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Visual Usability - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780123985361, 9780124017139

Visual Usability

1st Edition

Principles and Practices for Designing Digital Applications

Authors: Tania Schlatter Deborah Levinson
Paperback ISBN: 9780123985361
eBook ISBN: 9780124017139
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 21st March 2013
Page Count: 342
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Imagine how much easier creating web and mobile applications would be if you had a practical and concise, hands-on guide to visual design. Visual Usability gets into the nitty-gritty of applying visual design principles to complex application design.

You’ll learn how to avoid common mistakes, make informed decisions about application design, and elevate the ordinary. We’ll review three key principles that affect application design – consistency, hierarchy, and personality – and illustrate how to apply tools like typography, color, and layout to digital application design. Whether you’re a UI professional looking to fine-tune your skills, a developer who cares about making applications beautiful and usable, or someone entirely new to the design arena, Visual Usability is your one-stop, practical guide to visual design.

Key Features

  • Discover the principles and rules that underlie successful application design
  • Learn how to develop a rationale to support design strategy and move teams forward
  • Master the visual design toolkit to increase user-friendliness and make complicated processes feel straightforward for your product


designers and UI professionals

Secondary: students of usability courses, software developers and development teams

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Authors
  • Introduction
  • The challenge
  • Approach and organization
  • Embodying form and function
  • Part I: The Meta-Principles
    • Chapter 1. Consistency
      • What do we mean by consistency?
      • What role does consistency play in application design?
      • What if you can’t be consistent?
      • A brief aside about accessibility
      • Avoid common mistakes
      • Make informed decisions
      • Elevate the ordinary
    • Chapter 2. Hierarchy
      • What do we mean by hierarchy?
      • Characteristics of hierarchy
      • Interplay of characteristics
      • Defining a hierarchy
      • Avoid common mistakes
      • Make informed decisions
      • Elevate the ordinary
    • Chapter 3. Personality
      • Elements of interface personality
      • Establishing criteria for personality
      • Exploring a personality’s possibilities
      • Avoid common mistakes
      • Make informed decisions
      • Elevate the ordinary
  • Part II: The Visual Usability Tools
    • Chapter 4. Layout
      • The language of layout
      • Layout and the meta-principles
      • One big bite, or a few little ones?
      • Avoid common mistakes
      • Make informed decisions
      • Elevate the ordinary
    • Chapter 5. Type
      • The language of type
      • Typesetting considerations
      • How type affects the meta-principles
      • Defining a rationale for type
      • Avoid common mistakes
      • Make informed decisions
      • Elevate the ordinary
    • Chapter 6. Color
      • What color can do
      • Color basics
      • Defining a rationale for color
      • Avoid common mistakes
      • Make informed decisions
      • Elevate the ordinary
    • Chapter 7. Imagery
      • Communicating with images
      • Types of imagery and uses
      • Using images in your application
      • Imagery and the meta-principles
      • Avoid common mistakes
      • Make informed decisions
      • Elevate the ordinary
    • Chapter 8. Controls and Affordances
      • Using design to reveal affordances
      • Controls, affordances, and the meta-principles
      • Avoid common mistakes
      • Make informed decisions
      • Elevate the ordinary
      • Summary: Interface Design as Visual Conversation
      • Recommended Resources
      • Interaction, interface, and user experience design
      • Personality
      • Layout
      • Type
      • Color
      • Imagery
      • Controls and Affordances
  • Bibliography
  • Index


No. of pages:
© Morgan Kaufmann 2013
21st March 2013
Morgan Kaufmann
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Authors

Tania Schlatter

Affiliations and Expertise

Tania Schlatter is a visual designer and lecturer specializing in user-centered design.

Deborah Levinson

Affiliations and Expertise

Deborah Levinson is an interface designer and published author.


"This book provides very valuable information on how to improve the usability of visual human-computer interfaces…All of the chapters will interest researchers, practitioners, and students of usability, human-computer interaction, interaction design, graphic design, and other related fields who want to know more about the important and expanding area of visual usability."--Computing Reviews, May 28, 2014
"…an excellent choice for the instructor looking for a textbook detailing the major principles and practices of designing Web site or mobile device interfaces… Particularly effective is the authors’ running critique of the USDA Web site, SuperTracker, for its strengths and weaknesses in visual usability."--Technical Communication, May 2014
"With Tania Schlatter and Deborah Levinson at the helms, both proven experts in their fields, the book ‘visually’ takes you through all the various aspects of user experience design…This book is a pleasant surprise, and a joy to read."--Actual Insights blog, October 26, 2013
"Design veterans Schlatter and Levinson see a lot of digital applications that either look great or are highly functional, but not both, and contend that it does have to be that way. Drawing on heuristics and best practices from a variety of languages and disciplines, they explain how anyone involved in creating digital interfaces can define and defend a rationale for design decisions."--Reference & Research Book News, October 2013

Ratings and Reviews