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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous diagram representing relationship between elements
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...
Published on Nov. 20 2009 by Marc Poulin

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars nice starter for newbie but not much depth...
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...
Published on March 26 2003 by Uday N. Gajendar


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous diagram representing relationship between elements, Nov. 20 2009
By 
Marc Poulin (Montreal, Quebec) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book; Misleading Title, Aug. 19 2003
By 
Gunnar Swanson (Ventura, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
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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2.0 out of 5 stars nice starter for newbie but not much depth..., March 26 2003
By 
Uday N. Gajendar "udanium235" (Menlo Park, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good for someone who knows nothing of User Experience Design, March 13 2003
By 
"gzahnd" (Santa Cruz, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good for someone who knows nothing of User Experience Design, March 13 2003
By 
"gzahnd" (Santa Cruz, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for your library!, Feb. 8 2003
By 
Dick Miller (Beaverton, OR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
"Ready...Fire...Aim!"
How many times have you been involved in a Web site design effort that seems to fit this approach? Sadly, we all have such experiences in our lives. This delightful little book provides user experience designers a conceptual model for producing Web sites. This allows for a process that is rigorous, logical, and easily communicated.
Jesse James Garrett defines the term "user experience" as "...how (a) product behaves and is used in the real world." He focuses this book on consideration of one particular kind of product: Web sites.
In the Introduction, the author describes this book as
"...not a how-to book, ...not a book about technology, ...(and) 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. If you need the big picture, if you need to understand the context for the decisions that user experience practitioners make, this book is for you."
I agree wholeheartedly. The role that this book can play in developing your skill as a user experience practitioner is analogous to the role of ground school for a fledgling airplane pilot. Before a prospective pilot gets behind the controls, ground school teaches the principles of flight, aircraft systems, and other basics that need to be understood before actually taking off. Similarly, this book provides a way of understanding user experience that helps you make informed decisions as you begin and continue the design of a user experience. Garrett suggests (and I agree) that the two primary audiences for the book are newcomers (such as an executive responsible for assembling a user experience team) and those who are more familiar with user experience design and need to communicate their methods and concerns to others in an understandable way.
In a subsection of the Introduction entitled "The Story Behind the Book," Garrett relates the tale of how the book came to be. It goes back to a three-dimensional diagram he developed in late 1999 and early 2000, that serves as a model for visualizing both the elements of user experience and their interrelationships. Garrett points out that there is a duality to Websites, which he describes in a note accompanying that diagram as follows:
"The Web was originally conceived as a hypertextual information space; but the development of increasingly sophisticated front- and back-end technologies has fostered its use as a remote software interface. This dual nature has led to much confusion, as user experience practitioners have attempted to adapt their terminology to cases beyond the scope of its original application."
Furthermore, the diagram provides a clear and consistent way to use the plethora of terms that have been used (and, in many cases, misused) to refer to aspects of user experience design. He includes such terms as User Needs, Site Objectives, Content Requirements, Functional Specifications, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Information Design, Navigational Design, Interface Design, and Visual Design, shows them in the context of his model, and clarifies their underlying relationships. This diagram, which is available on the Web, was first published in March 2000 and, in the ensuing year, was downloaded more than 20,000 times. Garrett's Web site also includes other information useful to user experience designers.
A more detailed explanation of that diagram and how it can be used to understand the aspects and processes of intelligent user experience design form the core of the book. Garrett begins with a lucid and succinct explanation of what is meant by "user experience" and why it is important. He follows this with an introduction to the diagram and chapters on each of its five planes: Strategy, Scope, Structure, Skeleton, and Surface. He then ties it all together with a chapter that looks at how these understandings can be applied to the actual development of Web sites.
The book is very well written and executed. Diagrams are clear, terminology is used consistently, navigation aids and advance organizers are used to good advantage, and the book design is clean and visually appealing. Garrett's writing style makes approachable a highly complex subject, while still including all the essentials. The book includes a 13-page index, which is quite extensive for a volume of this length. This serves as a useful tool that allows you to dip into the information as needed once you have read it through. This slim volume is just the right length to be read in a single sitting, say, on a business flight.
I wish that this book and the diagram upon which it is based were available when I first attempted the design of user experiences. It could have saved me from false starts, sub-optimal choices, and other hard-won lessons, and would have made it much easier for me to communicate my ideas to my fellow team members and to the managers for whom I worked. "Better late than never" is an adage that applies here. I'm glad it is available now, and I expect to get my money's worth from it.
Get this book. Read it. Understand it. Apply it. You'll be a better user experience designer because of it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A clear and concise map of the user experience world, Dec 28 2002
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
Subtitled 'User-Centred Design for the Web', this new book is designed to give the big picture, addressing ideas rather than techniques. At less than 200 pages and with many graphics, it's a book you can read in an afternoon, but at the same time it manages to cover a remarkable number of ideas.
The most powerful idea in the book is the Garrett's 'elements' referred to in the title, which he defines as five planes or layers of experience - surface, skeleton, structure, scope and strategy. Garrett explains clearly and elegantly how user needs, content requirements, navigation design, visual design and other components fit into this 5-plane scheme.
I can see Garrett's graphics become standard tools for UX professionals needing to explain to clients what they do, why it's important, and how it fits in with what others do.
This is a good book to put into the hands of senior and middle managers who know little about Web development, and specialists in other disciplines - such as graphic designers - who need an appreciation of how all the elements from different professionals slot together.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A User Experience Designer's Delight, Dec 5 2002
By 
Leo Frishberg (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
There is a fundamental question that must be asked about Jesse James Garrett's book: why did he need to write it? Mr. Garrett's well known "User Experience" stacking diagram is already a very clear rendition of the complicated process of designing for a web user's experience, so why did he have to write a book to explain it?
The answer is that vast numbers of people who should know about these processes don't. While JJG's stacking diagram may be familiar to Information Architects and other user experience designers, it is virtually unknown to the other 95% of the organization that is responsible for selling, marketing, building, and/or maintaining web sites.
True to his words, Jesse James Garrett delivers a book that neither explains how to do anything, nor provides answers to technology questions about web sites. In fewer than 200 pages, Mr. Garrett does provide a whirlwind survey of the intricacies of interactive design for the web.
Mr. Garrett begins by promising that the book will take only a few hours to read, and he's pretty close to the mark. As I would have expected, the book's design helps keep his promise. The pages are well laid out with plenty of whitespace and supporting diagrams nicely illustrating his points; his language is clear, concise and direct; his presentation not only supports (and is guided by) the stacking diagram, each point logically follows from the last.
Within a few pages, it is very clear that Mr. Garrett did not write the book for practitioners already familiar with his three dimensional diagram. He is focused instead on those people who are not in the daily struggle of designing appropriate experiences for web site visitors. But that doesn't mean the book can't be used by well-heeled user experience designers. Practitioners will find the book an invaluable aid in their on-going evangelical efforts within their own organizations, or as part of their consultancies, as they explain the processes, methods and vocabulary of user experience design to those unfamiliar with this emerging discipline.
For those individuals, the book provides a clear and straightforward introduction to the very complicated and intertwined issues of designing engaging experiences for the web, whether they are "content" or "application" driven.
I, for one, will be recommending Mr. Garrett's book as a "must read" for everyone in my company.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Semi-distinct components of the user experience, Nov. 5 2002
By 
Charles Ashbacher (Marion, Iowa United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
Garrett is the originator of a new way to describe the elements of the user experience when interacting with web sites. He has split it into five components that are called planes. They are
* The surface plane - the series of web pages, made up of images and text.
* The skeleton plane - the placement of the components of the pages: such as the buttons, textboxes and blocks of text.
* The structure plane - a concrete expression of the abstract structure of the site. Concepts such as the placement of the interface elements as well as the definition as to how users get to the site.
* The scope plane - the definition of how the components interact with each other.
* The strategy plane - the description of the purpose of the site. What do the people running it want to get from it as well as what the users want to accomplish when they use it.
A color diagram of these levels can be found at [...]
This segmentation of the structure of a web site is a sound strategy for the development of quality, effective web sites. It is consistent with the proven methods of software development, where the project is split into generally distinct segments that are more manageable. Each of the levels is thoroughly explained as well as the circumstances where they overlap. I consider it an excellent description of the proper way to develop a site and recommend the book for all who have a site, are planning a new site or are in the process of reorganizing an existing one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Small book, big subject., Oct. 26 2002
This review is from: The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web (Paperback)
Information architecture is a phrase beginning to be bandied about in web design and development circles, but its speakers are often unfamiliar with the meaning of the term. In one case I witnessed it was greeted with giggles and guffaws of incomprehension.
Yet an industry-wide understanding of information architecture is crucial, especially now that the days of corporate web sites as little more than online brochures, or marketing eye candy, are well and truly over. Web sites, if they are to provide real value to their readers and publishers, must fulfil real business functionality. Above all their functions, look and feel must be aimed squarely at satisfying the reader and her needs, at providing the optimum user experience. According to Garrett, planning is the key.
Five Part Plan.
Garrett divides a web site's planning into five parts, from top to bottom - Surface, Skeleton, Structure, Scope and Strategy. Bottom comes first, then you work your way to the top, the design and programming of the site itself. Garrett recommends that all sites are planned using this conceptual framework.
But, how many times have you seen a web site built in reverse - look and feel coming first, perhaps with some concession made to planning the structure and the content to go into it? Practices still vary widely across the industry - Garrett makes an excellent case for adopting a more structured method, supporting it with sound arguments and good examples throughout the book.
An Odd Omission.
I have rated The Elements of User Experience at four stars, not five, due to a surprising omission. It would have made so much sense to have published the diagrams and notes about information architecture located on Jesse James Garrett's [website] as appendices.
Books are made to be read in places you might not want to take computers - the bathroom, the bus, the train, in bed. I found myself wanting to relate Garrett's revelations in the book to the more technical stuff on his website, especially his Visual Vocabulary. I could not do that, unless I also happened to be carrying my stack of dog-eared single-sided web page print-outs - not a pretty sight.
That small complaint aside, The Elements of User Experience should be bought and read by everyone involved in a web site's conception through to birth - client, creative lead and chief programmer at the very least. It shows why someone must take responsibility for the project's architecture, even if that person does not go under the title of Information Architect. The time when the title is in common use, no longer laughed at, is when the Web will really begin fulfilling its potential.
From small beginnings good things grow.
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The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web by Jesse James Garrett (Paperback - Oct. 21 2002)
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