Book Review: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity is highly recommended for those involved in the creation of software or hardware to customers who are not incredibly technical. Alan Cooper starts by ripping into the notion that the lay user who can’t figure out how to work a tech product isn’t “computer literate,” instead arguing that we – the software developers – are the ones to blame. His big theme is “interaction design” (not UI design, but interface design) which makes a whole lot of sense. He then moves into really useful tips for crafting requirements docs by creating user personas so the classic manager/programmer argument is more grounded.

Putting aside the repetition, somewhat dated gripes about problems that have now been solved (but now there are just new problems, after all) and the silly use of big vocabulary to show he has it, this is a great book that frankly kicks the butt of Joel on Software as a guide aimed to the technologically-savvy businessperson (as opposed to the business-savvy technologist).

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