COVID-19 Update: We are currently shipping orders daily. However, due to transit disruptions in some geographies, deliveries may be delayed. To provide all customers with timely access to content, we are offering 50% off Science and Technology Print & eBook bundle options. Terms & conditions.
Designing with the Mind in Mind - 2nd Edition - ISBN: 9780124079144, 9780124115569

Designing with the Mind in Mind

2nd Edition

Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Guidelines

0.0 star rating Write a review
Author: Jeff Johnson
eBook ISBN: 9780124115569
Paperback ISBN: 9780124079144
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 7th February 2014
Page Count: 250
Sales tax will be calculated at check-out Price includes VAT/GST
Price includes VAT/GST

Institutional Subscription

Secure Checkout

Personal information is secured with SSL technology.

Free Shipping

Free global shipping
No minimum order.


In this completely updated and revised edition of Designing with the Mind in Mind, Jeff Johnson provides you with just enough background in perceptual and cognitive psychology that user interface (UI) design guidelines make intuitive sense rather than being just a list or rules to follow.

Early UI practitioners were trained in cognitive psychology, and developed UI design rules based on it. But as the field has evolved since the first edition of this book, designers enter the field from many disciplines. Practitioners today have enough experience in UI design that they have been exposed to design rules, but it is essential that they understand the psychology behind the rules in order to effectively apply them.

In this new edition, you'll find new chapters on human choice and decision making, hand-eye coordination and attention, as well as new examples, figures, and explanations throughout.

Key Features

  • Provides an essential source for user interface design rules and how, when, and why to apply them
  • Arms designers with the science behind each design rule, allowing them to make informed decisions in projects, and to explain those decisions to others
  • Equips readers with the knowledge to make educated tradeoffs between competing rules, project deadlines, and budget pressures
  • Completely updated and revised, including additional coverage on human choice and decision making, hand-eye coordination and attention, and new mobile and touch-screen examples throughout


Interface designers and developers, software designers, web designers, web application designers, interaction designers, appliance designers and developers, information architects, usability engineers, usability evaluators and development managers, students and teachers in computer science, graphic design, HCI, and usability.

Table of Contents




User-Interface Design Rules: Where do they come from and how can they be used Effectively?

User-Interface Design and Evaluation Requires Understanding and Experience

Comparing User-Interface Design Guidelines

Where do Design Guidelines come from?

Intended Audience of this Book

Chapter 1. Our Perception is Biased


Perception Biased by Experience

Perception Biased by Current Context

Perception Biased by Goals

Taking Biased Perception into Account When Designing

Chapter 2. Our Vision is Optimized to See Structure


Gestalt Principle: Proximity

Gestalt Principle: Similarity

Gestalt Principle: Continuity

Gestalt Principle: Closure

Gestalt Principle: Symmetry

Gestalt Principle: Figure/Ground

Gestalt Principle: Common Fate

Gestalt Principles: Combined

Chapter 3. We Seek and Use Visual Structure


Structure Enhances People’s Ability to Scan Long Numbers

Data-Specific Controls Provide Even More Structure

Visual Hierarchy Lets People Focus on the Relevant Information

Chapter 4. Our Color Vision is Limited


How Color Vision Works

Vision is Optimized for Contrast, Not Brightness

The Ability to Discriminate Colors Depends on How Colors are Presented


External Factors that Influence the Ability to Distinguish Colors

Guidelines for Using Color

Chapter 5. Our Peripheral Vision is Poor


Resolution of the Fovea Compared to the Periphery

Is the Visual Periphery Good for Anything?

Examples from Computer User Interfaces

Common Methods of Making Messages Visible

Heavy Artillery for Making Users Notice Messages

Visual Search is Linear Unless Targets “Pop” in the Periphery

Chapter 6. Reading is Unnatural


We’re Wired for Language, but not for Reading

Is Reading Feature-Driven or Context-Driven?

Skilled and Unskilled Reading use Different Parts of the Brain

Poor Information Design can Disrupt Reading

Much of the Reading Required by Software is Unnecessary

Test on Real Users

Chapter 7. Our Attention is Limited; Our Memory is Imperfect


Short- Versus Long-Term Memory

A Modern View of Memory

Characteristics of Attention and Working Memory

Implications of Working Memory Characteristics for User-Interface Design

Characteristics of Long-Term Memory

Implications of Long-Term Memory Characteristics for User-Interface Design

Chapter 8. Limits on Attention Shape Our Thought and Action


We Focus on Our Goals and Pay Little Attention to Our Tools

We Notice Things More When they are Related to Our Goals

We Use External Aids to Keep Track of What we are Doing

We Follow the Information “Scent” Toward Our Goal

We Prefer Familiar Paths

Our Thought Cycle: Goal, Execute, Evaluate

After We Achieve a task’s Primary Goal, We Often Forget Cleanup Steps

Chapter 9. Recognition is Easy; Recall is Hard


Recognition is Easy

Recall is Hard

Recognition Versus Recall: Implications for User-Interface Design

Chapter 10. Learning from Experience and Performing Learned Actions are Easy; Novel Actions, Problem Solving, and Calculation are Hard


We have Three Brains

We have Two Minds

Learning from Experience is (Usually) Easy

Performing Learned Actions is Easy

Performing Novel Actions is Hard

Problem Solving and Calculation are Hard

Implications for User-Interface Design

Answers to Puzzles

Chapter 11. Many Factors Affect Learning


We Learn Faster when Practice is Frequent, Regular, and Precise

We Learn Faster when Operation is Task Focused, Simple, and Consistent

We Learn Faster when Vocabulary is Task Focused, Familiar, and Consistent

When Risk is Low, we Explore More and Learn More

Chapter 12. Human Decision Making is Rarely Rational


People are Often Irrational

Losses Mean More to us Than Gains

We are Biased by how Choices are Worded

We are Biased by Our Vivid Imaginations and Memories

Exploiting Strengths and Weaknesses of Human Cognition

Chapter 13. Our Hand–Eye Coordination Follows Laws


Fitts’ Law: Pointing at Displayed Targets

Steering Law: Moving Pointers Along Constrained Paths

Chapter 14. We Have Time Requirements


Responsiveness Defined

The Many Time Constants of the Human Brain

Engineering Approximations of time Constants: Orders of Magnitude

Designing to Meet Real-Time Human Interaction Deadlines

Additional Guidelines for Achieving Responsive Interactive Systems

Achieving Responsiveness is Important




Appendix. Well-known User-Interface Design Rules

Norman (1983a)

Shneiderman (1987); Shneiderman and Plaisant (2009)

Nielsen and Molich (1990)

Nielsen and Mack (1994)

Stone et al. (2005)

Johnson (2007)




No. of pages:
© Morgan Kaufmann 2014
7th February 2014
Morgan Kaufmann
eBook ISBN:
Paperback ISBN:

About the Author

Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco. He is also a principal at Wiser Usability, a consultancy focused on elder usability. After earning B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale and Stanford, he worked as a UI designer, implementer, manager, usability tester, and researcher at Cromemco, Xerox, US West, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun. He has taught at Stanford, Mills, and the University of Canterbury. He is a member of the ACM SIGCHI Academy and a recipient of SIGCHI's Lifetime Achievement in Practice Award. He has authored articles on a variety of topics in HCI, as well as the books GUI Bloopers (1st and 2nd eds.), Web Bloopers, Designing with the Mind in Mind (1st and 2nd eds.), Conceptual Models: Core to Good Design (with Austin Henderson), and Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population (with Kate Finn).

Affiliations and Expertise

President and Principal Consultant, UI Wizards, Inc.


"The clear writing style, comprehensive coverage of common design decisions, and the reference to human psychology that provide the theoretical support for these decisions make it a solid addition to your personal or professional library."--User Experience Magazine, 2014

“Even if you are working for many years in the field of UX, it is worth reading this book…you learn a lot of interesting background information that can help one to question existing rules, to consider their own experiences and to establish well-founded decisions.”, July 10, 2014.

"...easy and captivating reading, something not commonly encountered in a nonfiction work on an important subject…software developers and anyone else who may be concerned with designing good user interfaces should read this book.", Aug 28, 2014.

"…the authors provide an excellent selection of topics and examples that constitutes necessary knowledge for everyone involved in designing user interfaces, and perhaps even all software engineers…The book is easy to read for novice audiences, students and particularly practitioners. It is well illustrated with plenty of examples."--HCI International News, May 2014

"…guide to user interface design based on the science of human perception and memory. Each chapter focus on a particular limiting aspect of the human mind, including priming or experience bias in our perceptions, looking for visual structure, poor quality of color and peripheral vision, the high cognitive load of reading…", April 2014

"What's really good about the book is that Johnson provides ample details about the topic, but doesn't reduce it to so just a set of rules or mind-numbing (and thusly unreadable) checklists. His synopsis of the topics provides the reader with a broad understanding of the topic and what they need to do in order to ensure effective UI design is executed.", April 28, 2014

"In this valuable traversal of human cognition, Jeff Johnson illuminates its operation and exposes everyday fallacies and misunderstandings through examples and explanations. The results provide a useful education for everyone, but one that is essential for designers. If you are curious about the human mind, you will enjoy this book: if you are a designer, you need it."--Don Norman, Nielsen Norman group and Author of Design of Everyday Things, revised and expanded edition

"Need to know about how things really work in the mind of your users? Designing with the Mind in Mind is a treasure trove, packed with insightful information about the cognitive pitfalls, perceptual glitches, and usability errors that plague user interfaces. DWTMIM is a book every designer needs to read, if only to understand why your brilliant user experience might not actually work in reality, and what brain science suggests you do about fixing it."--Dan Russell, Senior Research Scientist, Search Quality, Google

"Several excellent books ago, Jeff Johnson figured out that the way to reveal user interface design is to emphasize concrete examples. This book is organized around 14 fundamental and wide-ranging insights about human psychology that are vividly grounded and applied in design examples. The book will be useful to professionals who can quickly inform or remind themselves of how user interface design guidelines work, and it will engage and equip students entering this exciting area."--John M. Carroll, Distinguished Professor of Information Sciences and Technology, The Pennsylvania State University

Ratings and Reviews