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Designing Web Usability Paperback – December 30, 1999
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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Creating Web sites is easy. Creating sites that truly meet the needs and expectations of the wide range of online users is quite another story. In Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity, renowned Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen shares his insightful thoughts on the subject. Packed with annotated examples of actual Web sites, this book sets out many of the design precepts all Web developers should follow.
This guide segments discussions of Web usability into page, content, site, and intranet design. This breakdown skillfully isolates for the reader many subtly different challenges that are often mixed together in other discussions. For example, Nielsen addresses the requirements of viewing pages on varying monitor sizes separately from writing concise text for "scanability." Along the way, the author pulls no punches with his opinions, using phrases like "frames: just say no" to immediately make his feelings known. Fortunately, his advise is some of the best you'll find.
One of the unique aspects of this title is the use of actual statistics to buttress the author's opinions on various techniques and technologies. He includes survey results on sizes of screens, types of queries submitted to search portals, response times by connection type and more. This book is intended as the first of two volumes--focusing on the "what." The author promises a follow-up title that will show the "hows" and, based on this installation, we can't wait. --Stephen W. Plain
Topics covered: Cross-platform design, response time considerations, writing for the Web, multimedia implementation, navigation strategies, search boxes, corporate intranet design, accessibility for disabled users, international considerations, and future predictions.
From Library Journal
While everyone wants to design cool web sites, no one wants to think simple and consider whether the design actually accomplishes its goal, which is usually to sell, teach, or entertain. The sole exception is Nielsen, who has made a living speaking and writing about what works and what doesn't work in interactive media. His simple, well-written, and well-illustrated book discusses web usability, page design, content design, site design, intranet design, accessibility for users with disabilities, international use, future directions, and simplicity. Buy more than one copy.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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If one cares about usability, this is a page turner. I could hardly put it down. And I'm sure this is one of the few books I own that I will use daily and keep handy and probably well marked. To me, that's the sign of a very good, very important book. One you live with.
When you've read this book, you'll know more about usability than probably 90 percent or more of the people on the web. And you'll be able to create a site that will be useful to people, which translates into more business.
Most of the sites on the web today are really pretty bad. Both the design and the copy are bad. When you understand usability you can make a site that works for everyone concerned.
This book is fascinating. It's easy to read and understand. It covers all the topics that are usability concerns. This is NOT a book about web design. It's about usability and incorporating it into your design and into your writing. So writers as well as designers should read it.
I read "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug and I found it a very good book. I learned a lot from it. But after reading this book by Jakob Nielsen I really "got it". And you will too.
I highly recommend this very valuable book. It's an investment that will pay big dividends.
Susanna K. Hutcheson
Owner and Executive Copy Director
Some people may complain about this book, or say that it's not very useful, but like *anything* on usability, it's about lessons. Jakob Nielsen is quite the usability Yoda, and he very much shows what he considers to be elements of high (or in many cases) low usability.
His approach is nice for a couple of reasons. Often, when designing an element, you may ask yourself "Is this usable?" Most developers are blind to usability, as they can use their own code, and fail to take into consideration someone unfamiliar with thier process. Nielsen, through his copious examples, shows what's common on the internet, and describes usability elements based on that. The fact is, most of what we see and use on the internet could be vastly improved. He simply points it out.
Just like anything, this book should be read and taken with a grain of salt. Absorb what he has to say, and see how it applies to your development. While he is considered very yoda-like, he isn't the be-all, end-all authority (I can hear some people's teeth grinding at that comment... heh). Use what makes sense, and eschew what doesn't.
Overall, however, I *highly* recommend reading this book, if just for the usability perspective. You'll learn a lot, even if you don't try. An excellent book.
The book covers issues about how to design an individual page. The importance of color choices for anchors, screen real estate, older browsers, and slow connections. To backup his positions, the author constantly cites studies and includes statistical information.
The author then steps back from the individual page and looks at an entire site. He touches on consistency, metaphors, and navigation. Oh.. and *content* There is no substitute.
The author also has chapters on a wide range of other issues such as designing specifically for internal Intranet use, international considerations, and the future of the web (i.e., the computer with its crisp 17" monitor may not be the primary device for accessing the web).
I only had two problems with this book. First, I came away with a wealth of ideas, but I did not of the knowledge to implement them. This book needs a companion book describing the "how to".
Second, I hated the binding and to a lesser extent the basic layout. I found this moderately amusing for a book about "usability".
If you are involved at any level with web development, this book should be on your shelf... *after* you have read it.
It is not that the book is without merit. There are nuggets of wisdom buried in every chapter. Jakob Nielsen is an acknowledged web design expert. This book summarizes much of his thinking. Simplicity and usability should rule the web, according to the author. He is right. Users, or perhaps the term, surfers is more appropriate, are never more than one click from moving on to the next site.
There are some great chapters - the one on content design springs to mind. However, the book is like reading a W. E. B. Griffin novel. By the time you finish it, you realize it does not contain much new material. Topics and introductions are continually re-served and rehashed. At these prices, the author ought to credit his readers with enough intelligence to remember lessons taught in previous chapters.
The author's mantra is to know your user. This book would have been better if he accepted his own advice.
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