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Usability Engineering (Anglais) Broché – 2010
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I was looking for 'use this button for x and this widget for y'. In other words, here are the rules for a good user interface. What I got was 'here is the process for studying users and their interfaces, and here is a mountain of statistics to back it up'. No fault of the author, I just mis-understood what I was getting.
Having said that, if you want to make your living studying and perfecting interface design, read this book.
*the web is slow, less is more.
*tell people what a link leads too before they press it, and make sure it does.
*use standard fonts in easy to read colours.
*use standard web conventions where ever possible as they are familiar.
*check for spelling mistakes and grammar errors.
*write concisely and arrange depth of detail in hierarchies, like they do in errr reference books.
*tell the user where they are, and how they got their, um like a path prehaps.
*some people have small screens, some don't even use microsoft browsers, not everyone has the latest plug ins, allow for it.
*don't employ frustrated artists to design your site, use an engineer.
Jakob proudly states he has multiple patents in the field of usability, maybe following this book will infringe them, or maybe he just kept the good stuff for himself.
Mr. Nielsen, in his book, very aptly points out typical errors and common stumbling blocks of interface design, and presents very convincing arguments and methods for solving these problems. However, strict adherence to Mr. Nielsen's interface design techniques, at the expense of less easily measured human factors, will often result in a sterile and boring product. Both are eminently efficient and usable, but are also wonderful examples of visual blandness -- nearly devoid of the human and aesthetic factors that contributes to a depth of personality and a richness of sensory stimulation.
Although Mr. Nielsen never specifically advocates this, the logical conclusion of his approach is an interface design whose personality and soul have been stripped away in a slavish preference for pure, unencumbered efficiency and usability. Contrary to Mr. Nielsen's examples, the quest for usability should not abrogate the need to avoid ugliness.
For the sake of efficient usability, I wonder if Mr. Nielsen has replaced his impractical, hard-to-maintain backyard lawn with efficient asphalt paving. Or maybe pulled out his expensive, hard-to-clean, dirt collecting, living room carpet and replaced it with an efficient concrete floor. I'm joking of course, but even if Mr. Nielson thinks this way, most do not. Yet, this is the result achieved by many of his user interface examples.
Perhaps on the planet Vulcan where everyone thinks like Mr. Spock, Mr. Nielsen's conclusions and methods might be the eminently rational final word on good interface design. But on Earth the value of his conclusions and usability tests must be weighed against the somewhat hard-to-measure and difficult-to-quantify factors of illogical human personality and perception.
Although Mr. Nielsen's observations, conclusions and suggestions continue to be very valuable in helping to pull interface design towards much needed greater usability and functionality, his mistake seems to be that this is all he sees as being important.
Its a textbook, not a novel, and it has all the advantages (precise, scientific language) and all the drawbacks of a textbook (dry, dense).
However, there isn't any better source on things like how to put together a usability test, how to cost justify usability in the overall design process, or even simply, what the usability process is all about. You can't be serious about software usability if you haven't read this book!
And while Jakob's book "Designing Web Usability" is more popular, to me, this one is the better book.
The most incredible part of the book, in my opinion, is the chapter on inexpensive usability engineering methods, that can easily be adapted by small companies without large budgets. They are really worth reading the book!
I believe everyone who wants a career in UI design should read this book first, before proceeding further. Those who are not usability engineers per se, will get all they need from this book (about interface-design), the UI pros will probably want to read other material too, but this is the place to start.
I would give 4.5 stars if possible. The book is not perfect. But I gave 5 stars to help the average rise a bit... ...hopefully.