51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Nearly every book on user interface and site design I've read is aimed at the professional designer who understands the nuances of color, fonts and graphics elements, as well as aesthetics in general. Many of the subtle points are lost on the non professional.
The book begins with a short chapter on the foundations of good design, which provides principles, dispels myths, and stays focused on customer-centric goals. The heart of the book is Part II, which consists of 12 different design patterns based on real life examples. It leads you through each example, showing you how a particular design or design concept works and why. This is akin to the Rosetta Stone for the non-professional designer because the authors do not assume any talent of skills in design, and subtle points are highlighted and clearly explained. Because of this approach I finally understood concepts that had eluded me in the past. In addition to the clear explanations that distill design into patterns, the book is lavishly illustrated, using copious full color examples and a structured format that gives the background, frames the problem and provides a solution to each of the 12 design goals.
Material in the appendices is also invaluable, including advice on running usability evaluation, and associated plan outlines and forms. For a development group this is an extra bonus that will make it easier to incorporate the principles in this book into a quality process that gives customer-focused usability the same weight as technical quality criteria.
I'm so enthusiastic about this book that I've recommended to the company for which I work that a copy of this book be provided to each of our developers who are programming wizards, but who stumble when it comes to the user interface.
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2003
This is the first computer related book that I have bought and thought - "Perfect, just what I needed." What I like most about this book is that it spends so little time explaining why building user centered web sites is a good idea, and tells you exactly what techniques are used to create them. You can open the book up to almost any page, read a paragraph and get something out of it. It is clear that the authors spend alot of time laying out the book to make information retrieval easy.
Dont let "look inside" pictures that amazon has posted fool you - they are probably the only boring sections of the book. In part 2 (about page 100), the book gets really really good. For the next 500 pages they cover almost every area of of web design imaginable and present the areas in a problem - solution format. Many books dont offer concrete techniques, just tell you - "design for the user", "users hate poorly designed pages" etc etc. Each problem/solution is about 2 pages long, and they are web techniques that can be applied to almost every web site. They literally say to solve X problem do Y solution. Very specific, very useful.
The book also is good from cover to cover. I have found that alot of books are good for the first chapter and then loose quality. They present each "nugget of information" with the perfect amount of description - enough to explain why its useful, but not too much to drag on.
They also use these hand drawn pictures that I liked to show how a generic web page would function, instead of only pictures of pre-existing web pages ( which they also have ample examples) So you can actually apply it to your project instead of saying, I understand why hotmail looks the way it does. I would recommend this book to anyone, hands down.
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2002
I admit it; I'm a sucker for web design books. Whenever a book comes out on the subject, I tend to rush to buy it, hoping it can show me how to improve my craft, and make the designs I create better and more effective. Most of the time I'm disappointed because the book is simply a paean to whatever the latest and 'greatest' is in the world of hip and hot design.
I don't want to know how to make what's hip and hot...I can figure that out for myself. What I want is to see how I can implement proven strategies that help users (my users) get things done as they use the product. And that's the true strength of this book; it's what it's all about. With almost 100 'patterns' of website design, this book breaks it down in simple, easy-to-get terms, that I, a technical usability specialist can understand and then turn around and reproduce. It's almost like a cookbook, in the sense that the book shows me:
1) What the patterns is, how it's used in the real world, and different flavors of it
2) Why the pattern is good, how it's been successful, and in some cases how it's been refined.
3) How the pattern works, what are it's components, and what does it need to be successful
4) And finally, what other patterns it's like, and how by incorporating parts of other patterns, I can strengthen my users' experience.
I want this...I don't have time to be reinventing the wheel every time my employer or a client wants a site. I need to be able to pick up a reference book and see exactly what a `community' site (or one of a hundred other types of sites) is like, so I have a good starting place to work from as I delve into what the project sponsor wants. This book helps me by already doing the leg-work of research into best practices, common features, and pitfalls. By giving me that already, I don't have to spend time doing figuring that stuff already out, and rather can spend time doing what's important...listening to my client, employer, and user base to figure out how to meet their specific needs, and make them all happy.
That's easily worth the price of admission.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2003
Have you ever wondered why you return time and time again to certain web sites yet there are others you wish not to return again?
One of the measurements of site success is customer retention. In order to retain your customers, you must know and understand them. Not all web sites have the same customer requirements but they do share some of the same principles. Van Duyne, Landay, and Hong provide the guidance to explain the differentiation of site categories, what they have in common and what customers expect out of them. They reveal how the top benchmark sites are developed from the customer viewpoint. They explain how a customer should know where they are on a site and to navigate, even if they enter the site 5 layers down.
The authors define eleven site genres and then discuss the various patterns that best fit specific type of site or general to multiple types of sites. There have been many books written on web usability and design ... but this book provides the reading experience that can be applied to any site.
Have you ever wondered why you return time and time again to certain books yet there are others you wish not to return again? This book is a "Page Returner."
This book is highly recommended.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
It is a rare privilege to spend time with masters of their profession. It is rarer still to read a book written by them.
The Design of Sites: Patterns, Principles and Processes for Crafting a Customer-Centered Web Experience. Creating a website is easy. Creating a website that connects with your audience is not so easy. It takes planning, experience, an intuitive understanding of your audience and skill.
The authors have done much of the work. They have taken the time to reduce their knowledge to writing. Their book distills the practices that result in sites that draw repeat visitors to simple patterns, principles and processes. The book is comprehensive and easy to use. It can be read front-to-back. It can be read in snippets. It provides design solutions to common web design problems. Follow the patterns and you will shorten your development cycles and reduce your maintenance costs.
If you are in the Web Development or Design business, buy the book. I promise it will be dog-eared from use in a short period of time.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
In computing, a wrong repeated often enough can become a right, or to use the proper term, a convention. Everyone is now so familiar with the standard layout of a main menu with the File entry on the left and the Help entry on the right that no one even thinks about constructing a user interface any other way. Such expectations lead to the structure of patterns, which in this context are just fundamental ways of doing things. Whether they are right or wrong, once a pattern becomes ingrained in the expectations of a large segment of the user community, you either do it that way or lose out to those who do.
This book is a collection of the patterns that users expect to find when they encounter a web site. Presented almost exclusively via screen shots of sites with the proper layout, the demonstrations of the patterns are clear and unambiguous. The patterns are also numbered for categorization, so that they can be easily referenced from other patterns. They are refined into enough categories so that few patterns stand alone, most are used in combination with one or more other patterns. I have read some of the books by Jakob Nielson and other web usability gurus, and consider this one to be as good as any of the others.
If you design web sites, teach the design of web sites or teach those who teach those who design web sites, then you cannot afford to ignore the lessons in this book. After reading it, my whole thought process was different when I was working on the web. I kept thinking back to the patterns in the book and contrasting them to the sites I was visiting. Granted it was an interesting intellectual exercise and a tribute to the book that it got me thinking, but it also slowed me down in the completion of the work.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2003
Unlike many books on usability or on web or interactive design, "The Design of Sites" covers both aspects in equal depth. It is well research, with hundreds of examples, and it is written in concise language with oodles of cross-references to other sections. The book is very attractively designed, and works well from start to finish or with random soundings. Above all, it is comprehensive in addressing all design problems, yet brief and to the point on the many "patterns" (which could just as well be called "topics") it covers.
Perhaps not the first book a new web designer should read, but a good candidate for the second one -- it is certainly of great interest to anyone who has begun to grapple with the many design challenges of web development.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2005
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
While there are many books on the market that discuss patterns related to programming, architectural elements, etc., this is the first book I've seen that focuses on web patterns at the user interface level. The book is essentially an indexed, cross-referenced, best practices guide to building web pages that attract and keep customers. Or at least keep you from pissing them off. The authors have collected and summarized a great deal of HCI research (all listed in the resources section of the appendix) on web usability, so none of this stuff is made up--it's all based on time-proven, tested, and verified data about how people actually use the Internet (e.g., see Amazon, Yahoo!, Google, et. al.). A few of the patterns are no longer considered best practices, due to evolving standards (e.g., CSS) and increasing browser standards support. This is a very handy reference book, especially for an in-depth UI checklist.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2002
If everyone designing a site read and implemented the advice in this book using the web would be an utterly different experience.
Beautifully organised and cross referenced, clearly written without in any way being patronising, this is a useful book for anyone designing an interfaced. People already working in interface design can learn a thing or two as well.
A must read.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Design of Sites is an outstanding reference on a number of levels. The individual patterns each offer great practical advice, although the most powerful aspect of this work is the development of inter-connected web design patterns.
The development of pattens, based upom the seminal work of architect Christopher Alexander, are a series of "best practice" web design patterns that are cross referenced to create a very powerful and usable book. As a particular pattern, or problem, is defined and resolved the useful relationships to other patterns are noted. For example, as the reader works through "Sign-in/New Account" related patterns including "Process Funnel", "Personalized Content", "Meaningful Error Messages" are noted, each of which have their own descriptions and resolutions. The excellent examples and consistent formatting of individual patterns strengthen the connection between the patterns and result in a highly usable book.
This important work is highly recommended!