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Defensive Design for the Web: How to improve error messages, help, forms, and other crisis points Paperback – Mar 2 2004
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From the Back Cover
Let's admit it: Things will go wrong online. No matter how carefully you design a site, no matter how much testing you do, customers still encounter problems. So how do you handle these inevitable breakdowns? With defensive design. In this book, the experts at 37signals (whose clients include Microsoft, Qwest, Monster.com, and Clear Channel) will show you how.
Defensive design is like defensive driving brought to the Web. The same way drivers must always be on the lookout for slick roads, reckless drivers, and other dangerous scenarios, site builders must constantly search for trouble spots that cause visitors confusion and frustration. Good site defense can make or break the customer experience.
In these pages, you'll see hundreds of real-world examples from companies like Amazon, Google, and Yahoo that show the right (and wrong) ways to get defensive. You'll learn 40 guidelines to prevent errors and rescue customers if a breakdown occurs. You'll also explore how to evaluate your own site's defensive design and improve it over the long term.
This book is a must read for designers, programmers, copywriters, and any other site decision-makers who want to increase usability and customer satisfaction.
About the Author
Chicago-based 37signals (www.37signals.com) is a team of web design and usability specialists dedicated to simple, and usable, customer-focused design. 37signals popularized the concept of contingency/defensive design in various articles and white papers and via the web site DesignNotFound.com. The team also has conducted workshops and presentations on the topic for a variety of conferences and companies.
37signals clients include Microsoft, Qwest, Monster.com, Clear Channel, Panera Bread, Meetup, Performance Bike, and Transportation.com. Work has been featured in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Washington Post, on CNN, and in numerous other publications. Team members have appeared as featured speakers at AIGA Risk/Reward, Activ8, South By Southwest, HOW Design Conference, ForUse, and other conferences. Additional information can be found at www.37signals.com.This book is authored by Matthew Linderman with Jason Fried. Other members of the 37signals team include Ryan Singer and Scott Upton.
Top Customer Reviews
Skeptical, I sat with those who made the claims, and we compared our techniques against those this excellent book proposes using live web pages on our intranet. Surprise. We did not measure up, and were certainly not "already doing this".
Phase two, I had one member of my team reengineer one of the smaller internal web sites on our intranet using the techniques given in this book. Business users gave the results high marks, and my team began accepting the book as the official usability guide.
Result: this book has made a measurable difference in the quality of internal web sites we are designing and deploying for various lines of business within our corporation. It is now embraced by my team, and is used as a standard of good practice in web usability. The advice provided in the book has also resulted in less support calls to our team, freeing them to work on design and deployment instead of answering end user questions.
Moral: do not let the surface simplicity of this book fool you. While its contents and advice may seem obvious, chances are that your team is not following those obvious design rules.
The writers keep the technical talk to a minimum, and really focus on what contingency design is, how it helps users, and how it is implemented in various sites around the web, if it is implemented at all. It also gives pointers on how to avoid these pitfalls in your own development. Also, it gives alternative examples to prove a point, relating it to something physical rather than electronic.
One example is comparing the annoying flash ads that appear on top of sites, disabling the functionality of certain elements, to trying to leave a travel agent office, and instead, the agent has blocked the door and keeps handing you brochures.
The sites chosen by the author as examples are very popular sites that a majority of readers have at least heard of if not visited. They range in variance from search engines, to e-commerce sites, to general sites with little application implementation. Many sites are mentioned in multiple chapters, sometimes having great contingency design for what the chapter is about, sometimes not. It is interesting to see that some sites succeed in certain areas while at the same time failing in others.
The "Head to Head" features are also great. This takes to sites that would be seen as competitors (Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon, K-mart vs. Wal-Mart, Foot Locker vs. Finish Line, etc.) and shows how they each handle the same contingency design element in different ways.Read more ›
This is not strictly a book for web designers. It is a great one for business owners and those who actually pay the bills for web design. It helps explain why something is bad if they have a paricular pet peeve about doing something you think is plain bad design.
Being a web developer, I can't say everything in it was something I didn't know. Some of it's just plain common sense. What I really liked was that it's short, to the point, and has an abundance of examples of both how to do something and how NOT to do it. If you want to create a better user experience, get this book.
Web site designers/developers who need to learn how to reduce the frustration factor in their sites.
This book covers the subject of how to code web sites that gracefully handle unexpected conditions encountered by visitors.
The book is divided into the following chapters:
Understanding Defensive Design; Show The Problem; Language Matters; Bulletproof Forms; Missing In Action; Lend A Helping Hand; Get Out Of The Way; Search And Rescue; Out Of Stocks and Unavailable Items; The Contingency Design Test; Contingency Design
We've all visited web sites that promise cool things. But somewhere along the way, you do something that is not quite what the program expected. Maybe you entered an incorrect date or missed a required field. Your joy quickly disappears as the site makes you jump through a number of hoops to correct the data or get back on track. They end up losing a customer without even knowing it. If you're a web developer, this is a critical issue for you, and the book Defensive Design for the Web is what you need to start correcting these issues.
The authors present 40 guidelines that cover different aspects of defensive design, or contingency design as they call it. Some are pretty basic, such as "Always identify errors the same way". Others require a bit more thought in the coding of the site, such as "Assist form dropouts by saving information". But instead of just stating the guideline and moving on, they take it a step further. Using familiar and popular web sites, they provide "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" examples of each guideline. By seeing the guidelines actually applied in real-life, you are much more likely to understand the problems associated with it.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is an easy to read, easy to understand and logical book. If you are a web developer and have to make any decision related to user interface elements, this is a must in your... Read morePublished on Sept. 26 2013 by Marc Beaudry
I have read a few books on this topic and found this book to be good for those that are begining to do professional development and it also serves as a good review for those that... Read morePublished on June 6 2004
This book is a short, easy and must-read book for all Web developers. It does not cover any particular technology or language, but offers a host of tips and advices on how to make... Read morePublished on May 6 2004
This book has really helped me a lot in developing my website [...] I really appreciate the author's work out for we India based web design firms. Read morePublished on May 5 2004
I've been planning a redesign of my website for several months now and during that time I've been trying to find out all the weak points and strengths of the current design. Read morePublished on April 8 2004 by Chrispian Burks
I have really enjoyed reading DNF and other 37signals related material. I like their philosophy about web design etc... Read morePublished on April 5 2004
Anytime Zeldman devotes a blog entry to a book, you know it's good. This one is great. I've been designing forms for 20 years starting on mainframes and this book had ideas I... Read morePublished on March 26 2004 by K. Kernan
Basecamp, a web-based project management tool, is one of the most elegant, affordable, and easy-to-use pieces of software I've encountered on or off the web. Read morePublished on March 26 2004 by since1968
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