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5.0 out of 5 stars What the WWW needed was a stylebook - Nielsen delivers
This book is primarily a stylebook. The web is often mistaken for an electronic book and this is probably one of the reasons it has taken a while to find a guide aimed at web usability. Jakob Nielsen does a great job in creating a style manual for a medium, which has different aims and limitations from printed material. What made Tim Berners-Lee¡s innovation...
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by Marcus Abundus

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3.0 out of 5 stars Lesson Learned; Lesson Forgotten
This book did not resonate with me. Perhaps it is because I recently completed reading a great book on web design, "The Design of Sites."
It is not that the book is without merit. There are nuggets of wisdom buried in every chapter. Jakob Nielsen is an acknowledged web design expert. This book summarizes much of his thinking. Simplicity and usability should rule...
Published on Sept. 24 2003 by Craig L. Howe


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3.0 out of 5 stars You got to agree Nielsen is (mostly) right., July 1 2002
By 
Alberto G. M (Miami, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
What many Nielsen detractors tend to mistake is that he isn't directing his guns against experimental, "artsy" websites, but rather against websites that are supposed to offer a service of value to their customers (we're talking for-profit sites here, which resumes most of the sites we developers are paid for anyway) and end up confusing them into a mishmash of confusing navigation and disorganized structures. Being a designer, I love the experimental design scene, but that is something I don't want to see when I am trying to access my deposit info at the online bank. Simplicity and at-the-second understandability in order to get to the site's goals is what this book is all about. Some pointers, like Nielsen's suggestions for SunWeb icons, are pretty lame and corny, as well as some of his suggestions to indicate user placement (a sweeping broom?) but that doesn't mean you have to take all that Nielsen says as "the" way to do things. Most of the book suggestions, though, make perfect sense, and will continue to do so for years to come. It can be pretty, but is it useful? Sites can be pretty AND useful, the challenge is to know where to establish the balance, and this book can be a great helper on this respect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book about web usability on the market, Jan. 16 2002
By 
Timo Pantsari (Helsinki, Finland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
This book is clearly one of those must-have items on your bookshelf if you are a professional web designer. Acctually this book is so good that you don't even have to do web design. If you simply design GUI's (Graphical User Interfaces) this book is for you.
Nielsen isn't one of those people who plays around with consultancy terms, but he rather puts his ideas accross in plain english which is very, very imporant especially if english is not your mother tongue (in my case for example).
Besides the text, the book is colorful and it has a lot of detailed pictures, which in most cases are also broken down to sections later on. And in this case it's true that a picture tells more than a thousand words.
The sections and the flow of thigs are also quite well laid out, so it's easy to progress from one step to the next. Nielsen also goes and tells about Intranet design (one whole chapter) besides the regular corporate and informational sites design.
When I had read the book, I showed it to a work partner of mine and he got his whole team excited about it. Now all of them have their own copy of the book even though we have a very easy to use virtual library system in our company. Yup, you just got to have it in YOUR bookshelf, not your neighbours.
I don't normally write rave reviews on books, but this is a genuine treasure and I really recommend you to take a closer look at it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile title for new or experienced web designers, Dec 29 2001
By 
W.D. Peckenpaugh (Silverton, OR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
Yeah, Nielsen is controversial, and reading past reviews of this book will demonstrate just how much animosity there can be between the "engineer" and "artist" crowds.
Experienced web designers won't find much new ground broken here (they probably already read Nielsen's online articles), but it's still useful to have the collected opinions of a widely-recognized authority on usability all in one book. New designers should appreciate the fact that they can learn to avoid a lot of mistakes the "experienced" people discovered the hard way. Nielsen stresses simplicity and elegance of design, and that's something everyone needs to be reminded of (how many times have you hit the "Back" button when you found a page full of animated images and banner ads?).
Agree with his delivery or not, a lot of what he's predicted has come true over the years (think about it: why would corporations pay the amount they do for his consultations if they didn't get results?). Personally, I like his somewhat sarcastic style; it's a nice break from the often-smarmy "X for Idiots" paradigm. If you don't mind some egotism now and then, and you're looking for a design/usability reference (as opposed to an HTML how-to, which this definitely is not), then I highly recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of Web Design, Dec 6 2001
By 
D. Keating (Bristow, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
Jakob Nielsen is definitely one of the top web gurus around today. This book consolidates a lot of his ideas about web design in one resource. Although I do not agree with every single rule or bit of advice that Dr. Nielsen gives in the book, overall I agree with his overall theme of simplicity. His main argument is that a web site can only be effective if the user can accomplish their purpose in visiting the web site quickly and efficiently. It doesn't matter if the user is looking up some obscure resources at the Library of Congress site, or buying CDs at Amazon.com. Both "customers" want the same thing- quality service from the site. Quality means a lot of things to different people. But at a minium, a site needs to be fast, easy to navigate, and meet the users needs. The bottom line is that every user is just a click away from leaving.
A few sections of the book that are particularly useful are the ones about writing for the web, designing for an international audience, and establishing design standards. I also like the fact that the book is full of examples from real web sites, showing the strengths and weaknesses of each.
The two things I do not think are that great about the book are the price, and the reduncancy of material. Simply put, it is overpriced, and the author rehashes many concepts throughout the book. Having said that, I would still recommend this book to anyone who is heavily involved with web design. You should be familiar with the concepts. If nothing else, this book will generate some ideas on how to make your website more effective.
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1.0 out of 5 stars IRONIC - this book is not very usable at all, Oct. 2 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
If this was not a book about usabilty, and just web design, I would not have to give this low of a score to it. Being that Jakob Nielsen is a "web usability expert" I would expect the principles to follow over into print. Not the case.
This book has small sidebars on just about everypage. The sidebars sometimes discuss topics which were on a previous page or, worse yet, a topic which has not been addressed in the main body text yet.
Through out the entire volume I found myself reading a paragraph of text, having to stop in the middle of a sentence to read the sidebars before flipping the page, then returning to the middle of the sentence and forgetting what the paragraph was actually about, then I would have to turn back a page.
There is never a reference in the text as to when I should read the side bar. And it is clearly not evident in the main body.
It looks as if the sidebars were an after thought by the publisher so that his book didn't look as plain as his website.
Add to this problem, the poorly captioned images and you have the most un-usable book I have ever read. And that is Ironic since it is a book about Usability.
That being said, the book does have some valid info but it is absolutely not worth the effort.
If you need to read about web usabilty, try "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug. He has great information and an excellent writing style. If you still feel you need Mr. Nielsen's insight, then stick to his website alertbox.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Outstanding, Sept. 29 2001
By 
L. Richards "lrichmtg" (Olathe, KS United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
I never thought I'd be so impressed by a book that I'd actually write a review here. However, this, by far, is the most incredible book about the science of Web usability I've ever seen.
I almost feel sorry for the those who use the sites created by those who rated this book poorly.
In their defense, sure, if scanning the book, a lot of what Nielsen says can be interpreted as "common sense." Unfortunately, it's obvious by looking at the images in the book, coupled with Nielsen's explanations, that many websites don't use this "common sense" approach in their site development.
Personally, prior to reading the book, I didn't agree with Nielsen's "10 Laws" - to me, they seemed outdated and didn't take into account new media. Thankfully I purchased the book anyway.
This book covers the gamut from navigational development to writing for the web. It is an outstanding foundation for those InfoMapping for the Web.
I can only hope that Nielsen writes a book specifically for Intranet development in the future. I'm going to push that Designing for Web Usability become a standard for our department, and I suggest it as a 'must-have' for all web designers and content developers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Myriad Dimensions of "Usability", Aug. 3 2001
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
An abundance of market research data indicates that convenience (or ease of doing business) is ranked either first or second among attributes by which customers measure their satisfaction with a seller of goods and/or services. This is especially true of visitors to Web sites. As Nielsen brilliant explains and then convincingly demonstrates, "web usability" is another application of the KISS Principle. He has written two books which "attack the problem of usable web design from two angles. This first one is about the 'what' of good websites, and the second is about the 'how.'...This book explains what is known about the properties of easy-to-use websites. Short preview: Relish simplicity, and focus on the users' goals rather than glitzy design." He guides his reader through various phase of web design (page design, content design, and the design of the overall architecture) and then shifts the reader's attention to "special issues" such as intranets, users with disabilities, and international users. Nielsen concludes his book with a "view toward the future of the Internet and new developments on the Web."
Who will derive the greatest value from reading this book? My hunch (only a hunch) is the owner/CEO of a small-to-midsize company which has not as yet launched a Web site, or, which has done so and the Web site has not achieved its objectives thus far. Whether designing a Web site or a residence, the same basic question must first be answered: Why? More specifically, how will it be used? By whom? To serve which specific purposes? To accomplish what? And at what cost? Nielsen observes, "usability rules the Web. Simply stated, if the customer can't find a product, then he or she will not buy it. The Web is the ultimate customer-empowered environment. He or she who clicks the mouse gets to decide [italics] everything. it is so easy to go elsewhere; all the competitors in the world are but a mouseclick away." The challenge, then, to maximize the "usability" of a Web site for those who are attracted to it. Research data reveal that a substantial majority of those who go on-line visit only ten Web sites 90% of the time. Presumably those who are only one-time visitors had an unsatisfactory experience. Getting them to return may not be impossible but is certainly very, very difficult.
Nielsen explains that "There are essentially two basic approaches to design: the artistic ideal of expressing yourself and the engineering ideal of solving a problem for a customer. This book is firmly on the side of engineering." He correctly realizes that today, this moment, the patience of a Web site visitor is measured in seconds. "This book is full of specific methods that can be used at almost every stage of a web project to dramatically enhance the the user experience." That's true. Nielsen does indeed provide an abundance of information, observations, caveats, and suggestions but all of them presuppose the constant practice of simplicity in both planning and execution of strategies and tactics.
Who else will derive substantial value from this book? Decision-makers in much larger organizations (especially those involved on a global basis) who are hard at work on projects whose success depends directly or indirectly, on the usability of their organization's Web site. Specifically, those who are formulating or revising initiatives to improve CRM, employee recruitment and retention, allocation of resources, logistics, internal and external communications, contingency planning and crisis management, and cycle time reduction. In other words, decision-makers who are determined to maximize usability in literally every area of operations. Yes, this is a book about the Web but the Web, ultimately, is about everything and everyone involved in every organization, regardless of its size and nature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone involved with site design!, July 19 2001
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
Creating Web sites that truly meet the needs and expectations of a wide range of online users is the core question and main topic of the book. It is not a book on how to program in HTML.
The book is packed with annotated examples of actual Web sites, and discussions of Web usability regarding page, content, site, and intranet design.
The book skillfully clarifies for the reader the many subtle challenges that are often mixed together in other discussions. For example, the requirements of viewing pages on varying monitor sizes separately from writing concise text for scanability. The book includes survey results on sizes of screens, types of queries submitted to search portals, response times by connection type.
It goes into detail of cross-platform design, response time considerations, and writing for the Web, multimedia implementation, navigation strategies, search boxes, corporate intranet design, and accessibility for disabled users, international considerations, and future predictions. If you follow the books instructions carefully you will be rewarded with faster Web projects and satisfied Web customers.
A must-read for anyone involved with site design!
FinancialNeeds.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent handbook for those without common sense..., July 14 2001
By 
Raymond Flores "kuya1284" (American Canyon, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
I found this book to be very enlightening due to the fact that Nielsen has been around for quite some time. I did agree with some of his remarks, since most of what he said was common sense, but some I disagreed with. One of the things I disagree with is the fact that people dislike scrolling. I think he developed this mentality prior to the release of the mouse "wheel". I think that most people these days don't really mind scrolling if they have a wheel on their mouse. However, I must agree that it is quite a pain to be without one. Overall, I feel that this book is meant for those people going into Web "Site" Design, and not Web "Page" Design. It is also meant for those who are designing a website with a target audience of 100+ people. If you're making a general information web page, this isn't meant for you. If you are putting together an "information intensive" website, then you should read this book. It addresses many issues dealing with layout (Don't and Do's) and a lot of other things that people tend to overlook.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and Easy to Follow, June 22 2001
By 
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
If you are reading this review, probably you already know the importance of usability for Web sites (or at least notice the usability issues). For learning Web usability, the Web usability guru, Jakob Nielsen, is no doubt the most suitable person to be your teacher. This book will not teach you how to do user testing, but will only show you "WHAT" good Web usability is. It is actually a review of the concepts Jakob brings us in his Web site useit.com, but it is more structural and with more examples. This book is not difficult to read, people with any background can get the book's idea easily. If you are thinking buy this book or not, try to visit his Web site - useit.com first, as you can get some of Jakob's ideas there.
Another famous Web usability book is Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability". That is a thin book (Jakob's book: over 400 pages Vs Steve's book: about 200 pages). Therefore, if you don't need to know everything, Steve's book is better. Otherwise, I suggest Jakob's book.
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Designing Web Usability
Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen (Paperback - Dec 20 1999)
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