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on September 23, 2002
I admit it; I'm a sucker for web design books. Whenever a book comes out on the subject, I tend to rush to buy it, hoping it can show me how to improve my craft, and make the designs I create better and more effective. Most of the time I'm disappointed because the book is simply a paean to whatever the latest and 'greatest' is in the world of hip and hot design.
I don't want to know how to make what's hip and hot...I can figure that out for myself. What I want is to see how I can implement proven strategies that help users (my users) get things done as they use the product. And that's the true strength of this book; it's what it's all about. With almost 100 'patterns' of website design, this book breaks it down in simple, easy-to-get terms, that I, a technical usability specialist can understand and then turn around and reproduce. It's almost like a cookbook, in the sense that the book shows me:
1) What the patterns is, how it's used in the real world, and different flavors of it
2) Why the pattern is good, how it's been successful, and in some cases how it's been refined.
3) How the pattern works, what are it's components, and what does it need to be successful
4) And finally, what other patterns it's like, and how by incorporating parts of other patterns, I can strengthen my users' experience.
I want this...I don't have time to be reinventing the wheel every time my employer or a client wants a site. I need to be able to pick up a reference book and see exactly what a 'community' site (or one of a hundred other types of sites) is like, so I have a good starting place to work from as I delve into what the project sponsor wants. This book helps me by already doing the leg-work of research into best practices, common features, and pitfalls. By giving me that already, I don't have to spend time doing figuring that stuff already out, and rather can spend time doing what's important...listening to my client, employer, and user base to figure out how to meet their specific needs, and make them all happy.
That's easily worth the price of admission.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 24, 2002
Nearly every book on user interface and site design I've read is aimed at the professional designer who understands the nuances of color, fonts and graphics elements, as well as aesthetics in general. Many of the subtle points are lost on the non professional.
The book begins with a short chapter on the foundations of good design, which provides principles, dispels myths, and stays focused on customer-centric goals. The heart of the book is Part II, which consists of 12 different design patterns based on real life examples. It leads you through each example, showing you how a particular design or design concept works and why. This is akin to the Rosetta Stone for the non-professional designer because the authors do not assume any talent of skills in design, and subtle points are highlighted and clearly explained. Because of this approach I finally understood concepts that had eluded me in the past. In addition to the clear explanations that distill design into patterns, the book is lavishly illustrated, using copious full color examples and a structured format that gives the background, frames the problem and provides a solution to each of the 12 design goals.
Material in the appendices is also invaluable, including advice on running usability evaluation, and associated plan outlines and forms. For a development group this is an extra bonus that will make it easier to incorporate the principles in this book into a quality process that gives customer-focused usability the same weight as technical quality criteria.

I'm so enthusiastic about this book that I've recommended to the company for which I work that a copy of this book be provided to each of our developers who are programming wizards, but who stumble when it comes to the user interface.
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on August 4, 2003
This book is my primary source of designing many websites. As web content management consultant, it is my job to design and also build a web site. The patterns and principles described here are well suited to many cases, big or small scale.
Althought the primary concern of this book is about patterns and principles, several parts at the beginning chapters are devoting to understand "customer-centered" web design and how to perform such processes. The customer-centered design principle, at the first time I read this book, opened my whole new outlook about designing a 'good' website.
I am waiting for the 2th edition, since, you know several websites referenced in this book are now going out of business (for example [website]), and several look and feel described by figures reference is now beginning out of date. Ignoring those, this book is a must-have arsenal for a web content management consultant, web designer, web developer, even a manager.
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on January 30, 2003
Your Boss keeps telling you to follow best practices of the web, but you've looked around and can't find any. There is no set formual you say? Well there are Design Patterns that can be applied to (and custom tailored for) appropriate situations. The beauty is that these guys already documented it for you!
This is not a book to be read straight through though, instead pick up various sections at random or by tabular index as is appropriate to your given design needs at the time.
This book and Wodtke's "Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web" make up the cream of the 2003 crop when it comes to Information Architecture & Design (wake up calls). You'll read things here that you've thought of before, but never been able to articulate a litle everyday and you'll have an arsenal of good comebacks for that clueless 'business strategist' who keeps challenging your sense of good design.
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on January 15, 2003
Unlike many books on usability or on web or interactive design, "The Design of Sites" covers both aspects in equal depth. It is well research, with hundreds of examples, and it is written in concise language with oodles of cross-references to other sections. The book is very attractively designed, and works well from start to finish or with random soundings. Above all, it is comprehensive in addressing all design problems, yet brief and to the point on the many "patterns" (which could just as well be called "topics") it covers.
Perhaps not the first book a new web designer should read, but a good candidate for the second one -- it is certainly of great interest to anyone who has begun to grapple with the many design challenges of web development.
Highly recommended.
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on February 14, 2004
I bought this book so it would provide me with domain-specific pieces of usability knowledge, but it failed at that. Althought there are concrete examples, there's nothing learn from them, as the explanations are so general they almost seem canned. It just takes basic usability concepts and applies them to popular domains, without going into any depth. And you don't need another book for that. The writing style often feels like a desperate attempt to beef up the volume. This isn't a useless book for an absolute beginner, but Steve Krug's "Don't Make Think" is several times thinner, and will teach you just as much, if not more.
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on January 6, 2003
I read 80% of this book first day. Then you have to
go back couple of times. The book is organized in a interesting
way, so it was kind of interactive experience :).
Authors have lot of examples. Two of the authors are from academia with some industry experince. So you get best of both worlds.
It's not entirely "practical" or "theoretical".
You get a introduction to "patterns 101" using web design practices as example.
Don't let the "title" of book fool, it covers very interesting/important topic
that most non-computer science/engineer get never exposed to.
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on August 3, 2003
I bought this book thinking it would actually help me build a website. Their examples consist of amazon, yahoo, and a couple of other multi-million dollar sites and the advice they give is so simplistic it is obvious. Worst of all, the group that wrote the book sent me emails after i registered on their website and started calling me to buy software from their software company. do NOT buy this book.. there have to be better ones. . it's a big fat blue colorful book of fluff, designed to help them sell software apparently. i wish i could get my money back from
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on February 3, 2005
Full of practical design guidelines, this book will help me and my customers to focus on the right site features and to build them right. As stated by the authors, this book is "opened". So I decided to contribute by suggesting a new online text editor pattern and an improvement to the grid pattern by displaying contextual content over the HTML page using an invisible-visible DIV tag. I hope a second version of this book will be published soon with all the comments and new patterns sent to the authors.
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on December 30, 2002
This must-have book defines a collection of patterns for effective Web site design. Like Christopher Alexander's seminal work on patterns in architecture, the patterns range from very broad to very focused, taking you from the initial notion of what type of site you need to specific details about navigation, branding, etc. It's scope and refinement makes it much more compelling than most of the patterns work that has been done elsewhere in software. I can't imagine designing a new site without it. Thank you!
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