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Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself Paperback – May, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
The book consists of a pragmatic introduction "beyond the buzz: the true meaning of usability" by Molly Holzschlag followed by the six 'tales from the design face'. Each chapter starts with a slightly cheesy, yet endearing question and answer session where the author(s) are asked to comment on items ranging from their favourite pizza, to their rating on a 'geek index'. I found this one page intro helped me to view the authors as human beings, rather than as 'subjects'. At the end of each chapter the authors are given the opportunity to give photographic examples of items that they personally rate as being 'usable'..
The sites covered range from large companies like the BBC and Economist through to community sites like Metafilter and Evolt.org. Also included are chapters on 'e-bay' with tens of millions of users, and the one man SynFonts site.
Each of the tales are compelling and you want to keep reading to see what happens next. The authors concentrate on why they did things, rather than how they did them, so you won't be getting tips on implementing navigation schemes in PHP or ASP. But you will find out why eBay merged their design and usability groups into one, why Flash was the right solution for SynFonts and why both evolt and MetaFilter decided that un-threaded comments were the way to go.
The publishers have put a lot of effort into every detail of this book.Read more ›
stories rather than other people savaging sites for usability crimes.
One of best things about this book, though, is the design and the tone. Its an easy read, like Steve Krug's book, and has very different styles of writing depending on which designer is talking. There's a team of people from the BBC talking about their sites and you get a real sense of a design team at work; the Economist is a serious site and the tone of the designer/ author is formal and serious; SynFonts is a flash site and the designer is not afraid to criticise his own site in far more lacerating terms than outsiders would, but evangelises the use of Flash in his circumstances while giving some excellent generic tips on Flash Usability: Don't restrict the viewing sizes of your movie; avoid hidden/rollover navigation; don't use Flash for navigation; test! test! test!
From the specific experiences, generic hints are drawn out, but they are never rules or guidelines. The book's central premise is that the web designer should know the audience, get feedback from them, use the server logs and design according to the user's needs and expectations.
There's also a gallery of real-world objects that each designer has chosen as examples of great design and usability.Read more ›
Coming to the book itself. I have copies of Jakob Nielsen's books, "Home Page Usability" and "Designing Web Usability". I also have Steve Krug's "Don't make me think" among other books on usability in my personal collection. This Glasshaus title is as different as can be from all those books. For the first time, one gets to hear first person accounts of the how and why of usability decisions made on major, major web sites. I mean, when you are talking about Economist.com, BBC, eBay, evolt, MetaFilter etc, you are talking about some of the most powerful and influential web sites today. The personal narrative form of exposition is another refreshing change; you feel each author is talking directly to you and sharing his/her experiences in making the kind of usability decisions they did for their websites. Each account, when read carefully, can help a web professional connect the excellent groundwork of experts like Nielsen to the practical compulsions behind real-life usability decisions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Usability: The Site Speaks For Itself has been bedside reading for a couple months. This book has been a great downtime inspiration. Read morePublished on November 3, 2002 by vanderwal
I found this to be a waste of my time and money. I had to choose a book on usability in order to make a presentation on for a usability course I am taking at Ohio University. Read morePublished on October 22, 2002 by ALDSW
The book features case studies from the designers behind six different sites who demonstrate how they created their usable sites. Read morePublished on June 7, 2002 by Meryl K. Evans