4.0 out of 5 stars A great resource.
This one takes a bit of slogging through, but it's got great advice and the best thing about it is the illustrated examples. Lets you really see exactly what the author is talking about. It's not a Steve Krug book...I get the feeling if I met the author I might not like him much, but he definitely knows exactly what he's talking about. Not a light read, but absolutely...
Published 26 days ago by Zyna Taylor
2.0 out of 5 stars Bitterly disappointing and over-commercialized
In the past Jakob Nielsen has written intelligent and cutting-edge commentary on the state of online usability. When it comes to software and web usability he has only a handful of equals. This book is a huge let-down following his excellent book, "Designing Web Usability" - that is a must read. Anything worth learning in "Homepage Usability" is...
Published on Dec 16 2001 by Jeffrey Eisenberg
Most Helpful First | Newest First
4.0 out of 5 stars A great resource.,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)This one takes a bit of slogging through, but it's got great advice and the best thing about it is the illustrated examples. Lets you really see exactly what the author is talking about. It's not a Steve Krug book...I get the feeling if I met the author I might not like him much, but he definitely knows exactly what he's talking about. Not a light read, but absolutely worth the time.
2.0 out of 5 stars Bitterly disappointing and over-commercialized,
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)In the past Jakob Nielsen has written intelligent and cutting-edge commentary on the state of online usability. When it comes to software and web usability he has only a handful of equals. This book is a huge let-down following his excellent book, "Designing Web Usability" - that is a must read. Anything worth learning in "Homepage Usability" is already in "Designing Web Usability."
Jakob Nielsen goes well beyond usability here. He now either believes he is qualified to give sales, marketing, copywriting and advertising advice or, as the hefty price-tag for this book indicates, he may have just sold out. The latter may be truer. Evidence for this is how he recently sent out his widely-read newsletter with advertising suggestions for Google.com without disclosing the nature of his financial relationship to the company.
Deconstructing homepages is only a somewhat useful exercise anyway. Most user actions take place deeper within the site. The goal of the homepage is not just usability, but to persuade the visitor to click beyond. Nielsen misses this completely when he offers advice suggesting that navigational elements never be repeated. Does he believe every user studiously examines every navigational element before deciding what to do next?
Here are another couple of examples of how poorly thought-out, inconsistent and inaccurate his advice is:
+ Internal Search Engines - Advising that every homepage must have a search engine input box contradicts research that shows how inefficient search queries are for most users and how it compromises conversion
+ Copywriting - Dogmatically proclaiming that exclamation points don't belong on homepages is arrogance running headlong into ignorance. Good copywring is sensitive to context.
There are dozens of other examples as curious as these. It's possible to glean good usability advice from this book. However, how will the average reader separate the wheat from the chaff?
This is an attractively packaged - but not user-friendly - coffee table book. I'll be using it to stabilize the uneven leg of my coffee table.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Skim this book rather than buying it,
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)As a software designer, I keep pretty close tabs on the current thinking about usability. And while Nielsen's periodic AlertBox column is excellent, this book seemed more like something you simply flip through rather than use as a solid desk reference on Web site and homepage design.
Several times as I read through the book, I thought to myself that he really sold himself short. Lists are so long as to be utterly unusable, and the "mistakes" he highlights are too repetitive, and often ambiguous. This is hardly the kind of empirical-evidence-based advice I was hoping for; in the end, it seemed like he just jotted down notes as he went along and found someone to publish it. And while the look and feel of the book itself is excellent, the content is poorly thought out. Maybe he just needs a better editor (after all, I found many typos, something that's hard to stomach when he is so critical of similar mistakes). Finally, some of the advice he offers merely serves to demonstrate his lack of business experience and basic branding and marketing, which is both ironic and embarrassing.
I'll admit that his task isn't an easy one, as he faces a central dilemma: he either must point out every little problem, or risk coming under fire for missing something. Unfortunately, I think he erred on the side of "too much trivia" at the expense of his readers. The book was fun to look through, and it gave me several important insights into homepage design, but I can' t imagine that I will ever refer to it. If you want excellent insight into web page and homepage usability, I would stick with the Alertbox.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 50 Web Site Deconstructed,
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)According to this book, users spend most of their time on other sites than your site... When a user visits your site, he/she will be bringing a large load of mental baggage accumulated from prior visits to thousands of other home pages. So by the time they reach your web site, users have accumulate a generic mental model of the way a homepages are supposed to work, based on their experience on these other sites.
It is a very interesting point. According to authors of the book, there are few large web sites that might count themselves among the first 10 to 20 sites visited by new users. And design of these web sites dictate the design conventions that a user will expect when he/she visits other web sites.
Example of some of these conventions mentioned in the book are:
upper-left corner is the best place for a site logo
The book also "deconstructs" those 50 chosen Home Pages, and provides annotated analysis. You may find it interesting. Among those are such sites as About.com, Accenture.com, Yahoo.com, BBC Online, CNET, Disney, eBay, Microsoft, IBM and many more.
Although majority of the book is on annotating home pages, authors also give some generic tips on home page design. Some of those tips I recall are:
liquid page layout is preferred over fixed sized tables
In other words, do not start your titles with "The" and "Welcome", because in person's favorites lists, it would be misplaced in the alphabetical order.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone venturing in Web Designs.
P.S. Although the book is on Home Page usability, the book itself doesn't seem "usable" at all. Size of the book is so clumsy that doesn't fit in a standard sized book shelf.
3.0 out of 5 stars 25 websites would of been enough.,
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)The tips at the beginning were great. But 50 homepages, was definitely overkill. The oversized format suits ths subject matter. Overall good book, but would of been nice to have more information instead of 50 homepages criticized. I would of been happier with 25 pages, the same guidelines at the beginning and perhaps 25 pages of research data.
5.0 out of 5 stars Colorful and brilliant!,
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)This book do exactly what it states - deconstruct 50 of the best websites HOMEPAGES. It does not go into detail about the inner pages or usability errors other then those which appear at the first page.
Jakob explanations are clear, written well and to-the-point, and the way the book is presented is admirable.
Get this book for the ability to point and fix any usability issue on any homepage you will ever visit/build.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book - EXCELLENT!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)This book is a definite MUST HAVE for any website designer, newbie to web design and anyone and everyone who has an online business. Simple, easy to understand visuals compliment the text, which is written in a very simplistic manner. This book is wonderful - magnificent - excellent, and will help you greatly understand the elements of successful web design. I've used it to consistently update my own website, at:
If you don't have this book, you're missing out on your single-most-important investment in your professional life!
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT EXAMPLES!,
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)For you who wants to find FACTS and not only theories about usability, this is great!
4.0 out of 5 stars Usability Jihad!,
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)Nielsen, the usability guru (extremist?) and Tahir goes on a crusade against well-known sites, attacking the weak points in terms of usability of each site (they call it "deconstructing").
In spite of the somewhat extreme view of homepage design (what did you expect from Nielsen?), this book is very useful to get a purely-usability viewpoint.
The first part of the book gives statistical data on the placement of various components of a homepage, such as the logo, search, etc. This is important in usability since users will spend more time on other sites than on yours. The data gives a good guideline on the basic page structure of a usable web page.
The other part of the book is the part that "deconstructs" the homepages of the 50 sites. This part is well-illustrated, with first a clean screenshot of the page followed by one with the weaknesses pointed out. This part is an excellent way to learn usability inductively; the 50 case studies are ample for one to practice her usability critiquing skills, which would be useful to use on one's own site.
This book is focused on usability -- not entirely helpful if you are trying to design a pretty site. Also, don't try too hard to satisfy all of Jakob's usability requirements, or your site might end up looking like useit.com.
This book belongs to the bookshelf of every web designer.
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe more webmasters should read his books.,
This review is from: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (Paperback)In his first book, "Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity", published two years earlier (December 1999), Jakob Nielsen presented a comprehensive stylebook for presenting web pages. Although a tough read for one sitting, it was one of the few books that presented an overall methodology to an organization's web presence. Since that book presented a lot of information most of which I believe was passed over in search of techniques that directly related to the reader; he stated in his first book that he would follow up with a more illustrative volume.
This book narrows the field down somewhat by only concentrating on homepages. The first part of the book consists of a chapter on "Homepage Guidelines" which encompasses the first 52 pages. The following 250 pages or so show screen shots of various homepages from large organizations. Some examples are Citigroup, ExxonMobil, FedEX, General Motors, and Microsoft. There is some satisfaction however in seeing some large company with a richly funded web program stumble or just plain get it wrong. It makes my mistakes a little more tolerable.
The first page of a typical "deconstruct" is a screen shot of the company's homepage. This is followed by a description of the company, a short critique, a color map of the page showing areas devoted to content of interest, self promotion, advertising, navigation, filler, browser controls etc. A breakdown of the actual percentages is illustrated with a pie chart. The third page shows the homepage with numbers representing each of the points (mostly mistakes) that the author is trying to highlight. Yes, as other reviewers stated some of the mistakes he points out can be a bit repetitive, such as logo placements, taglines, and redundant navigations buttons, in general he (along with Marie Tahir) he gives you specific examples with which you can learn from.
Both his books have helped me, if only in thinking of web pages as one avenue of communication. Is your webpage communicating to others in a straightforward, consistent matter in the least amount of time as possible? Two main themes do shine through in both his books; make the file size small and the presentation clear so that users have to spend the minimum amount of time navigating your site, and don't over sell your links. Once users click to a link and it is not what they expected they just might not come back to your site in the future.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed by Marie Tahir (Paperback - Nov 5 2001)
CDN$ 53.00 CDN$ 33.39