UI is Communication

UI is Communication

Share these actual insights

If you are not a frequent visitor of this blog, you might have missed my previous article on UX book publisher Morgan Kaufmann and 3 books they recently released. There was one book I did not mention, a fourth book, because I felt that this book deserved a blog post of its own.

UI is Communication

Everett McKay

Everett McKay

At Microsoft, Everett N. McKay, the author of UI is Communication, was on the Windows 7 and Windows Vista teams, and was responsible for managing, writing, and driving the Windows User Experience Interaction Guidelines (known as UX Guide for short).

Everett was quickly recognized as a voice in Microsoft’s user experience design community, and established himself as a thought leader in areas such as guidelines-based design, scenario-based design, effective use of value propositions and personas, UI text design, wizard design, designing trustworthy user experiences, and simplicity.

(Source: LinkedIN)

Now, with the release of his user experience book UI is Communication – How to design intuitive, user-centered interfaces by focusing on effective communication, Everett is sharing his knowledge and experiences openly.

Visually Inclined2

Being a self-taught person, I am in all honesty a practical and visually inclined person.

My interest in usability, user experience, and UI design stems partially from these personal traits. Now, even though you will catch me reading books like Greg Nudelman’s Designing Search, I love to get inspired by books like UI is Communication.

The book’s good use of visual examples is applaudable. Everett McKay does seem to have a good sense of humor, as he has interjected several humorous photo’s and comments throughout the book. It has definitely helped keep the book enjoyable to read.

A Good Balance Of Examples

UI is CommunicationWhat I enjoyed about the book, is that it did not only focus on the internet, or any specific operating system. It is filled with great examples that discuss the many different facets of a user interface and the influence and effects it can have on its users.

Communication-, Visual-, and Interaction design topics are all covered in this book with each chapter ending with a summary and an exercise.

About two-thirds of the way through Everett McKay ties all the topics together and dives into, what he calls, the Communication-Driven Design Process and its Planning-, Design, and Refinement phases.

Just One Comment

The book is very actual (although iOS 6 examples are given in some cases) and the examples it shows are very clear. There is just one thing that I would like to have seen different.

When Everett gives an example, he annotates each example as ‘Communicates Well’ or ‘Communicates Poorly’. However, when a poor example is given, there is no follow up example or explanation of how it could be fixed. I say ‘could’ and not ‘should’ because design remains a subjective topic.

One solution might work for some, but fail for others.

Where to buy?

The book has been published, in paperback and in ebook format, by Morgan Kaufmann (Elsevier), but is available in different online stores and I can highly recommend getting yourself a copy.

UI is Communication by Everett McKay can be bought at:

The Photo

For those of you who got this far in the article and are curious to know more about the article photo ‘Please Press Both Buttons To Flush’. I took this photo in a client’s office bathroom. It struck me as ridiculous, a sort of CAPTCHA form for being able to flush the toilet.

According to Everett McKay UI is communication and proper UI does not require instructions. This toilet obviously fails in every degree.

About Matthew Niederberger

Matthew works as Conversion Optimisation Manager at Ziggo BV. In his free time he enjoys family life as well as digging into online user research material whilst frequently generating some of his own, which he freely shares here on actualinsights.com.


  1. […] basics can combine to produce positive interactive user experiences. Like Everett McKay’s UI is Communication, this book is definitely worth looking at to understand more about UI and the philosophy of […]

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