About the book

Make it So: Interface Design Lessons from Sci-Fi is a book by Nathan Shedroff & Christopher Noessel, published by Rosenfeld Media in September 2012.

From the introduction

Being an interaction designer colors how you watch science fiction. Of course you’re enjoying all of the hyperspacey, laser-flinging, computer-hacking action like everyone else, but you can’t help but evaluate the interfaces when they appear. You are curious if they’ll disable the tractor beam in time, but you also find yourself wondering, “Could it really work that way? Should it work that way? How could it work better? And, of course, Can I get the interfaces I design in my own work to be this cool or even cooler?”

We asked ourselves these questions with each new TV show and each new film we watched, and we realized that for every eye-roll-worthy moment of technological stupidity, there are genuine lessons to be learned—practical lessons to be drawn from the very public, almost outsider-art interfaces that appear in the more than 100 years of sci-fi cinema and television. Then we wondered what we would learn from looking at not just one or even a dozen of them but as many as we could.

This book is the result of that inquiry, an analysis of interfaces in sci-fi films and TV shows, with lessons that interface and interaction designers can use in their real-world practice. We’ve learned a great deal in writing it, and we want to share those lessons with you.


Designers who love science fiction (and don’t we all?) will go bananas over Shedroff and Noessel’s delightful and informative book on how interaction design in sci-fi movies informs interaction design in the real world. Many movie interfaces are remarkably creative, effective, and useful, and the authors analyze and deconstruct more than a century of cinema to find the best. With dozens of familiar examples, they illuminate some of the trickier aspects of designing how complex future systems interface with humans. You will find it as useful as any design textbook, but a whole lot more fun.
Alan Cooper
Alan Cooper
President of interaction design company Cooper
“Father of Visual Basic”
author The Inmates are Running the Asylum
Part futurist treatise, part design manual, and part cultural analysis, Make It So is a fascinating investigation of an often-overlooked topic: How sci-fi influences the development of tomorrow’s machine interfaces.
Annalee Newitz
Annalee Newitz
io9 blog
Shedroff and Noessel are leaders in their fields. Make It So is well-researched, pragmatic, and entertaining. They The authors show us that science fiction can not only give us visions of the future but it can help us design a better future as well.
Brian David Johnson
Brian David Johnson
Futurist and Director
Future Casting and Experience Research
Intel Corporation

Sci-fi interfaces are a peculiar niche that have both fascinated and influenced the expectations and desires of both movie watchers and interface creators for many years. After being closely involved in the thinking, creation, and application of interfaces in science fiction films for many years, and also the design and production of practical user interfaces, it has been both revealing and refreshing to see a book that, for the first time, so deeply explores the contrasts, connections, and influences from the realm of fantasy to the real.

Chris Noessel and Nathan Shedroff and Noessel have created one of the most thorough and insightful studies ever made of this domain and from a unique angle, not only providing comprehensive coverage of the vast number of examples, but also drawing practical and valuable lessons that inform and can be applied to the problems we think about every day.

Mark Coleran
Mark Coleran
Visual designer of interfaces for movies
Credits include The Bourne Identity, The Island,
and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

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