Top positive review
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Best read in chunks
on 19 July 2012
I am currently working in the Digital department of a UK non-profit. Our entire web estate is in the throws of planning for a complete re-build from the ground up on account of it being quite disparate and sporadic in its current form with no thought towards usability. I work with Analytics on a daily basis, but extending my reach into UX is something that has been asked of me, to provide another viewpoint and help contribute to the site design and experience.
I've approached this book from a neutral standing and although I am only half-way through it, making various study notes along the way, there are a few points that I have observed that I felt worthy of including in my review:
Firstly, the book has a tendency to go over the same points several times. I often found that the briefest of paragraphs or summary table would have sufficed and got their point across just as much as the pages preceding that to me felt like rambling.
In many respects, the book reads like a diary of the authors' experience in the role of consultants to others, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and I certainly appreciate the use of case studies, but some of the situations really didn't seem like they were worth including as they either had nothing of value to add to the chapter, or simply repeated aspects previously mentioned.
One thing to definitely bear in mind is that UX design is an organic philosophy. It changes all the time as different ways of interacting with digital mediums arise with every generation of technology. For a book such as this to be on the bleeding-edge of technology would be impossible. References are made towards the back of the book about how mobile design has changed from preferences of producing an "App" to making a Mobile Site to using Responsive design. This is an area of great interest to me as my Analytics show that our own site's non-standard desktop audience has increased over the past 6 months from 8% to 12% in some areas, so it would have been beneficial for me to have seen some examples or pros and cons or caveats of these approaches to design instead of just a casual mention.
The pictures and illustrations I thought also missed the boat. A picture of a person sat at a computer showed "Visual Design in Progress". A different person sat at a different computer on the opposite page showed "Development work in Progress". They hardly seemed worth it. Perhaps they were merely used to break up the masses of text.
One thing I was looking to find as well which this book fell short of, was visual examples - such as poor UX elements in existing designs, and then the improved versions, together with reasoning and methodology.
But enough of all that. Taking a step back and looking at this book as a point of reference on certain techniques or stages in UX design review is probably more useful than doing a cover-to-cover read. This way, you can zero-in on a particular section and reflect on the ideas and suggestions that they put. You will also become less aware of the repetition of various aspects that are re-visited in each chapter.
Taking that on-board, my rating of this book sits around the 3.5-4 mark. I'll let it ride at 4 rather than be too harsh. My own personal preference would be around more use of case-study material, and more detail within those case-studies - such as particular granular elements that might be worthy of note or lessons learnt in themselves. Better use of illustration and an a less wordy approach to the book would also have been an improvement in my opinion.