Designing the Moment

Robert Hoekman Jr, the author of Designing the Obvious, has written yet another book on interaction design, Designing the Moment. This time he get’s down and dirty with the nitty gritty details of web- and interaction design. In this book he uses a variety of real-world examples to describe, in great detail, how and why to design all the small details of navigation, forms, video interfaces, tag clouds and more.

I had high expectations on this book since I really liked Designing the Obvious. And I have to say that it met my expectations. It’s fun to read and provides lots of interesting examples on great interaction design.

Where Designing the Obvious was on a higher level with a more theoretical approach to design, Designing the Moment is more a hands-on book. It’s about how to actually design all those interactions. In this book Robert dissects the different aspects that makes the different elements well designed.

A word of warning though. If you’re looking for a book that teaches you how to implement the designs, this book is not for you. This book provides proof of concepts but not how to actually code it.


In Designing the Obvious Robert presented seven principles for good interaction design. I don’t know if it’s just pure coincidence that this book is separated in seven parts, each focusing on a different aspect of design? Since seven, plus minus two, is known as the number of items a person can hold in his short term memory, I suspect that some serious thinking has been going on here. Never the less, here’s the seven parts:

Part 1: Getting Oriented

This part is about getting the user to quickly understand what the web application is all about and where to start. It’s about how to give a good first impression. This is done by providing examples of how to layout the pages and to give the application personality. It’s also about how to style links and tag clouds and how to structure menus.

Part 2: Learning

To communicate with the user and provide good instructions is a crucial part of a web application. This part of the book is about writing good copy and how to structure information to increase scannability. It also provides example of when it’s better to use video over text to tell the user how to do something.

Part 3: Searching

In this part of the book Robert gives example on how to improve searches by using auto-completes as a Poka-yoke device. He also gives good advices on how tho use pagination in a good fashion and how to make Advanced Search less intimidating.

Part 4: Diving In

In “Diving in”, the book talks about interaction details that the user encounters while using a web application. It provides ideas about how to design forms, wizards and video controls. It also has some interesting thought on how to design the sign in process.

Part 5: Participating

In this part Robert has some really interesting thoughts on how to design for social media. It’s about how to progressively building user profiles and about connecting with other people.

Part 6: Managing Information

To manage information is important, especially when there’s lots of it. This part of the book is about how to enable the user to find the right content and to interact with it in a proper manner.

Part 7: Moving On

Part 7 is about how to (and how not to) design the sign out process. It’s also about how to handle things if the user chooses to abandon your application.

My take

The major point that Robert is trying to make is that every little detail counts. Every part of the interaction is an opportunity to enhance or destroy the experience for the user. All of those small details add up to the total impression of the application. That’s the essence of Designing the Moment. To really try to make the best of all of those small moments.

All in all I think this book makes for a good read. It’s written in a easy-to-read language and is nicely designed with lots of color images illustrating the different examples. This book is about how to actually design the different interactions in explicit detail. So if you’re interested in some great examples on how to design great interaction and why to design it that way, this book is definitively is for you.

I highly recommend it!

Designing the Moment
Author: Robert Hoekman, Jr.
Publisher: New Riders 2008
ISBN-10: 0-321-53508-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-321-53508-5