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The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web Paperback – Oct 21 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press; 1 edition (Oct. 21 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735712026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735712027
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #544,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Author

I really love the web. I really hate bad web sites. One day I was sitting on the back patio of Carbon IQ with Jeff Veen, and mentioned both of these sentiments. I said, "Dang it, if people would just slow down and do a few blueprints before they made web sites, they'd all improve 200%. I mean, it doesn't take that much -- you just talk to some users, do a couple card sorts, and blooie! a better web site." And he said, "You should write a book." Well, it's a year later, and I have written a book. My brain is now sitting in your hands, between these covers. I still spend a lot of time online -- so far I found a career, a husband, a car, a publisher, and many tickets to exotic locales all online. I love the web -- it has the power to change people's lives. I still hate bad web sites though, and now I'd like to encourage you to read this book and go make some good ones. Please. I'll swing by when you're done.

From the Back Cover

Smart organizations recognize that Web design is more than just creating clean code and sharp graphics. Building a site that really works means making sure it fulfills your strategic objectives while meeting the needs of your users. Having the best content and the most sophisticated technology won't help you balance those goals if you don't integrate them within a coherent, consistent user experience.

But creating the user experience can seem overwhelmingly complex. With so many issues to deal with usability, brand identity, information architecture, interaction design it can seem that the only way to build a successful site is to spend a fortune on specialists who understand all the details.

The Elements of User Experience cuts through the complexity of user-centered design for the Web, breaking it down with clear explanations and vivid illustrations that focus on ideas rather than tools or techniques. Jesse James Garrett gives readers the big picture of Web user experience development, from strategy and requirements to information architecture and visual design. This accessible introduction demystifies the field, putting key concepts in context so that any web development team, large or small, can create a successful user experience.

Thousands of web developers around the world have used Jesse James Garrett's ideas to build sites that work more effectively. Instead of a cookie-cutter process or a list of rules to follow, The Elements of User Experience provides the strategic foundation for solving the problems unique to your business and your users.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marc Poulin on Nov. 20 2009
Format: Paperback
I got a EUREKA moment when I first saw the Jesse James Garrett's diagram "Elements of User Experience". I had been trying for years to put in a diagram the various elements of web site design that start with web objectives and finish as the completed web site. Just for that, I had to thank the author by buying his book. The book is both great and average.

I will start with the average part. The book is a little boring. Thankfully, it is short (174 pages). It is made up mostly of flowing text without the use of bulleted lists or boxes of text to draw attention to important stuff. He writes about elements of user experience but gives very few examples. Those not familiar with the subject will find it too theoretical. The web professionals will find the content of limited value.

What is great about the book is how it organizes the elements using a two dimension structure. The first dimension is from abstract (strategy) to concrete (visual). The other dimension is that some elements relate to information and others to tasks.
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Like many negative Amazon reviews, some detractors of this book seem to object to the fact that it is this book and not something else. In this case they may not be entirely unfair. If you are looking for advanced techniques in web design you won't find them in Garrett's book. If, however, you are looking for a good framework for thinking about design strategy--for your own thinking, for explaining things to clients, or for students--you will find this book indispensable. It is short, sweet, and straightforward. Whether that's good news of bad is something each reader will need to decide.
Some complain that The Elements of User Experience does not go deeply enough into a range of user experience issues. This may partially be the fault of the author and the publisher. The value of this book goes well beyond web projects and the "user experience" world. Much of it applies to a variety of design projects. If I were to make a major objection to the book it is not that it is too shallow but that it is conceived of as too narrow.
Much of the audience that would find this book to be an important breakthrough would never pick up a book that crams the word "User" into the title twice then gets in two buzz words and says "Web." I don't think this is one of the most important books about user experience or user-centered design. It is, however, a great basic book on design strategy. I hope disappointed people rating it poorly for not being the book they hoped for will not detract from this book finding the wider audience it richly deserves.
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First off, the author is reportedly disdainful of "design education" (ie, scholarly programs that foster legitimate inquiry and exploration of critical issues in user experience) so it's no surprise that this book, mildly sufficient for beginners puzzled as to how to even start a web project, lacks the necessary conceptual foundations of design thinking for examining complex, application oriented, "beyond the web" design problems: interpretations, perspectives, etc. to enable a designer/IA to step "beyond" the immediate problem and extrapolate principles and patterns. Fundamental issues of cognition, social interaction, drama, emotion, etc. are not even hinted. Also, the core diagram, while visually interesting, has many gaps and simplifications. The fact is, the areas of interaction design and information architecture are quite dynamic in practice (and theory) to be declared with such an "easy" diagram. And the false dichotomies between UI, IA, ID, etc. reveal a unhealthy temptation to simplify and codify, leading to false perceptions by newbies about design practice.
So, while the book offers the rudimentary basics of web projects (which are quite useful), the array of techniques and over-simplification of process/forethought can be a disservice for someone truly trying to understand "user experience" elements. Instead, I'd highly recommend Clement Mok's "Designing Business", Veen's "Art and Science of Web Design" (especially the last chapter), HIllman Curtis' "Making the Invisible Visible", and Shedroff's "Experience Design" (though it is hard to "read" his book :-)
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Format: Paperback
There was not much in this book that I didn't glean from Jesse's one page PDF back in 2000. If you're a professional designer that is curious about this book, just check out the PDF. It's free, quick, and concise.
On the other hand, if you're someone that is new to UE, or maybe a designer struggling to get some core concepts across to a clueless team, client, or boss, then this book might nail what you're looking for. It's well-written, physically small, and not intimidating at all.
Jesse said it best in the intro: "This is not a book of answers. Instead, this book is about asking the right questions... This book will tell you what you need to know before you go read those other books."
This book provides no insight into techniques or methodologies for user experience design. It only brings to light that those techniques and methodologies exist.
Summary: Jesse, you wrote a good book. I just didn't pull much else from it past your excellent, excellent PDF a few years ago. Cheers.
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