Users can experience the usability of a site before they have committed to using it and before they have spent any money on potential purchases. The web is the ultimate environment for empowerment, and he or she who clicks the mouse decides everything. In this landmark design reference, the world's acknowledged authority on web usability. Jakob Nielson, shares with you the full weight of his wisdom and experience. From content and page design to designing for ease of navigation and for users with disabilities, Jakob Nielsen delivers complete direction on how to connect with any web user, in any situation.
Through years of research and interaction with users. Jakob Nielsen has arrived at a series of principles that work in support of his findings: 1. That web users want to find what they're after quickly, and 2. If they don't know what they're after, they nevertheless want to browse quickly and access information they come across in a logical manner.
Review By: Greg Turner 02/27/2005Widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on Web usability, Jakob Nielsen has been providing usability advice through his Web site (www.useit.com) for years. As a student of this site since 1998, I have learned a great deal, and looked forward to having a chance to see expanded information in this book. I was not disappointed.
As a former marketer turned IT guy (development/testing), I have a soft spot for Web usability books, and have read all those that I am aware of. Although I have found value in each of these books, this one is definitely the best I have seen. Given this, I will discuss in detail the three portions of the book that I found most beneficial, and will just touch on the others.
Like most usability books, this one starts with an explanation of what usability is and why it is necessary, thereby laying the groundwork for the detailed explanations to follow. But unlike most other usability books, this one covers a few things that aren’t commonly covered. I think the best example of this is how the author handles the discussion of page design (rather than site design), logically covering uncommon topics such as the use of screen real estate, separating meaning and presentation, and the role of credibility in a site. Some of this is so well covered that at times I found myself wondering if he had maybe been a marketing guy (too) in a past life. In addition to these topics, the section on page design also covers more standard items like the construction of usable links, the application of style sheets, and response times.
After covering the core of the Web (people see pages—not sites), the author moves into a well thought out discussion of Web content. As a former writer and student of writing for the Web, I couldn’t have covered it better myself. Even better was his attention to presentation and other forms of media as components of the content.
Now, even though people look at a single page at a time, the design of sites is not something to be overlooked. Having studied usability for many years, I can’t honestly say that I learned the most in this area, but rather, this area served to best confirm some of the principles that I have tried to apply to my own work. Although the section on site design covered a number of ideas, the ones that stand out to me as most important are page width, the use of metaphors, navigation/searching, and URL design.
After covering site design, the author moves into excellent discussions on Intranet Design, Accessibility for Users with Disabilities, and Internationalization. He also looks at some future predictions (serious/humorous) for the Web. I found each of these components interesting, but not something that I could apply in my daily work.
If you can only afford one Web usability book, this is the one to have. With the exception of how to conduct usability testing, the width and depth of the topics covered exceeds almost every other book out there. I found the ideas it presents both timely and logical, and implemented many of them long before I finished the book.
Almost any book on usability is relevant to business analysts, developers, testers/QA types, project managers…but this is the most complete. Building for the Web, with its lack of standardization among users, is incredibly challenging. But to build something that isn’t usable isn’t only challenging, it’s disheartening when the desired results aren’t achieved. I think it’s very important for many members of a development team to have an understanding of basic usability principles, but like the QA for any other software project, it often falls to the testers to make sure that known principles are applied. Usability seems to follow this model.