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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, The Textbook on Usability
I've read some of the criticisms of this book - its wordy, hard to read, etc. I have to say I don't agree. Whenever people ask me to recommend books on software usability, this is always one of the top 5 that I suggest.
Its a textbook, not a novel, and it has all the advantages (precise, scientific language) and all the drawbacks of a textbook (dry, dense)...
Published on April 28, 2000 by Matthew G. Belge

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113 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 20/20 vision on only 60 percent of the problem
As a Web site designer, I've long been an advocate of JakobNielsen's ideas -- to an extent. Usability is arguably the mostimportant aspect of any design project, and an aspect too often ignored by many software and Web site designers.
Mr. Nielsen, in his book, very aptly points out typical errors and common stumbling blocks of interface design, and presents very...
Published on May 1, 1999


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113 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 20/20 vision on only 60 percent of the problem, May 1, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
As a Web site designer, I've long been an advocate of JakobNielsen's ideas -- to an extent. Usability is arguably the mostimportant aspect of any design project, and an aspect too often ignored by many software and Web site designers.
Mr. Nielsen, in his book, very aptly points out typical errors and common stumbling blocks of interface design, and presents very convincing arguments and methods for solving these problems. However, strict adherence to Mr. Nielsen's interface design techniques, at the expense of less easily measured human factors, will often result in a sterile and boring product. Both are eminently efficient and usable, but are also wonderful examples of visual blandness -- nearly devoid of the human and aesthetic factors that contributes to a depth of personality and a richness of sensory stimulation.
Although Mr. Nielsen never specifically advocates this, the logical conclusion of his approach is an interface design whose personality and soul have been stripped away in a slavish preference for pure, unencumbered efficiency and usability. Contrary to Mr. Nielsen's examples, the quest for usability should not abrogate the need to avoid ugliness.
For the sake of efficient usability, I wonder if Mr. Nielsen has replaced his impractical, hard-to-maintain backyard lawn with efficient asphalt paving. Or maybe pulled out his expensive, hard-to-clean, dirt collecting, living room carpet and replaced it with an efficient concrete floor. I'm joking of course, but even if Mr. Nielson thinks this way, most do not. Yet, this is the result achieved by many of his user interface examples.
Perhaps on the planet Vulcan where everyone thinks like Mr. Spock, Mr. Nielsen's conclusions and methods might be the eminently rational final word on good interface design. But on Earth the value of his conclusions and usability tests must be weighed against the somewhat hard-to-measure and difficult-to-quantify factors of illogical human personality and perception.
Although Mr. Nielsen's observations, conclusions and suggestions continue to be very valuable in helping to pull interface design towards much needed greater usability and functionality, his mistake seems to be that this is all he sees as being important.
Cory Maylett
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97 of 116 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Save your money, read this review:, February 3, 2001
By 
Harry Tuttle (Melbourne, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
If his own principles had been applied to the book it could be reduced to a a few bullet points.
*the web is slow, less is more.
*tell people what a link leads too before they press it, and make sure it does.
*use standard fonts in easy to read colours.
*use standard web conventions where ever possible as they are familiar.
*check for spelling mistakes and grammar errors.
*write concisely and arrange depth of detail in hierarchies, like they do in errr reference books.
*tell the user where they are, and how they got their, um like a path prehaps.
*some people have small screens, some don't even use microsoft browsers, not everyone has the latest plug ins, allow for it.
*don't employ frustrated artists to design your site, use an engineer.
Jakob proudly states he has multiple patents in the field of usability, maybe following this book will infringe them, or maybe he just kept the good stuff for himself.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for user interface pros, too much for developers, October 8, 2001
By 
Eric D. Napier (Brandon, MS United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
If your specialty is the user interface, you need to read this book. If you are interested in developing a user interface design process, you should read this. If you are a software developer who wants to know how to build good interfaces, skip it. It is too much about perfecting the design process.
I was looking for 'use this button for x and this widget for y'. In other words, here are the rules for a good user interface. What I got was 'here is the process for studying users and their interfaces, and here is a mountain of statistics to back it up'. No fault of the author, I just mis-understood what I was getting.
Having said that, if you want to make your living studying and perfecting interface design, read this book.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, The Textbook on Usability, April 28, 2000
By 
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
I've read some of the criticisms of this book - its wordy, hard to read, etc. I have to say I don't agree. Whenever people ask me to recommend books on software usability, this is always one of the top 5 that I suggest.
Its a textbook, not a novel, and it has all the advantages (precise, scientific language) and all the drawbacks of a textbook (dry, dense).
However, there isn't any better source on things like how to put together a usability test, how to cost justify usability in the overall design process, or even simply, what the usability process is all about. You can't be serious about software usability if you haven't read this book!
And while Jakob's book "Designing Web Usability" is more popular, to me, this one is the better book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent primer, December 4, 2000
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
This book is not perfect, but some of the critique is a bit too harsh. The book is not verbose, it is just user friendly =). I mean, really, the book is a breeze to read, it is clear and not once was I unsure about anything it said. There is only a little more than 250 pages of actual text to read. Then there are excercises which I found helpful. Then there's a long list of references, which some people may find helpful when trying to find more information.
The most incredible part of the book, in my opinion, is the chapter on inexpensive usability engineering methods, that can easily be adapted by small companies without large budgets. They are really worth reading the book!
I believe everyone who wants a career in UI design should read this book first, before proceeding further. Those who are not usability engineers per se, will get all they need from this book (about interface-design), the UI pros will probably want to read other material too, but this is the place to start.
I would give 4.5 stars if possible. The book is not perfect. But I gave 5 stars to help the average rise a bit... ...hopefully.
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37 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overly wordy., November 15, 1999
By 
Rebecca Rachmany (Hod Hasharon Israel) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
Although Neilsen has a lot of good information in here, the information is hidden beneath layers of writing. Every point is repeated several times, and the author is incredibly wordy. As a professional writer, it astounds me that someone could go on about usability without having the faintest idea of how to make his own writing usable. If edited properly, this volume could be reduced to half the size and give exactly the same information. The passive voice just about slaughters this book. One gets the impression that the author thinks he must write in this boring, textbook style in order to be considered "The Book" in the industry. This is unfortunate, because many readers simply won't make it through this book, despite the important information it has to impart.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read if you want people to use your software, August 8, 2001
By 
RA Botha (Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth South Africa) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
If you are an experienced user interface designer who thoroughly understands what usability is about you probably don't need to read the book (although I would find it strange that you are experienced and did not read this book which is attributed to have coined the term "Usability Engineering").
So who should read the book. Everybody that is going to develop any form of software. No, it won't make you an expert, but it will get you thinking.
On the negative side, some of the examples may some be slightly old (but its a 1993 book!). Sometimes you're also going to feel that you could stress this concept in half the space. However, the information and the thought process behind the information is extremely relevant and is well-worth the effort of reading the book.
If you are new in software development this book is an absolute must. In a sense it helps you develop "a way of thinking" rather than giving any specifics.
However, if you are looking for specifics, Chapter 5 deals with usability heuristics, presenting 10 of them. When looking at the list of 10 heuristics, they may seem obvious, trivial almost. It is quite amazing, however, how often those seemingly trivial things are overlooked or ignored. Just use some programs on your PC...
I think it would be worthwhile any software developers time to read Chapter 5 and think long and hard about what is said - then go back to your software and be honest with yourself. It might be some of the best lessons you'll ever learn.
In lots of ways this book has everything that classics are made of - except occasionally the ease of reading.
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31 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good background book for Human Factors Engineers, August 1, 2000
By 
atmj (Rochester, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
One of the best ways I judge whether a book is useful for me or not, is to look through the Table of Contents. So here it is:
I apologize for the format. The space allowed for comments makes it impossible to put this in true outline format.
The Table of Contents
PREFACE
Audience,Teaching Usability Engineering, Acknowledgements
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Cost savings, Usability Now!, Usability Slogans, Discount Usability Engineering, Recipe for Action
2. WHAT IS USABILITY
Usability and other considerations, Definition of Usability, Example: Measuring the Usability of Icons, Usability Trade-Offs, Categories of Users and Individual User Differences, 3. Generations of User Interfaces, Batch Systems, Line-Oriented Interfaces, Full-Screen Interfaces, Graphical User Interfaces, Next-Generation Interfaces Long term trends in Usability
4. THE USABILITY ENGINEERING LIFECYCLE
Know the User,Competitive analysis, Goal setting, Parallel Design, Participatory Design, Coordinating the total Inteface, Guidelines and Heuristic evaluation, Prototyping, Interface Evaluation, Iterative design, Follow up studies of Installed systems, Meta-Methods, Prioritizing Usability Activities, Be Prepared
5. USABILITY HEURISTICS
Simple and Natural Dialogue, Speak the Users Language, Minimize User Memory Load, Consistency, Feedback, Clearly Marked exits, Shortcuts, Good Error Messages, Prevent Errors, Help and Documentation, Heuristic Evaluation
6. USABILITY TESTING
Test Goals and Test plans, Getting Test users, Choosing Experimenters, Ethical Aspects of Tests with Human Subjects, Test Tasks, Stages of a test, Performance Measurement, Thinking Aloud, Usability Laboratories
7. USABILITY ASSESSMENT METHODS BEYOND TESTING
Observation, Questionnaires and Interviews, Focus Groups, Logging Actual use, User Feedback, Choosing Usability methods
8. INTERFACE STANDARDS
National, International and Vendor Standards,
Producing Usable In-House Standards, International User Interfaces
9. FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
Theoretical Solutions, Technological solutions, CAUSE tools: Computer aided usability engineering' Technology Transfer
This book was required reading for a Human Factors class I took. I found it to be a good quick coverage of some basic human factors principles. Additionally, it had good coverage of the practical aspects as well. Some of the information is now dated but the basics still hold.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Do what I say, not what I do!", January 31, 2001
By 
"rebelo" (Criciúma, Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
The title I use is an old portuguese proverb. It is a good description of this book. In page 115 it says: "User interfaces should be simplified as much as possible,...". And then it takes almost 8 pages to explain it. Read it. His advices are pure gold. But don't build your user interface like this book was built: overcrowded with unnecessary details. There's another funny thing about this book. It's about design, mostly graphical. But doesn't talk to much about "creativity".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will need this!, May 17, 2014
By 
G. Olin "Gailey-O" (San Antonio, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Usability Engineering (Paperback)
Dear Fellow Informatics students:

You will DEFINITELY need this one for class and beyond. Buy it and keep it handy.
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Usability Engineering
Usability Engineering by Jakob Nielsen (Paperback - September 23, 1993)
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