)

"After the product is built, it needs to be deployed in the world. And after it is deployed, it needs to provide benefits to its owners."

There needs to be clear communication between business, engineering, and design groups on boundaries for the product which should be flexible. There must be a mutual relationship built on trust and respect to get a product ready in time and to make it beneficial for the user.

VALUE 4: Elegant Interaction Design (Efficient, Artful, Affective)

REPRESENT THE SIMPLE COMPLETE SOLUTION: The whole "Less is More" thing where designers should solve problems with the fewest additions and make their design as simple as possible without taking too much away.

POSSES INTERNAL COHERENCE: All Parts of the design are balanced and in harmony. Everything has its place and nothing is cluttered together.

APPROPRIATELY ACCOMMODATE & STIMULATE COGNITION AND EMOTION: The user is frequently feeling the urge of desire when using the product. It keeps them stimulated and provides cognitive and emotional support.



About Face lists many design principles that address issues of behavior, form, and content. They encourage design of product behaviors through a set of rules based on our values and experiences as designers. "These principles help translate tasks and requirements that arise from scenarios into formalized structures and behaviors in the interface."

Conceptual principles help define what digital products should be like and how

they fit structurally into the broad context of use required by their users.

Behavioral principles describe how a product should behave—in general and in

specific contexts.

Interface-level principles describe effective strategies for the organization,

navigation, and communication of behavior and information.



Design patterns help the designer find solutions that help solve similar problems.


Reduce design time and effort on new projects

Improve the quality of design solutions

Facilitate communication between designers and developers

Educate designers

Some Things To Know About Patterns

1. Interaction Design Patterns should focus on: structure, organization of elements, dynamic behaviors, and changes in elements in response to user activity.

2. Patterns are always Context Specific: common design situations share "similar contexts, constraints, tensions, and forces."

3. There is always a slight difference of components in patterns which means these are not easy-to-use templates.

Types of Patterns

Postural patterns can be applied at the conceptual level and help determine the overall product stance in relation to the user.

Structural patterns solve problems that relate to the arrangement of information and functional elements on the screen.

Behavioral patterns solve wide-ranging problems relating to specific interactions with functional or data elements.



There are three kinds of postures for the desktop interface design.

1. Sovereign Posture

Sovereign postures are applications that keep the attention of users for long periods of time. They tend to have a large amount of features and are full screen applications. Designers shouldn't be afraid to take up screen real estate because that is what they are meant to do. They should be able to be fully resizable and work well with screen configurations. They use a Minimal Visual Style which include: mute colors and textures, are kept narrow and conservative, use tiny dots or accent colors, and the toolbars and controls can be smaller than normal.

Example: Microsoft Office applications

2. Transient Posture

Transient postures "come and go" and only appear when needed. The interface should be obvious, helpful, present controls clearly and boldly, spell out what it does, have big buttons, large and easy to read typeface, and should not take up more space than necessary. They should be small and out of the way, moveable, and not distracting.

Examples: Windows File Explorer

3. Daemonic Posture

Daemonic postures are applications that don't interact with users. They are occasionally installed and removed by the user but most of the time the user is unaware of this interface. Little icons in the corner of the screen to show status of the interface.

Examples: Control panels on Mac OS and Windows

Thank you for reading!

View my User Interface Page for more!

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