Prioritizing Web Usability (Anglais) Broché – 20 avril 2006
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+ concisely written and well-illustrated
- poor use of popular language (e.g. "lame") at times.
- not much new content, compared to the 1999 "Web Usability" book by Nielsen
- too many references to other reports & seminars which can be purchased from Nielsen/Norman Group. I don't buy a book to receive a sales brochure from a company.
- the book states that you should use "everyday" users to test an "everyday" website. However, in several of the quoted user statements, users use such terms as "I don't think this is user friendly" which sound more like a technical opinion, rather than an empirical fact.
- It seems that some reviews are biased, mainly the one for the Social Security website.
- Some of the websites chosen to review are low-traffic and amateuristic websites. I would have preferred larger websites for all screenshots.
- It's unclear which parts Nielsen wrote, and which parts his associate. I'm afraid that Nielsen lent his name for the cover only.
I've read all of Nielsen's books and I would not
recommend this one since it does not hold as many fundamentals as his 1999 book.
His previous co-authored book on homepages is a well-written and beautifully illustrated book.
- The first 100 pages are pretty obvious to anyone who is at all into website usability, it just talks about improvements made to usability, with little thought given to new usability problems that have appeared since his last book.
- The case studies are good, but he doesn't conduct a big enough sample group. 50 homepages book did this way better, and for bigger and more industry standard websites.
- The last few chapters have very little real direction and seem to have just been bolted on to make the book longer. Almost left a sour taste in my mouth when I finished, making me think, 'hmmm, tell me something I didn't already know'.
If you have already read his first book, then I would seriously recommend his '50 homepages deconstructed' book over this. Way more informative with many more action items in it.
He also continues to ignore critical areas of 'why and how' you need to improve usability - to increase lead generation and sales. This has way more of an impact for most businesses. Books like 'Call to Action' by Brian Eisenberg do a much better job of this and provide you with more action items to improve websites.
I'm disappointed Jakob....
This book starts out (Chapter 1) giving a brief explanation of how the testing was done (69 users around the world), and what websites were included in the tests. Each user was given various tasks to accomplish for each web site and was studied on how they accomplished each task. It then focuses on the importance of user testing on web sites. Personally, I've always felt that unless the website is a large commercial type site (e-commerce), user testing was a waste of time and money. Boy was I wrong...
The next chapter is honestly the best in my opinion because it gives lots of great information on how users look at a website and how long they will give until the move on to another. People that don't design websites really don't realize how little time they have to grab the user's attention so they will use the site and come back to it over and over again. Jakob talks about the importance of your homepage and the average time users spend on it (25-35 seconds) and what can be done to improve the user experience. Then website page snapshots are shown on how users read web pages content. People don't actually read entire web pages content, they scan it. I never knew that...
The rest of Chapter 2 talks about the importance of Search Engine results and how many pages users will go through in order to find what they are looking for (trust me it isn't a lot). I learned more in reading this chapter than I have in years of web design and surfing. You could buy the book solely on this one chapter.
The rest of the book focuses on updating prior usability findings, rating the problems of user failure, navigation and information architecture, readability with typography, writing content, providing good product information, and presenting page elements. The book is only 390 pages, and it seems that you can read it in a day, but believe me; this book has more useful information that books twice its size. This is definitely a book you need to read in parts and really let the information sink in and try to compare the results with websites you have created (I have).
Each chapter has tons of screenshots of the various websites that were tested in visually showing you where the problems occur. This is a great practically web book, that it should be in your library no matter what level of web designer/developer you are...
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.
MSc in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business
Contents: Introduction - Nothing To Hide; The Web User Experience; Revisiting Early Web Usability Findings; Prioritizing Your Usability Problems; Search; Navigation and Information Architecture; Typography - Readability & Legibility; Writing for the Web; Providing Good Product Information; Presenting Page Elements; Balancing Technology with People's Needs; Final Thoughts - Design That Works; Index
I acknowledge that Nielsen is an industry expert in web usability. He has done extensive usability studies with web sites to capture what works and what doesn't when it comes to web design. His book Designing Web Usability is often cited as the bible of what should and shouldn't be done on your site. In Prioritizing, the authors take a look at the past to see if there's been any improvement on the killer sins of web design as covered in Designing. They update the ranking of the most heinous examples of "features", and then cover what items should be addressed first when it comes to fixing your site. There's no way to make a perfect site, and you can use this information to focus on getting the biggest payback on your efforts.
Where I have a problem is with the "attitude" that I perceived in the material. Designing was one of the first web design books I read, and it really put me off of those types of books. The expert says "I don't like this", therefore no one should do that. If something loads in more than 1.52 seconds, it's bad. I'm exaggerating a bit, but that's the sense I got from reading the book. Prioritizing is a bit better, but I still had the feeling that Neilsen's preferences and nitpicking were being held up as "best practices", just because he says so. Yes, I know there is an abundance of research behind his numbers, but going on about how 17% do this and 19% do that got to be a bit much at times. And when I ran across a couple of pages that had a number of typos scattered throughout, I couldn't help but chuckle...
Yes, this is good information to read and know. We all know that many sites leave much to be desired when it comes to actual usage. But I would have had an easier time being open to it if there was a bit more pragmatism and a bit less dogma... Could just be me, and your mileage might vary, however...