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C. Jarrett "forms and usability expert" (Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire United Kingdom)

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Web Survey Methodology (Research Methods for Social Scientists)
Web Survey Methodology (Research Methods for Social Scientists)
by Mario Callegaro
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A practical and reliable guide to all the relevant research on web survey methodology, 14 Sept. 2015
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If you want a complete insight into all the best research on web survey methodology, this convenient volume is for you.

Written by three of the most thoughtful academics in survey methodology, this book brings takes you through all the steps in preparing and conducting a web survey (as compared to traditional face-to-face, mail or telephone surveys).

The book has European flavour and displays their deep knowledge of the challenges of working across languages and communities, a point that can be lacking in books from authors from the United States.

The authors have extensive practical experience themselves, and are active participants in international surveys and the wider community of survey research. They are thorough in their use of references to the publish literature, but also aren't afraid to share practical tips - for example, in areas like the actual management of the pre-fielding, fieldwork and post-fielding stages. The checklist on p162 alone would justify the cost of the book for anyone who is contemplating moving an existing non-web survey to the web mode.

Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work
Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work
by Indi Young
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, clear, and helpful, 11 April 2015
"Voice of the customer". "Understand user needs". "Get out of our silos". "No more group-think".

It's no longer news that it's a good idea to understand, respect, and design for other people's perspectives. And there are plenty of books around on a plethora of specific techniques to help with that. (Disclosure: I'm writing one myself, on surveys).

Indi Young's engaging little book takes a different approach. Her focus on 'empathy' gets away from the ability to share the feelings of others to focus on understanding those feelings in ways that help us to act on them.

The chapter that I found most immediately useful was Chapter 4, 'A new way to listen'. She gets away from the language of 'the interview' - as she points out, a concept that may bring up uncomfortable resonances of job interviews, disciplinary interviews, and other stereotyped interactions. Instead, she proposes 'Listening sessions' - and explains exactly how to do them, in a way that's clear, practical, and allows for flexibility.

That 'practical' note shines through the rest of the book - and definitely justifies its place in her title. You'll find solid advice here for learning about others - customers, clients, colleagues - and then using that understanding in our own designs, in our workplaces, and in developing an 'empathetic mindset' for everyday life.

Early in the book, she's included this 'Frequently Asked Question': "How are you using the word "empathy?"
And her answer is:
"This book is not about the kind of empathy where you feel the same emotions as another person. It's about understanding how another person thinks--what's going on inside her head and heart. And most importantly, it's about acknowledging her reasoning and emotions as valid, even if they differ from your own understanding. This acknowledgment has all sorts of practical applications, especially in your work. This book explores using empathy in your work, both in the way you make things and the way you interact with people."

I think that sums up the book very well indeed.

A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences
A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences
by Sarah Horton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last: the book we need now on accessibility, 16 May 2014
Some dozen years ago, I had a conversation with a web developer that went like this:

Him:"Our web site meets WCAG triple A"
Me:"But do you know whether people with disabilities can use it?"

Of course, he was right to be proud of his achievement. The WCAG guidelines, published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the W3C consortium, are "a single shared standard for web content accessibility". It's important to meet them.

But I was also right. The purpose of the guidelines, and of all accessibility initiatives, is to create things that people with disabilities can use. For example: my father. His sight is no longer good enough for him to be able to drive, so now grocery shopping happens online. He struggles to read anything on paper, but the web means he can continue his historical research.

Up to now, there were books and resources about making things work for people with disabilities, and there was WCAG. But there were lots of gaps between them.

Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery have magnificently filled those gaps with this book. I'm going to declare an interest: they shared an early draft with me. At that stage, their intention was clear and what I wanted. But I hope they won't mind if I reveal that the draft I saw was best described as a muddle. I cheered them on - but between you and me, I wondered if they'd manage to deliver.

Well, they certainly did. A remarkably short time later, I got back my copy. Wow! This was the book that I wanted them to write. It's clear, it's engaging, it's practical. It's about making things work for people with disabilities. And it explains how what we need to do relates to the WCAG standard.

Buy it, read it, use it.

Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set...Test!
Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set...Test!
by Carol M. Barnum
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Practical advice for the DIY usability tester, 23 Sept. 2011
Heard about usability testing and want to try it yourself?

This book will take you step-by-step through all the key considerations, from thinking about why you want to test through the details of planning, running, and reporting what you find.

The author is a much-loved professor who understands what it is to teach, and to learn. She complements that with practical experience, running a real usability tests for real commercial clients with business problems to solve. So although you'll find plenty of references and academic justification of her approach, this is definitely not an 'ivory tower' that recommends things that are impractical: it's a book that reflects what practitioners do everday, and what you can accomplish yourself if you are prepared to be orderly and thoughtful.

In these days of the world-wide web, we also need to think about how our web sites and products will be used by international audiences - a topic you don't find covered in other books on usability testing, but which is a key consideration throughout this one.

Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design (Voices That Matter)
Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design (Voices That Matter)
by Giles Colborne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.89

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dip in, think, act, 21 Oct. 2010
Let's be clear: this is a very short book. It's not going to teach you tons of stuff about how to create a better product. It's not a textbook.

What it is: pared-down, thought-provoking, beautiful.

When I picked it up, my first thought was 'lovely' and my second was 'is that it?'. It didn't seem weighty enough to have that much of an impact.

As I read it, I realise that there's a lot more insight in it than the size implies. Giles has worked really hard to pare this down to a few simple messages that you can act on straight away.

Yes, you can read it all in a (fairly short) train or plane ride. I did that, but I found that I kept stopping to reflect on ideas in the book and how I wanted to use them, or challenge myself to use them, in various projects. I'll come back to it, both to read through and to dip in now and then when I need a little thoughtful inspiration.

Definitely recommended.

Storytelling for User Experience: Crafting Stories for Better Design
Storytelling for User Experience: Crafting Stories for Better Design
by Whitney Quesenbery
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about storytelling in user experience. Inspiring., 21 May 2010
I've been eagerly waiting for this book ever since Whitney Quesenbery asked me to comment on parts of the book as they wrote it, and I knew that they had chosen to use some of my stories. So as I quickly had my first glance through the book, I couldn't resist looking first at the places where I was mentioned, and came to this story from Whitney:

"The first time I talked about storytelling in public, I was pretty nervous. Debi Parush, Karen Bachmann, and Basil White sat up with me the night before while I ripped up and rewrote the whole presentation. The next morning, I arrived to find a room full of people and Caroline Jarrett sitting in front, notepad at the ready. Terrifying".

And I'd thought I was being friendly and attentive! What she doesn't say is that her presentation was brilliant. I started using stories myself, and I also invited her to teach a workshop at a training event I was organising a few months later. We've been working together on and off ever since.

That story sums up our whole working relationship, based on deep mututal respect, constantly challenging each other to do the best work we possibly can, and occasional dramatic differences in perspective.

Which brings me to my review of the book. I've given it five stars, as you might expect knowing that Whitney and I work together, but I hope my story helps to convice you that despite our association, I'd never do that unless I thought the book thoroughly deserved them.

Chapters 1 through 5 are the first section of the book. They explain how stories work, calling on our shared human experiences that go back to the time before writing when our culture, history, and craft were communicated through stories. Even if you only have time for one chapter, buy this book for chapter 3 "Stories start with listening", which explains the importance of listening and is full of practical tips about how to do it better: as a user experience practitioner, as an employee, as a consultant, as a boss.

Chapters 6 though 10 dive into the practicalities of using stories in user experience design: finding stories, brainstorming with stories, using stories to influence decision-makers, and much more.

And then chapters 11 through 16 are the bit that challenges you to do even better. This book isn't just about using any old story, it's about using the best story you can - and understanding the elements that make it so. To give just one example: if you've wondered why your reports haven't had the impact you wanted, then turn to Chapter 15 for ways that stories can help.

Summary: buy it, read it, use it. You'll improve your user experience designs if you do.

Beyond the Usability Lab: Conducting Large-scale Online User Experience Studies
Beyond the Usability Lab: Conducting Large-scale Online User Experience Studies
by William Albert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £35.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The must-read book for usability specialists who are conducting online studies, 8 Mar. 2010
If you are a user experience practitioner, then you will already understand the crucial importance of getting user feedback on your work by conducting lots of usability tests.

What should you do when you need to reach large numbers of users in a short time, or if your users are geographically remote from you? Turn to this book, that's what.

When you need to reach a large audience using online tools, Bill Albert, Tom Tullis and Donna Tedesco will guide you, inform you, and help you. The book is full of practical tips: this team that has a wealth of experience, both in actual business contexts and in academia.

They explain how to plan, organise, conduct, analyse, and present your study, and they aren't afraid to tackle tricky topics like dealing with possibly fraudulent participants. Highly recommended

Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-it-yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems (Voices That Matter)
Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-it-yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems (Voices That Matter)
by Steve Krug
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get started in usability testing, 8 Feb. 2010
If you want to find and fix usability problems in your web site, the bad news is that finding them on your own is extremely difficult. You'll overlook massive show-stoppers because you know how the site is meant to work.

The good news is that usability testing, getting someone else to use your web site while you watch them, is very easy and extremely informative.

In this short, encouraging book, Steve Krug explains what you have to do in his wonderfully approachable style. In Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, he zeroed on in the really important points about web site usability. In this new book, he's done it again with usability testing. It's boiled down to the essence of an approach that anyone could use, in 'a morning a month'.

Steve does not claim that this is a comprehensive manual for how to do any type of usability test. For that, he includes recommendations for further reading, such as Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests.

Not does he claim that his method is full-on, professional testing. In fact, he says: "If you can afford to hire a usability professional to do your testing for you, do it".

This book is for anyone who wants to make sure that their web site is easy to use, but doesn't have the budget for a professional.

Having said that, I am a usability consultant and I still found it worthwhile to read this book. If you've struggled to get clients to make the changes that you know are necessary, then here's an opportunity to pick up some ideas.

(Disclosure: Steve wrote the foreword to my book Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability (Interactive Technologies))

The Best V.A.T. Business Accounts Book: For a VAT Registered Small Business
The Best V.A.T. Business Accounts Book: For a VAT Registered Small Business
by Peter Hingston
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use book for simple businesses, 11 May 2009
If you run a small business and find that the computer programs are too complicated for you, then try using this simple book. Another review says "This is just a set of spreadsheets". That's sort of correct: what you get here is a simple set of pages that you write into. But it also misses the point, which is that the book provides advice right there where you need it, next to the page you're working on.

All you have to do is to put the entries where you are told to and keep up with the paperwork quarterly for your VAT returns.

I've used this book happily since 1994. I tried switching over to a computer software package a couple of years ago, but it took me twice as long to do all the entries and then it wouldn't produce a VAT return.

These days I'm more modern and run a set of spreadsheets that duplicate the book alongside it: they help me to double-check my figures. But spreadsheets can get lost or corrupted whereas it is easy to flip back into the book and find out exactly what happened.

If you want a 'how to run your business' book with lots of tips about saving money, then don't buy this book.

If you want a simple-to-use book for writing your accounts into, then try this book.

Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies)
Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies)
by Janice (Ginny) Redish
Edition: Paperback
Price: £31.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I buy this book by the dozen, 11 May 2009
When Ginny Redish told me that she was going to write a book on web content, I was excited but nervous. She's the best speaker I know, the most knowledgeable person in our field, and loves sharing that knowledge - would she be able to transfer all of that to the printed page?

And of course, she did - brilliantly. This book makes you feel that you've got Ginny by your side, guiding and helping you to be the best that you could be.

I keep my copy close at hand, and always have a stock of them for clients. Even if you are an expert in writing, usability, or web sites, you'll find that Ginny has a way of neatly explaining key concepts that saves you time and effort when you want to get your clients or colleagues to understand them.

If you're getting started in usability or writing for the web, you'll find that Ginny guides you from start to excellent finish and makes it all seem easy.

You can imagine how thrilled I was when Ginny graciously agreed that our book Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability (Interactive Technologies) could be a companion volume to hers. Thanks again, Ginny.

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