From 9 to 5 (well, a "little" after 5 most days), I am an Application Development Manager in my company. In my years doing this, I have read a lot of books on the topic of Web and User Experience Design. So far, only a handful stand out above "Designing the Obvious" by Robert Hoekman Jr. and even some of those, he takes his hat off to (such as the case of "Don't Make Me Think", for instance).
Hoekman proposes the "unthinkable" for those entrenched into rusty web design practices, but when you step back and reconsider the experiences you've had, his framework makes perfect sense. Here are a couple of thoughts he brings to the table, to give you an idea:
-Design an application that does one thing, and does it very well. For every additional feature, there is more to learn, more to tweak and configure, more to customize, more to read about in the help document, and more that can go wrong.
-People (users) don't always make the right choices. They make comfortable choices... they make choices they know how to make. To deal with this, he supports Goal-Directed (also called Activity-Centered) Design, as opposed to Human-Centered Design.
Web Design anathema? Violation of User Interface "basics"? Maybe it sounds so at first, but if you read through his arguments, you will find them very compelling and may end up (like myself) reconsidering some of your initial assumptions.
One of the reasons why his proposal resonated so much with me is because throughout the book, Hoekman introduces concepts that are not familiar in the Web space, borrowing them from long-established best practices in manufacturing (where I worked the first four years of my professional life), such as:
-Kaizen: improving things constantly, in little tiny ways that add up to gigantic results.
-Poka-Yoke: software "devices" meant to prevent user errors from occurring.
-Pareto (80/20 rule): Good, clean Web application design means that 80 percent of an application's usefulness comes from 20 percent of its features.
For longtime professionals and newcomers into the field of User Experience Design, Hoekman's book has turned into an absolute must read.