Jeff Johnson “Smart Design”


Jeff Johnson “Smart Design”

I have long wanted to write a review for this book and finally this moment has come.


Jeff Johnson’s book “Smart design. Simple techniques for developing user interfaces “ ( It should be noted right away that the publisher translated the title not quite correctly, which can be somewhat misleading. In the original, the title reads like this: “Designing with the Mind in Mind. Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules ”(, in Russian it will be something like“ Design with mind in mind. A Simple Guide to Understanding the Principles of User Interface Design. ” Do you feel the difference? That’s just it.

What is this book about

Frankly, if I had not seen this book on Amazon with good reviews, I would have passed it by. But in fact, the book is pretty good. It provides quite detailed explanations of certain principles of interface design from the side of cognitive psychology. And knowing where the legs of the rules grow from, you can apply them more meaningfully.

The author does not limit himself to describing the obvious design principles, as it might seem at first. By the middle of the book, for example, the problem analysis algorithm and the process of creating a conceptual model of the application are described, which seemed to me quite interesting and useful. And I would recommend reading the chapter on Gelstalt principles of visual perception to absolutely all graphic designers, regardless of their affiliation with interface design.

A spoon of tar

In the original, the book is printed in color and, accordingly, some chapters are illustrated with color illustrations. In our edition, everything is in B / W and you yourself understand that, for example, in the chapter about color perception, the lack of color in illustrations is somewhat upsetting.

Is it worth reading?

Yes, the publication of the book is not the best, there are problems with translation and external design. It is in paperback and is likely to wear out rather quickly (I periodically return to it to clarify something – that is, the book does not just lie on the shelf). Deepening into the topic of cognitive psychology can sometimes seem redundant and difficult to comprehend (perhaps, again, it’s a matter of translation) …

Despite all this, I recommend reading the book. It helps to look at the problems encountered in the work of a designer, more broadly and a little closer to understanding why a particular decision can be justified in a given situation. Of the last books I read, this one made the greatest impression on me.


I give her four Artemy Lebedev out of five. I subtract one because of the quality of the publication.

So it goes

A couple of months ago I read “Steal like an artist”, I will not write a separate post about it, I will just say that I also liked the book, there are not many super-discoveries of the century in it, but it is still interesting to read (I read it in the original, so at the same time and checked my English).

Author: Kamil Khadeev

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