Nearly every book on user interface and site design I've read is aimed at the professional designer who understands the nuances of color, fonts and graphics elements, as well as aesthetics in general. Many of the subtle points are lost on the non professional.
The book begins with a short chapter on the foundations of good design, which provides principles, dispels myths, and stays focused on customer-centric goals. The heart of the book is Part II, which consists of 12 different design patterns based on real life examples. It leads you through each example, showing you how a particular design or design concept works and why. This is akin to the Rosetta Stone for the non-professional designer because the authors do not assume any talent of skills in design, and subtle points are highlighted and clearly explained. Because of this approach I finally understood concepts that had eluded me in the past. In addition to the clear explanations that distill design into patterns, the book is lavishly illustrated, using copious full color examples and a structured format that gives the background, frames the problem and provides a solution to each of the 12 design goals.
Material in the appendices is also invaluable, including advice on running usability evaluation, and associated plan outlines and forms. For a development group this is an extra bonus that will make it easier to incorporate the principles in this book into a quality process that gives customer-focused usability the same weight as technical quality criteria.
I'm so enthusiastic about this book that I've recommended to the company for which I work that a copy of this book be provided to each of our developers who are programming wizards, but who stumble when it comes to the user interface.
This is the first computer related book that I have bought and thought - "Perfect, just what I needed." What I like most about this book is that it spends so little time explaining why building user centered web sites is a good idea, and tells you exactly what techniques are used to create them. You can open the book up to almost any page, read a paragraph and get something out of it. It is clear that the authors spend alot of time laying out the book to make information retrieval easy.
Dont let "look inside" pictures that amazon has posted fool you - they are probably the only boring sections of the book. In part 2 (about page 100), the book gets really really good. For the next 500 pages they cover almost every area of of web design imaginable and present the areas in a problem - solution format. Many books dont offer concrete techniques, just tell you - "design for the user", "users hate poorly designed pages" etc etc. Each problem/solution is about 2 pages long, and they are web techniques that can be applied to almost every web site. They literally say to solve X problem do Y solution. Very specific, very useful.
The book also is good from cover to cover. I have found that alot of books are good for the first chapter and then loose quality. They present each "nugget of information" with the perfect amount of description - enough to explain why its useful, but not too much to drag on.
They also use these hand drawn pictures that I liked to show how a generic web page would function, instead of only pictures of pre-existing web pages ( which they also have ample examples) So you can actually apply it to your project instead of saying, I understand why hotmail looks the way it does. I would recommend this book to anyone, hands down.
I admit it; I'm a sucker for web design books. Whenever a book comes out on the subject, I tend to rush to buy it, hoping it can show me how to improve my craft, and make the designs I create better and more effective. Most of the time I'm disappointed because the book is simply a paean to whatever the latest and 'greatest' is in the world of hip and hot design.
I don't want to know how to make what's hip and hot...I can figure that out for myself. What I want is to see how I can implement proven strategies that help users (my users) get things done as they use the product. And that's the true strength of this book; it's what it's all about. With almost 100 'patterns' of website design, this book breaks it down in simple, easy-to-get terms, that I, a technical usability specialist can understand and then turn around and reproduce. It's almost like a cookbook, in the sense that the book shows me:
1) What the patterns is, how it's used in the real world, and different flavors of it
2) Why the pattern is good, how it's been successful, and in some cases how it's been refined.
3) How the pattern works, what are it's components, and what does it need to be successful
4) And finally, what other patterns it's like, and how by incorporating parts of other patterns, I can strengthen my users' experience.
I want this...I don't have time to be reinventing the wheel every time my employer or a client wants a site. I need to be able to pick up a reference book and see exactly what a `community' site (or one of a hundred other types of sites) is like, so I have a good starting place to work from as I delve into what the project sponsor wants. This book helps me by already doing the leg-work of research into best practices, common features, and pitfalls. By giving me that already, I don't have to spend time doing figuring that stuff already out, and rather can spend time doing what's important...listening to my client, employer, and user base to figure out how to meet their specific needs, and make them all happy.
That's easily worth the price of admission.
Gary W. Wheeler
Have you ever wondered why you return time and time again to certain web sites yet there are others you wish not to return again?
One of the measurements of site success is customer retention. In order to retain your customers, you must know and understand them. Not all web sites have the same customer requirements but they do share some of the same principles. Van Duyne, Landay, and Hong provide the guidance to explain the differentiation of site categories, what they have in common and what customers expect out of them. They reveal how the top benchmark sites are developed from the customer viewpoint. They explain how a customer should know where they are on a site and to navigate, even if they enter the site 5 layers down.
The authors define eleven site genres and then discuss the various patterns that best fit specific type of site or general to multiple types of sites. There have been many books written on web usability and design ... but this book provides the reading experience that can be applied to any site.
Have you ever wondered why you return time and time again to certain books yet there are others you wish not to return again? This book is a "Page Returner."
This book is highly recommended.
Craig L. Howe
It is a rare privilege to spend time with masters of their profession. It is rarer still to read a book written by them.
The Design of Sites: Patterns, Principles and Processes for Crafting a Customer-Centered Web Experience. Creating a website is easy. Creating a website that connects with your audience is not so easy. It takes planning, experience, an intuitive understanding of your audience and skill.
The authors have done much of the work. They have taken the time to reduce their knowledge to writing. Their book distills the practices that result in sites that draw repeat visitors to simple patterns, principles and processes. The book is comprehensive and easy to use. It can be read front-to-back. It can be read in snippets. It provides design solutions to common web design problems. Follow the patterns and you will shorten your development cycles and reduce your maintenance costs.
If you are in the Web Development or Design business, buy the book. I promise it will be dog-eared from use in a short period of time.