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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent hand-held introduction to user-centric development
As an old-school, stuck-in-his-ways developer, I must admit that I was cynical about the burgeoning new fields of functional design, and recoiled at trendy buzzwords and abbreviations like the book title's 'UX'. For a long time, I was focused on simply 'making stuff work', signing everything else off to the graphic designer. This book does a good job of challenging my...
Published on 14 Aug 2012 by R. WEST-SOLEY

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ebook is poor
I liked the examples they use talking about real cases but that was it for me.

I don't like writing bad reviews but no body had mentioned the following:
- reversing the colours on the Kindle app produced an all white screen
- seems like it hasn't been proofread at all (cApitalisation issues and duplicate words)

That spoiled it for me so now...
Published 19 months ago by Sebster

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for web designers., 24 July 2012
R. Tait (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a very useful book. The content is extremely well designed and organised, which I suppose it to be expected from user experience designers; still I found it surprisingly good.

The best part of the book, for me, covers specific website sections (Homepage, Search, Category, Shopping cart...), with each broken down into precise detail. The format for this (many headings or questions, with very short paragraphs) makes it great for reference.

Covered at length are workshops and usability testing. This is generally understood but little practiced. The authors are very prescriptive about how these should be carried out - use useful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deep dive into researching user requirements and creating great experiences, 23 July 2012
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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Smashing UX Design is a deep dive into the process of analysing what users are going to want from your website and then a slightly swifter precis of how to turn these into wireframes and sites, with notes on what makes generally great user experience for homepages, category pages, shopping carts, search pages, and other specific parts of your site. This is suited to the extended process of constructing a larger site project rather than a small business online presence, and gives a good handle on techniques used by high-end digital agencies for major clients.

The bulk of this book is about researching what it is your users will want. The presupposition is that you already know more or less how to construct websites, and so little attention is given to those technical aspects. If you have never been a social science or marketing researcher, then the extensive treatment of focus groups, expert groups stakeholder interviews and usability tests may seem a little superfluous. However, practical experience of running big web projects suggests that the more time and energy invested in the research and planning stage, the smoother the construction of the site goes and the greater the effectiveness and user-response when it is finished.

I went through more or less exactly the process described last year with a high-end London agency on behalf of a major UK hospital. It took three or four times as long as the actual coding and construction of the site, but there is no denying that the user response when it was completed was very substantially better than the hospital's original site. As well as guiding the developers to the right solution, the degree of documentation produced meant that the site was easy to defend when critics insisted on more of this or more of that, which is usually the signal for the start of strategic drift in a big online project.

If you are commissioning such a site, this book will be invaluable in telling you what the analysts are doing, and why they are doing it. If you are actually doing the analysis then you will need some fairly concrete experience beforehand: the book works at the guide-book/reminder level. It will not take you from zero to expert.

The final section which deconstructs best practice in various areas of websites is more directly applicable if you are leading the construction of a big project -- though, without the research programme advised by the first part of the book, you will be only applying general stuff, rather than specifically what your users need.

This is a deep-dive book, and requires a fair bit of experience to get the most out of it. If you are already skilled in researching user perceptions and understand how sites operate, this will give you an excellent framework for applying what you already know. Otherwise, it serves as a good introduction to the topic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant it has changed the way I will think about software design, 16 July 2012
Andrew Dalby "ardalby" (oxford) - See all my reviews
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I work in bioinformatics and statistical analysis of large scale data. The first thing we always think about is the analysis and the calculation and the last thing is the user. For those who do not know UX stands for user experience and in my line of work the user is a biologist. They want to answer a biological question and they don't want to have to do it by fighting with a hard to use interface or by facing a command line or by needing to know all the algorithms and statistical methods that could be used. They need access to the right tools for the right situations and they need to be able to link what they know to what they want to find out.

The key to making all of these processes happen is the user experience. Doctors won't use a new online patient tracking and record system if using it takes too much time and effort. Many major government projects fail because of this. If the software engineer doesn't know what is really wanted then they cannot build it. Too often the end users do not really know what they want and so this book shows you how you can find it out using many different techniques that will suit all sorts of project, sizes, lengths and budgets. It is an invaluable resource and it should be on every software engineer's bookshelf.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Comprehensive!, 10 July 2012
A. Kwabula (UK) - See all my reviews
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This book changed the way I do my Web Applications. In the past I have beeen doing what I thought was good for the user. Of course, I do some reading on User Experience but I have not gone to the extent of really empathise with users who will be using the Web Applications I build. I have looked at competitor products but I had not really given that part of the design much thought, the book goes into details on how to do that. Usability testing is well covered and I am grateful I have read about, as it has changed the way I do things with regard to usability testing.

Well this book changed all that as I now place the user at the centre of the whole project. After reaching page 288, I went to one of my recently completed CMS (Content Management System) to improve the Home Page so that it becomes more useful to users. I have known the Home Page as the landing page and that it is supposed to create first impressions. After reading 75% of the book I realised the home page, needed certain links and I had to win over the visitor and that depended on what is on the page.

The book goes in a whole lot of details and I think personally I may not implement some of the suggestions, but that is not to say they are useless, it's just that it really will depend on what type of Web Application you are building.

I have read dozens of books on best practices and while those books are useful in their own right, they just cannot replace this book. Therefore I highly recommend this book to anyone designing databases and websites or any Web Application that will be used by real people out there.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for professionals and amateur system designers, 9 July 2012
AM (UK) - See all my reviews
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As a Business (Systems) Analyst I find myself designing new user interfaces on a frequent basis for a .NET system. I was intrigued to see how a book would describe how it was done and find this to be more than adequate.

It describes wire-framing, user workshops, requirement gathering and analysis, a bit of tradtional systems lifecycle (Waterfall method), a bit of new project mgt thinking (Agile)...basically everything that a BA needs to be involved in. There's some useful hints and tips which I'll refer to from time to time and perhaps better methods than I sometimes use.

All in all, a good reference book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for design professionals but not for everyone, 6 July 2012
Mr. T. Anderson "onlyconnect" - See all my reviews
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What is UX Design, you may wonder? The theory behind it is that UX, or User Experience, is primary when designing a web site. The word "experience" suggests that this is not just about usability, or attractiveness, or performance, or enjoyment, but rather about all those things and how they combine when the end user is navigating your site.

This book is for professional designers who want techniques for putting UX design into practice. The authors work for a UK-based UX consultancy and the book is written from their perspective, including tips on how to work with your clients. That can be annoying if you are not working in that particular niche, but the expertise and professionalism of the content more than compensates.

It is worth noting though that Smashing UX Design is more about the process than about the outcome, though there are plenty of practical tips along the way. This is not a book about technology, so look elsewhere (perhaps to one of the other Smashing titles) if you want help with making beautiful web pages using CSS, or a how-to guide for building web sites.

The book is in four parts. Part one is a general introduction to the concepts behind UX design and planning UX projects. Part two covers tools and techniques for UX research and evaluation, such as running requirements workshops, usability tests, surveys, analytics, and expert reviews.

The third part is about tools and techniques for UX design. If you are wondering what an Ideation Workshop is, you will find out how to run one here. Another technique described is how to create a "user persona", a fictional user who represents a category of users. There is also a discussion of wireframes, sketches and prototypes.

Finally, the fourth part looks in more detail at UX design for specific site pages, including the home page, search, product pages, shopping carts, images and tables. This was the section which I enjoyed most, being full of practical suggestions and thought-provoking comments on what makes web pages work well for the user.

There is a too-brief chapter on mobile UX and I would suggest that this is a weakness of the book: not much on how tablets and smartphones are impacting UX design.

The book is written in such a way that you can turn to any page and learn something new; the chapters do not often refer to previous pages or sections. If you wanted to learn about competitor benchmarking, for example, then you would open the book and turn to chapter 6, which is on this subject.

Is this book for you? If you run or plan to run a web design business, then it is perfect. If you are doing your own web design, or just want to understand it better, then you will find good content here but also a rather jargon-heavy style and probably more information than you need about working with clients and running workshops of various kinds.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good solid reference to Interface Design, 2 July 2012
A. I. Mackenzie "alimack" (Glasgow, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
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This covers ground that other books don't. It's pretty much a soup to nuts guide to building good internet interfaces (including mobile devices).

I've been involved in building websites for about 10 years (mainly from the development side) and there's not really much that I found brand new in terms of advice, however this book will be useful to three groups of people:

1) Newbies;
2) As a reference to the more experienced designer;
3) As a guide to persuade the boss to do the right thing.

The only slight deficiency is that the book is a bit 'textbooky', and a little dry to read. Its perfect complement is Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability which gives a higher level view of Design (what are you trying to do). The plus side of the textbook approach is that it's very comprehensive. Note that the book gives advice on the what and the how of web design but it doesn't cover specific software products - you'll need to look elsewhere for this.

Overall worth buying.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive and complete UX book for practitioners and clients, 26 Jun 2012
M. Bhangal "S" (Somewhere in Northern England) - See all my reviews
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UX (user experience) is something I've never formally learnt.

Actually, scrub that: I've never formally learnt *anything* to do with web design.

My problem is that I began in web design around 2000, and there were no courses or university degrees. Like everyone else back then, I just picked it up via trial and error on the job.
Twelve years later, I like to think I'm pretty good on the technical side (HTML, Flash, AJAX, and am able to explain alpha-geek stuff such as `the relative merits of web application frameworks using dependency injection vs. ones that use service locators'), but I always thought UX design was one of those degree course units that the code-illiterate fell back on. The photography unit tends to be the other one.

Over the last few years, the company I work for has developed from a few hackers and geeks poring over laptops to something a lot more serious, and it really is about time I got equally serious with UX, not least because we are currently moving from old desktop based technology (Flex) to true HTML5 multi-platform stuff (Sencha, Angular, Dojo and all the hipster frameworks they dig down in Shoreditch), and consistent user experience across a wide number of formats is now key.

I've looked at a few other UX books (and the only other good alternative to this book is (Effective UI: The Art of Building Great User Experience in Software) By Anderson, Jonathan (Author) Paperback on (02 , 2010)), but Smashing UX design hits right on the button. Not only does it cover all the stuff I've already used (wireframing, usability, user requirements, etc), but it presents it within an easy to follow framework that also includes all the other things I'm missing (stakeholder management and user requirements vs business requirements, competitor benchmarking, etc).

The entire book is written in an easy style that makes the process logical and easy to follow. Unlike some of the more techy books on the subject, this one is also full colour throughout. Bonus points go to the authors for using `two women looking at a laptop' and `woman staring at a screen with fists clenched' photos without resorting to stock photography. A web design book first!

If you are an old time web dev like myself (or a hacker who was too cool for school), this book is the best substitute for that degree course UX module you never had (I run a photography blog, so I'm covered for the photography unit there, might be an idea if you also need that one).

Bottom line:

This is not yet another usability or SEO book pretending to be a UX manual. It is a proper manual on multimedia project specification and design, covering the whole process except actual code/markup implementation.

if you are a web developer looking for one book on UX design (or even just plain old fashioned web usability) this is the one, especially if you are the manager of a small/medium web design department, and want to identify best practice project management, specification and testing workflows that will enable you to manage mid/large sized client spends, where there is now a much higher expectation of a UX centric process.

If you are a project manager or SME MD looking for something to read before commissioning a mid/large sized website (£30k+), get this book for an industry standard overview of the design process. You can then quickly identify whether your design agency is doing things properly or whether they are just a set of hackers, as I used to be before reading this book!

Notes and disclaimers
I have been involved in web design since 2000. I have written 20 books on web design (O'Reilly, Wiley, Springer) 2000-2005. I am currently employed as dev lead, working for the fastest growing online advertising company in the US/EMEA.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, 26 Sep 2014
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Great book. Covers a lot of best practices when taking on UX projects and breaks down key elements of UX projects in a concise and understandable way. Definitely a book I can see myself coming back to again and again in the coming months.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Apart from the irritating jargon in the title ..., 26 July 2012
Ross Boardman "Ross B" (Staffordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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... it's a very good manual. I'm not a big fan on trendy abbreviations, especially when the term itself is not altogether that easy to understand. Anyhow UX is user experience. In this case about how your website works for the visitor.

Like a number of the Smashing titles it also covers the business and the planning side. If you offer some form of consultancy or design service in this area then you are given a walk through of how to present, blueprint and manage a project. If you are not doing that, then it still has enough high quality material to help you in your web design.

The overall understanding of the flow of user experience is well explained and to be honest, I like the authors' approach. Some chapters get very specific on their subject such as menu design, search, home page design, shopping carts and the use of photos. If you were to dip into these chapters when you are developing that area of a site, I am sure you would come away with some very useful tips and caveats.

Overall a very well written and easy to understand book. Some of the tools they recommend are no more complicated than pen, paper and post-it notes.
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