Does your company Web site convey your message effectively? Are your customers finding what they need easily? Determining these factors is a difficult task that has challenged Usability professionals since the first Web page was posted.
Review By: Greg Turner 12/30/2002This book addresses a wide range of topics that seem to cover the full range of considerations that are all pieces of the Web usability puzzle. Although designed primarily for a testing/QA-type audience, this book provides insights that could benefit a Web team from management to requirements to development to testing.
Anticipating that most, if not all, of us haven’t spent our entire life studying usability, Mr. Pearrow goes to great pains to provide readers with background information on the science of covering definitions, jargon, user-centered design, and the human factors that play into the way sites are used--yet he successfully makes all the background interesting. With a foundation in hand, readers move into issues focused primarily on testing, but there are complete chapters on design guidelines, Web accessibility, planning, and the use of research to improve all of the above.
There is a chapter on the “usability toolbox” which covers methodologies and references to help get usability design or testing off the ground quickly. Additionally, the book provides hands-on exercises and discussion topics at the end of each chapter.
I found this book hard to put down, and began implementing ideas from the book even before I finished reading it. To date, I don’t know of any more comprehensive or well-planned book on Web site usability. Having worked in the project management, test management and development roles, I was pleased to see the book address components of all of these topics that I had struggled to cope with at one time or another, and found the solutions/ideas/suggestions very valid.
This is a book that could benefit members of management, requirements analysts, developers, testers--and the users of the sites they build. Typically when I read such a book, one section stands out as the clear-cut piece that I will take away, but I find it very difficult to pick one piece from this one. The “usability toolbox” will prove very valuable as I continue to work for improved Web usability in our designs. The discussions on Web accessibility will help us ensure that we make sites that are more usable by all members of our audiences. Finally, the way the author approaches requirements modeling as a function of usability will help us be even more efficient in our designs.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone working with building, maintaining, planning, or testing Web sites.