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Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning 1st Edition

39 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321392350
ISBN-10: 0321392353
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dan Brown has been practicing information architecture and user experience design since 1994. Through his consulting work in both public and private sectors, he has improved enterprise communications for both Federal and Fortune 500 clients, currently the Federal Communications Commission. Dan writes and speaks frequently on information architecture, and contributed to the inaugural issue of UX Matters, a new online magazine dedicated to user experience design. Dan is very active in the local Washington, DC information architecture community, and serves on the advisory board for the Information Architecture Institute.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (September 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321392353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321392350
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,024,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 84 people found the following review helpful By antenna on November 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you work in a large team in a big corporation, and use conventional rather than agile approaches to web development, you may find this book very useful. It has advice not just on what tools to employ, when, and why, but also how to interact with clients and specialists in various roles during every stage of website genesis/ontogeny, from strategy to execution (via usability tests, concept mapping, wireframes and much more).

As a one-person band with a very small budget, I found big chunks of it rather idealistic, somehow old-fashioned, and not very relevant to my own circumstances. The usability / market research specialist? The information architect? Those would be me. The programmer? The graphic designer? Oh, those would be me too. And the person making sure that the words and images are suitable for the web as a medium? Me again.

I wanted some advice on best practice for (a) documenting decisions made (and reasons for making them) and (b) highlighting consequences of those decisions (and reasons) for future work. I was quite surprised not to see much discussion about how to document (b), which in my experience is often a huge hole in documentation.

Also, the processes I use are much more agile than those described in the book, which doesn't cover how to document development using agile methods. This is a shame, because I think more and more developers are moving in this direction.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By S. Harrison TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Part of the value of this book is the promise that the author will provide templates and examples. This promise is worth zero. If you go to the companion website, there is a note from the author that says, essentially, "Ooops, so sorry. Got too busy." Just a tad unprofessional? I guess different people have different perspectives on such things.

Call me crazy, but one would think that the author would have had a whole stack of examples and templates BEFORE he wrote the book. How else would he know what documents are needed? Just a rhetorical question.....

The book itself is useful, don't get me wrong. I am just very disappointed in the lack of companion material. Other reviews very adequately cover the content.

In terms of practical help, AND downloadable templates, I vastly prefer Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works (2nd Edition) by Kelly Goto.

Kelly Goto's advice saved my tail when I was a newbie in the field (waaaaay back in the dark ages of the 20th century), and still has relevance for me today.

Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works (2nd Edition) (VOICES)


UPDATE: August 2008: nothing has changed on the companion website, [...] Quite frankly, it looks like it has been abandoned.

UPDATE: February 4, 2010: The author finally has updated the site. However, as of this date, there are still no templates or other downloads as far as I can tell. Looks like the author has turned it into a blog. You might want to check it out and see if any progress has been made. Since Amazon won't allow a web address to appear in a review, you can figure it out from the title of the book.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Manny Hernandez HALL OF FAME on December 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Dan Brown did it. I never imagined someone would pull it off, but he came up with a meta-web development communication book, a book about the process of putting together user needs, strategy and web design documents. In these three categories, he covers the ten web site communication deliverables he considers to be of most value, taking the reader through a structure that will help in the process of conception, construction, presentation to others and context.

I found the concept of Personas he introduced very interesting (and innovative in the web development space) and later picked up a book that specialized on the topic ("The User Is Always Right" by Steve Mulder and Ziv Yaar) to learn more about it. In terms of the rest of the concepts he introduced, if you are a seasoned web producer/development specialist, you may not find most of them to be new, but seeing the whole package in front of you will be useful and refresh items you know to be of importance. If you are becoming acquainted with this area, the book will become a permanent reference you will want to take with you at all times along with "Web Project Management: Delivering Successful Commercial Web Sites" by Ashley Friedlein.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nancy L. Willoughby on May 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
As soon as I picked up this book, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I've been working with wireframes for many years, and creating them for a couple of years, but it's my experience that everyone does them differently, and so I gratefully welcome an overview of the basics.

I almost don't dare to write this next thing, so unbelieving am I at my good luck, but here are all the documents he covers, filling in holes in my knowledge base:

1. Personas

2. Usability test plans

3. Usability reports

4. Competitive analysis

5. Concept models

6. Content inventories

7. Site maps

8. Flow charts

9. Wireframes

10. Screen designs

As he says in his preface, it's a how-to book. It's a cookbook. It's for people who make the docs, people who use the docs, and people who review the docs.

I'm really excited. Methodology is great, but what a joy it is to just get some basic templates!
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