- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: New Riders Publishing (October 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 073571102X
- ISBN-13: 978-0735711020
- Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 0.7 x 9.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed
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While there is a plethora of books available that provide tips on Web design, most authors leave a significant gap between the theory and practice--a gap that is left up to the reader to fill. Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed boldly steps into that gap with specific observations and suggestions backed with solid quantitative analysis. This book focuses only on home page design as the most important point of presence for any Web site.
This definitive work is coauthored by Jakob Nielsen--the accepted industry expert in Web usability--and Marie Tahir, an expert in user profiling. Their collaboration has produced a guide of such rare practical benefit that Web designers will likely wear out their first copy scouring the pages to savor every last morsel of wisdom.
The book begins with a chapter of precise guidelines that serve as a checklist of the features and functionality to include on your home page. The specifics found in categories such as "revealing content through examples" and "graphic design" will quickly hook you and whet your appetite for more. These guidelines are followed up with hard statistics and an examination of the ominous Jakob's Law: "Users spend most of their time on other sites than your site." Here you'll find some interesting statistics about how various conventions like search, privacy policies, and logos are used.
All this leads up to the showcase element of the book--a systematic deconstruction of 50 of the most popular home pages on the Web. The authors painstakingly pick apart each in an uncompromising autopsy of usability. Each site is graphically analyzed for its use of real estate and summarized with the frankness only found from true experts. Then each section of the home page is bulleted and analyzed for potential improvements.
It's a bold move to offer a critique of industry-standard Web sites such as Yahoo, CNET, and eBay, but the authors have done such a fine job that the designers of those sites will surely make reading this book a high priority. For the rest of us, this work will serve as an invaluable gospel. --Stephen W. Plain
Topics covered: Design guidelines, convention usage, screen real estate, navigation, content presentation, search facilities, links, graphics and animation, advertising, news, customization, and customer feedback.
From Library Journal
Nielsen, dogmatic don of web usability, and his strategy director Tahir believe that a company needs a well-designed homepage to succeed online. They provide 113 brief usability guidelines that lead into a chapter on homepage statistics, giving readers an idea of conventions to follow or break. The homepages of 50 major web sites, from About.com to Yahoo.com, are then pictured and critiqued in terms of those recommendations and statistics. A useful resource for both novice and professional web designers; recommended for all libraries.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
But the point about exclamation marks on the homepage is a good one. They are overused. I've overused them myself. And they do make a page look like so much hype in many cases. Copywriters get carried away with hype and the web is no place for that.
I don't think we can take anyone's advice in total all the time. But I can tell you this. After I read only a few pages in this book I saw changes that I needed to make.
After looking at the critiques in the book, I can easily see the small very fine details that can make all the difference in the world in usability and, moreover, in marketing.
Jakob does extensive testing with real people and I have a lot of faith in his findings. His word is not the last word. But I trust him and I think people who are involved with designing or writing Web sites should read what he writes.
They don't have to agree with everything. But not to read him would be a mistake.
The changes I've made due to his advice have paid big dividends. I don't hold 100 percent to everything he says. But I believe I have a site that is very user-friendly in part because I apply his principals and I pass them on to my clients.
If people would just read the intricate detail in each critique, they would see what one small change could make and why it should be done the way the authors suggest.
I would have given the book five stars but the book itself had some misspelled words and it used the word "website" instead of "Web site" which is the accepted way to write it. I don't necessarily blame the authors for that. It was probably a low level editor who let those errors happen. But they shouldn't be there. Especially in a slick, well designed book and a book about usability and perfection.
But to anyone involved in making decisions about a Web site --- especially designers and copywriters --- I highly recommend this book.
Susanna K. Hutcheson
Owner and Executive Copy Director
I like how each site deconstructed has a pie chart that tells you can quickly and easily look at and see what the homepage allocates space for.
Much thought put into critiquing the sites. I found the homepage design statistics in the beginning to be quite useful and accurate.
Overall, the book is a masterpiece. There is a chock full of thought into each homepage.
A few downsides:
- The home page reviews are comprehensive, but the "problems" the authors find get somewhat repetitive after a while. In fact, after reading through about 20 reviews I was able to find more than half of the "problems" before reading the review (simply by looking at the screnshots).
- Another thing the authors could have done to make the reviews more useful: separate serious problems from trivial ones instead of listing them all in a single list.
While the book does have its quirks, it is a solid reference overall and will make a great addition to any web designer's library.
Even though a lot of this is on what not to do, getting those basic errors fixed may make this the best book I've ever seen on how to make a GOOD website, or at least improve any web site.