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The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web

3.9 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 075-2064712022
ISBN-10: 0735712026
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Editorial Reviews


"Finally, a concise explanation of User Experience that synthesizes its many disparate parts. Clear-headed, readable, and necessary." -- Louis Rosenfeld, Co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

"Finally, a concise explanation of User Experience that synthesizes its many disparate parts." -- Louis Rosenfeld, co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

"Garrett brings incisive clarity to the complex process of providing a high-quality experience to people who use your web site." -- Alan Cooper, Author of About Face and The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

"Garrett brings incisive clarity to the process of providing a high-quality experience to the people who use your web site." -- Alan Cooper, author of About Face and The Inmates are Running the Asylum

"Garrett has finally expanded his famous diagram into a book that clarifies the entire jumbled field of user experience design." -- Steve Krug, Author of Don't Make Me Think!

From the Author

I really love the web. I really hate bad web sites. One day I was sitting on the back patio of Carbon IQ with Jeff Veen, and mentioned both of these sentiments. I said, "Dang it, if people would just slow down and do a few blueprints before they made web sites, they'd all improve 200%. I mean, it doesn't take that much -- you just talk to some users, do a couple card sorts, and blooie! a better web site." And he said, "You should write a book." Well, it's a year later, and I have written a book. My brain is now sitting in your hands, between these covers. I still spend a lot of time online -- so far I found a career, a husband, a car, a publisher, and many tickets to exotic locales all online. I love the web -- it has the power to change people's lives. I still hate bad web sites though, and now I'd like to encourage you to read this book and go make some good ones. Please. I'll swing by when you're done.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders (October 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735712026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735712027
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #538,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Like many negative Amazon reviews, some detractors of this book seem to object to the fact that it is this book and not something else. In this case they may not be entirely unfair. If you are looking for advanced techniques in web design you won't find them in Garrett's book. If, however, you are looking for a good framework for thinking about design strategy--for your own thinking, for explaining things to clients, or for students--you will find this book indispensable. It is short, sweet, and straightforward. Whether that's good news of bad is something each reader will need to decide.
Some complain that The Elements of User Experience does not go deeply enough into a range of user experience issues. This may partially be the fault of the author and the publisher. The value of this book goes well beyond web projects and the "user experience" world. Much of it applies to a variety of design projects. If I were to make a major objection to the book it is not that it is too shallow but that it is conceived of as too narrow.
Much of the audience that would find this book to be an important breakthrough would never pick up a book that crams the word "User" into the title twice then gets in two buzz words and says "Web." I don't think this is one of the most important books about user experience or user-centered design. It is, however, a great basic book on design strategy. I hope disappointed people rating it poorly for not being the book they hoped for will not detract from this book finding the wider audience it richly deserves.
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Format: Paperback
How many times have you been involved in a Web site design effort that seems to fit this approach? Sadly, we all have such experiences in our lives. This delightful little book provides user experience designers a conceptual model for producing Web sites. This allows for a process that is rigorous, logical, and easily communicated.
Jesse James Garrett defines the term "user experience" as "...how (a) product behaves and is used in the real world." He focuses this book on consideration of one particular kind of product: Web sites.
In the Introduction, the author describes this book as
"...not a how-to book, ...not a book about technology, ...(and) not a book of answers. Instead, this book is about asking the right questions.
"This book will tell you what you need to know before you go read those other books. If you need the big picture, if you need to understand the context for the decisions that user experience practitioners make, this book is for you."
I agree wholeheartedly. The role that this book can play in developing your skill as a user experience practitioner is analogous to the role of ground school for a fledgling airplane pilot. Before a prospective pilot gets behind the controls, ground school teaches the principles of flight, aircraft systems, and other basics that need to be understood before actually taking off. Similarly, this book provides a way of understanding user experience that helps you make informed decisions as you begin and continue the design of a user experience.
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By A Customer on October 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Information architecture is a phrase beginning to be bandied about in web design and development circles, but its speakers are often unfamiliar with the meaning of the term. In one case I witnessed it was greeted with giggles and guffaws of incomprehension.
Yet an industry-wide understanding of information architecture is crucial, especially now that the days of corporate web sites as little more than online brochures, or marketing eye candy, are well and truly over. Web sites, if they are to provide real value to their readers and publishers, must fulfil real business functionality. Above all their functions, look and feel must be aimed squarely at satisfying the reader and her needs, at providing the optimum user experience. According to Garrett, planning is the key.
Five Part Plan.
Garrett divides a web site's planning into five parts, from top to bottom - Surface, Skeleton, Structure, Scope and Strategy. Bottom comes first, then you work your way to the top, the design and programming of the site itself. Garrett recommends that all sites are planned using this conceptual framework.
But, how many times have you seen a web site built in reverse - look and feel coming first, perhaps with some concession made to planning the structure and the content to go into it? Practices still vary widely across the industry - Garrett makes an excellent case for adopting a more structured method, supporting it with sound arguments and good examples throughout the book.
An Odd Omission.
I have rated The Elements of User Experience at four stars, not five, due to a surprising omission. It would have made so much sense to have published the diagrams and notes about information architecture located on Jesse James Garrett's [website] as appendices.
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