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Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better Paperback – Jul 3 2012

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From the Back Cover

I stopped reading because I was tempted to steal stuff for my next book!"
Steve Krug, author of Don't Make Me Think

If you're serious about creating great user experiences, this is a must-read book! Eric's insights on usability are reinforced with delightful examples and are presented with a business-smart perspective that few others can match."
Richard Dalton, Senior Manager, Experience Strategy & Measurement, The Vanguard Group

"I just want it to work!"

That's what "usability" means to the user. It's about whether a product or service does what the user wants—and expects—it to do. And that's what makes people want—or not want—what you have to sell. This book is packed with suggestions, steps, and guidelines to help you create products and services that do what users want. Many of them are unbelievably simple. They just work.

How to create usable stuff

  • Have clear goals for what you want to accomplish
  • Use the checklists in each chapter to help you spot potential problems
  • Learn what makes users happy—or not happy
  • Discover three keys to responsiveness
  • Put logical reasoning to work for you
  • Improve profitability by improving usability

About the Author

Eric Reiss has been meddling with service- and product-design projects for longer than he cares to remember. Today, he is CEO of The FatDUX Group, an international user-experience design company headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. Eric has also lectured on design principles at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, is a former Professor of Usability and Design at the IE Business School in Madrid, and serves on the advisory boards of several universities and institutes in both Europe and the United States. His Web Dogma, a design philosophy that transcends both fashion and technology, has been adopted by thousands of developers and companies around the world. You can follow Eric Reiss on Twitter: @elreiss

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 39 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Essential reading for product development teams July 5 2012
By Steve Proctor - Published on
Format: Paperback
We're past the stage of users putting up with the flashing "12:00" on a VCR, impossible to program recording times, and cryptic computer operating systems. But as users expect easier and easier to use interfaces, new problems arise: how do designers know what users have become habituated to? How to introduce a new feature? How to simplify (make easier) a currently accepted user interface?

These questions aren't ones that can be settled without significant thought, group activity, and research. They require a new set of skills and understanding. It's no longer just about the features -- because an easy-to-use interface is itself a necessary feature.

And because customer feedback has become so rapid -- a series of negative Amazon reviews can wreck a product's sales -- it is so important to be able to predict what users want, before they run into problems that turn them off from a product forever. (Word of mouth becomes more and more powerful every year, with wider range and greater longevity -- reviews, social media, and blogs all have lasting influence.)

So project groups need to be equipped to properly create and design new products according to the new user interface expectations. (In this way this book is a great companion to The Practice of Creativity: A Manual for Dynamic Group Problem-Solving.)

Here's a rundown of the book's two-part format:

Part I: Ease of Use
-Functionality: Does it do what it says on the tin?
-Responsiveness: Does the website give you feedback when you interact with it?
-Ergonomics: Are the controls easy to access -- eg. big buttons.
-Convenience: Is related information available at the same time, if you need it to be?
-Foolproof: Is it easy to break, or can an idiot muddle their way through easily?

Part II: Clarity
-Visibility: Is all the important stuff easy to see?
-Understandability: Does a user know what will probably happen before starting a particular interaction?
-Logicalness: Does it do what it "should" do -- that is, what all the other similar products have trained the user to think will happen following a particular interaction?
-Consistency: Does a particular interaction always produce the same result? Is a particular result always reached by the same interaction?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Simple, But Good July 29 2012
By Chris Reich - Published on
Format: Paperback
First I want to address the 1 star review. The PRICE of a book has nothing to do with the quality and value of the content. Yes, the kibble price could be lower but the goal with E-books isn't to save the world, it's to make money. They are succeeding with that.

On to the book itself.

I like it. While there is nothing really life-changing between the covers, it's certainly worth a read and a browse. The book is more of a reminder than an innovator---locate the restroom signs opposite the elevator rather than along side so people can see the sign when they step off---makes sense. If you are new to this sort of thinking, you'll love the book. There are a lot of pictures. But if you are well read on the usability subject, well, you might find this a little light.

I want to see usability studies for seniors. Every watch a senior at an airport? There is a whole area of overlooked usability opportunity: senior travel.

I liked the book enough to get an extra to give away. If I don't like a book, I won't give it away. So get this and enjoy it.

BTW, a huge plus is the international flavor of the book. We need to consider cultural differences and this book addresses that topic nicely.

Go for it.

Chris Reich

I did not buy the book from Amazon.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A must-have tool for UX professionals and students April 6 2013
By Raffaella Roviglioni - Published on
Format: Paperback
I adored this book from the very beginning. The table of contents already conveys a clear message: that usability is a complex matter but in order to understand it and evaluate it you can break it into a number of simpler parameters.
With this approach Eric Reiss managed to clearly explain the subject even to those who are not in the field (yet).

Every chapter is well illustrated with real-life everyday examples, easy to understand and to interiorise.
For those like me who are curious and would like to examine in depth any of the mentioned parameters there's a list of suggested bibliography and resources at the end of each chapter. Brilliant.

I couldn't think of a better title for this book: indeed is one of the most usable books on usability I've ever read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Usability: An hour a day - Hot Stuff Dec 13 2012
By Klaus Bjerager - Published on
Format: Paperback
Usable Usability is yet another book on a topic already covered by the best, but Eric Reiss can walk away from the project with a victors smile.
He not only succeeds to inform but also to renew: Each of the 10 chapters ends with a list of 10 central issues that the reader is offered to consider.
The lists serve as ammunition for a do-it-yourself 'Guerilla-style usability' method ER introduces in chapter 11.
A method not unlike Avinash Kaushik's 'Web Analytics An Hour A Day'. Great way to creaty value through usability.

Another 'new' is the 'Stuff to Google' box at the end of each chapter.

ER writes in an informal way suggestive of having a dialogue with the reader, professional yet with homour.
He allows us to pick his brain by listing books for further reading - topical, but not re usability, but associative to issues re usability. Great too.

So who is this book targeted to? UX folks in the know, may be tempted to pass it off, but DO get your hands (and eyes) on this book and give to your clients.
It will raise the level of the conversation about usability and make it so much easier to address usability issues as value creating issues.

This is usability: an hour a day. Don't miss out on it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
POET for the Internet Age Dec 1 2012
By Steve Berczuk - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book reminds me of Donald Norman's Psychology of Everyday Things (newer editions being called Design of Everyday Things). Reiss discusses usability both in the virtual world and the real world, which is useful both because the principles of good web design are not that different from good design of physical objects and also because there are many cases of things people do that span the two (for example, shopping at a store which also has a web site). This is a very readable, entertaining, book which weaves stories of his experiences with both bad and good usability, with actionable advice to help you understand both general principles of usability and specific guideline to employ when designing interfaces. The humorous stories of the effects of poor design will help you to remember what not to do, and the simplicity of the examples of good design will inspire you to aim higher in your projects.

This book is especially worth a read if you are building software applications or services that have both a software and concrete component.