on 7 June 2006
Ten years ago, the Web was exciting to people. Today it's routine. It's a tool. If it's convenient, they will use it; if not, they won't. Users are getting less tolerant of difficult sites, so every design flaw means lost business. Thus, usability has more more important than ever.
This is the introduction of the reviewed book and I fully agree that it is time we prioritize Web usability. Of course, we all know about the fact that usability is important, but are we only paying lip service to the issue. When we decide between great design and great us-ability issues there's is often a trade-off. How often do we accept a lower level of usability in order to show off cool design? By the way, it is not that difficult to measure: Can people use the site at all? Test it!
Author Jakob Nielsen has a world-class reputation as Web usability expert since 1995 and this book co-authored by Hoa Loranger proves that he is still going strong.
A "practice of simplicity" has always been characterizing Jakob Nielsen's approach to us-ability. A picture is worth a 1000 words and thus the authors has filled this book with new screen shots that show what design mistakes we should avoid. The authors' visualizing and keeping it simple approach makes this book very easy to digest. If you have your own Web site you probably cannot help browsing your own web site to find design mistakes.
After having read this book with a huge number of best practices, why do you still need to do your own user testing? The reason is because usability guidelines are based on three levels of research:
* general guidelines: user behaviour across most web sites
* specialized guidelines: findings about specific genres or areas of sites (such as e-commerce usability or e-government services)
* specific guidelines: detailed findings about a specific site and its customers
This book only deals with the general guidelines. They may solve 50-80% of your usability problems, but to become best-in-class you need to go all the way to the specific guide-lines.
I like Nielsen's $200 user test. It makes it accessible for anybody. No more excuses. Pick 3-4 people in your target group. Give them some specific tasks for your web site. Then observe. Discover what users actually do, not what they say they do (via questionnaires, etc.). So observe, don't survey. Discuss what you have learned and make the changes. Test again, if need be. It's simple, it is cheap, and it is fast. Use.it!
I have always been very inspired by Nielsen's manifesto for usability. But beware. He may be a little radical in his approach to usability (although seemingly less so as he matures!). For instance, I always found the design of his own Web site awful. It is very usable obvi-ously, but .... To me it just proves the fact that all Web site owners have to find their own right balance between cool design and great usability.
I also recommend Steve Krug's easy-to-read "Don't make me think", and McGovern's books on Web Content. I addition, I strongly recommend the Eisenberg brothers' book on "A call for Action", especially targeted for the e-commerce segment.
A final note: This book is about your customers and what they need, not about you. If that is of your concern, then do spend the next week in companion with this book. Ultimately, it is about you also. Once you start working actively with how people interact with your de-sign, you can make it better than your competitor's.
on 11 April 2009
Anyone who has any influence over the design and creation sites should be made to read this book. Even better, each client should be made to read it as well.
Even with the web being more then a decade old, sites continually make the same simple mistakes that frustrate and turn away users. Every lost customer due to simple web usability problems is just money straight down the drain.
Prioritizing Web Usability really gets to the heart of creating sites that users find unobtrusive and that enable them to reach their goals with as little hassle as possible. From focusing on writing good content that users can understand, to the placement of elements on the page, Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger really lay down the guidelines that we should follow to create successful sites.
There are plenty of good examples throughout the book, with demonstrations of how sites were improved or at least suggestions as to where things could be changed. And it's an extremely accessible with concepts written clearly and concisely.
Throughout the book I was constantly thinking "Why did I not think of this before!" and was left with no end of ideas for tweaks to make to my own site in the hope of making them better.
on 17 July 2007
If you are serious about developing websites, webapps and other software that runs inside a browser, then you should buy and read this book. Many of the problems of 1994 and 2000 are still on the Internet.
It's up to you, the serious web professional to change this scenario and for that Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger can help you, through this book.
It is a mandatory book in your bookshelf, if you're serious. If you're just an amateur then don't waste your time and money on this book.
on 14 June 2010
It's the right book to capture the essence of usability and acquire the core knowledge of the subject. I was following Jacob's newsletter for a few years, but the book gave that structured overview all under one cover. Very happy I finally bought it. Would recommend to anyone who regularly faces questions like 'how do I get it right for my customers/visitors on my site'.
on 29 December 2009
This was the first book I read about usability, and even without knowing the previous research results, it was clear and easy to follow. I liked the approach that even the biggest multinational companies' sites are criticized, and explained why they are not good.