A Book Apart

Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher Design for Real Life

You can’t know every user, but you can develop inclusive practices to create experiences that support a wider range of people, more of the time.

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You can’t always predict who will use your products, or what emotional state they’ll be in when they do. But by identifying stress cases and designing with compassion, you’ll create experiences that support more of your users, more of the time.

Join Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer as they turn examples from more than a dozen sites and services into a set of principles you can apply right now. Whether you’re a designer, developer, content strategist, or anyone who creates user experiences, you’ll gain the practical knowledge to test where your designs might fail (before you ship!), vet new features or interactions against more realistic scenarios, and build a business case for making decisions through a lens of kindness. You can’t know every user, but you can develop inclusive practices that support a wider range of people. This book will show you how.

Topics Covered

  • Challenge Your Vision
  • Make Space for Real People
  • Incorporate Stress Cases
  • Communicate Context and Intent
  • Cultivate Compassion
  • Learn from Users
  • Humanize Your Process
  • Make the Case

The only user scenarios that matter are our users’ real lives. In this courageous and compassionate book, full of wisdom and methods not collected anywhere else, Eric and Sara guide us through scenarios previously in the dark.

Liz Danzico
Chair and cofounder, MFA Interaction Design at SVA and VP of design at NPR
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Kurt Vonnegut said that there was only one rule: ‘You’ve got to be kind.’ This book is what happens when two people apply that rule to building great digital products. It’s about building interfaces that are truly, genuinely human. Anyone who aspires to build global products that people love should read this book now.

Paul Ford
Cofounder of Postlight and author of What Is Code
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This book is so needed. The methods and techniques Sara and Eric share will improve your design and writing processes—and more important, will change the way you think about your users. Other books tell you how to design for idealized personas, but this one shows you how to design and write for actual humans. It will be required reading on my team.

Kate Kiefer Lee
Head of communications and corporate affairs at MailChimp and coauthor of Nicely Said
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Eric Meyer

About the Authors

Eric A. Meyer started working on the web in late 1993. Since then, he’s been a college webmaster, one of the original CSS Samurai, a standards evangelist at Netscape, the author of many books and online resources, an occasional code artist, the technical lead at Rebecca’s Gift, and a cofounder of An Event Apart. He lives with his family in Cleveland.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher

Sara Wachter-Boettcher is an author, speaker, coach, strategist, and the founder of Active Voice, a company helping tech and design workers become radical, courageous leaders. In addition to Design for Real Life, she’s also the author of Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and other Threats of Toxic Tech and Content Everywhere. She has been published in The Washington Post, The Guardian, and McSweeney’s.

Product Details

  • ISBN: 978-1-952616-37-2
  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Published: Mar 8, 2016

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