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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Physician heal thy self!, Feb. 25 2000
By 
Peter A Toukhanian (Huntington Woods, MI) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
First the bad news: This book was obviously not tested for usability. Jakob, you may find this hard to believe but some, perhaps many, people would like to use a highlighter on your book. Did anyone try to highlight a sentence on the left page? There's almost no gutter. It's very difficult. The glossy paper is difficult to read due to the high glare and should have been limited to the screen capture pages. People may scan web pages but they READ books. The numerous asides in garish colors were a constant visual distraction and made reading more difficult. If it's worth printing it should be worth reading. The notes should have been incorporated in the discussion contained in the main text.
Now the good news: Content rules and this book is loaded. Although Nielsen failed to apply his principles to his book he certainly knows what he's talking about. I'll give him the benefit of a doubt and blame some faceless/nameless marketing type at the publisher for insisting on "livening it up with some cool colors and layout".
One word of caution after reading this book you'll become even more impatient with poorly designed web sites. Nielsen's content is so good that it easily compensates for it's minor physical shortcomings. I highly recommend this book to any and every webmaster.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Usability IS your most effective competitive advantage., Feb. 24 2000
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
Jakob Nielsen's latest title will most likely become THE most influential book on web design for the next twelve to eighteen months.
This is a bible for web developers who are serious about business results. After four years of building and rebuilding a major Australian sport site I quickly learnt the importance of usability. Usability IS your number one competitive advantage because users ARE driven by tasks, have little patience and if your site delivers, they will come back again and again and they will spread the word.
Reasons to get this book;
Because you want your customers to come back!
Because you already know usability is the key and need a solid reference based on REAL research.
Because you currently have to KEEP spending big dollars on marketing just to maintain traffic and want to find a way to halve your budget.
Because you want to say NO to that 100% Flash site your colleagues are proposing.
Because you want to crush your competitors with it's knowledge.
Because you want to know WHY your competitor (with that simple site with seemingly no production standards) is crushing you.
Because you can't help but feel that the design team with only six months experience is a LONG way off the game.
Because the money is running out, the investors are getting edgy and you need to start getting some REAL business results soon.
Because you want to build a site you can be proud of.
I have bought umpteen books on Internet design, strategy and marketing - my web site dominates it's market by an order of magnitude and has done so for three years (and I have spent less than $2000 in that time on advertising). Designing Web Usability is the single most valuable volume of information I have come across to date. If you have quality content - all you have to do is make it usable and your site will become a success. Designing a usable web site is no easy task even for those who have been building for years. You know you need this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, Read it, Understand it, but don't treat it as gospel, Feb. 18 2000
By 
Bank Of Clark County "websitedude" (Vancouver, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
Nielsen offers many excellent, authoritative insights into enhancing the usability of websites. Any person designing websites for professional use would definitely benefit from reading this book, though much of what was said could be gained from sites on the net like websitesthatsuck.com. I'd advise listening closely to the general thesis of this book, and not necessarily adhering to all of the specific points. Some of Nielsen's recommendations are a bit extreme (the oft-cited example of link colors). But most of his points are backed by experience and research, and as such are valuable observations which should be heard. Of particular value are his many references to the studies he has performed. Very interesting! The book is also littered with numerous illustrations which help to clarify his points, though his examples do seem to focus more on what doesn't work than what does. And finally, it's amazing to find a book about usability which itself has such a usability flaw. What's up with those big flaps on the inside covers? If they are supposed to be bookmarks, they don't work well. Very annoying. All in all, a good (but not outstanding) book which every web designer should read. You can never get too much education about good website design!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Designer Sin No More, Feb. 17 2000
By 
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
Jakob Nielsen's Designing Web Usability is a highly readable look at a wide variety of issues affecting usability of web sites. While I didn't agree with every single thing in the book, it does a great job of raising many usability issues that may not come to mind for many designers. In the future, when designing a site, I plan to skim through the book again as a check to make sure I have considered various usability concerns.
One thing I have to say, though, get ready for that pang of panic when Jakob points out various usability issues that may just never have crossed your mind and you think of all the site you've got out there right now that violate his "rules." I admit I don't sleep quite as soundly now that my eyes have been opened to all the evil I've done.
If you are designing web sites for a living, you need this book just as much as you need a book on the rules of grammer and punctuation if you write for a living. You may not follow every rule on every occasion, but you need a good reference to know what the rules should be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended reading for any web developer, Feb. 9 2000
By 
Douglas Welzel (Seattle, WA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
This book will quickly give you the information you need to design a web site well. It is part of a two book series with this one focussing on the "how" and the next one on the "why". Sure, Nielsen mentions the results of research and user tests throughout the book, but doesn't dwell on it. This information is just used as supporting evidence for his design points.
It is fair to say that the material in this book is common sense. While you read it, everything Nielsen says makes perfect sense, but look around the web a bit and you'll find many sites that violate these basic principles. Other books make the same points, but I haven't come across any that do it as well as this one -- by backing the points up with research and several examples. If you are looking for one web usability book to buy, this is it.
Some reviews clearly feel the other way, but I think the book itself is a case study in usability. The layout of each page is create and the screenshots are very clear and well captioned.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good but not gospel, Feb. 9 2000
By 
Anthony Boyd (California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
I agree with other reviewers, Jakob does present his ideas as Rules You Must Follow, rather than observations or suggestions. On a few things, he offers no data to back up his assertion, and on a couple things I know he's factually incorrect. I also agree that there are a lot of typos in this book, but only if you're observant.
However, what he does present is just great. I like the writing style. I like the example images. For example, when he says to design for "any" screen size, and then shows you 3 screenshots of Web sites that lock themselves into a certain size, that certainly illuminates how stupid some designers can be.
One other point. Jakob is writing for usability, about how people get information. He pays no attention to marketing issues, such as branding, creating product interest, giving the customer a memorable experience, entertainment, etc. It is fine that he concentrates on other areas, but know before you buy the book that you will have to make up you own mind in those areas (at least). For instance, site reports from the Web site I work on show that any time I throw a DHTML "whiz-bang" widget onto the site, the area it is promoting gets a doubling to a quadrupling of traffic. That flies in the face of his "don't use whiz-bang features" philosophy. But I've learned that his data and my data don't always agree. So take Jakob with a grain of salt.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good buy for most people, from a Usability Engineer, Feb. 1 2000
By 
lnbel (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
One of the best things about this book is that Nielson actually bases his dictums on usability testing. There is NO substitute for user testing when designing, and his data alone makes the information in this book vastly more useful than 95% of the other web design books on the market.
One of the big problems is that sometimes he makes rather crusty assertions without actually testing them. For example, he continuously says to minimize scrolling. But as is evident on his own website, this often happens by letting text stream to the full width of the browser window. Unfortunately, this creates vastly more serious usability problems than narrowing the text column and letting users scroll more. it's easiest for the eye to read text if the angle between the end of one line and the start of the next line is about 13 degrees, which translates into about a 500-pixel wide column of text.
Overall, though, his insistence that designers design for the user, rather than the technology or the Vice President, is crucial. The book is worth a read if you've never read his stuff before. If you're already a heavy user tester, buy one of his more technical books on usability engineering, such as *Usability Inspection Methods*.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Generally good advice, well illustrated, Jan. 26 2000
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
Enough of the reviews here already praise this book for theauthor's qualifications and his good advice, and they're generallyright. It might be useful in addition to note that the book isprofusely illustrated (it had better be, at [the price]). The emphasis on commerce may not appeal to all readers, but Nielsen's recommendations are usually easy to apply to non-commercial projects.
There are some points on which I'd disagree with the author (e.g., I'd say the "tradition" of blue for unvisited links and red for visited ones is not worth preserving), but Nielsen is good at outlining the sometimes conflicting priorities in web design so that readers can have an informed basis for agreeing or disagreeing.
So let's talk about what needs to be fixed for the second edition. Start with the cover. Why is it that the subtitle ("The Practice of Simplicity"), which encapsulates the book's message, appears not on the front or the spine, but only on the back cover? In fact, the only other places it appears are on the inside flap (which also features nearly unreadable text in white reversed out of fluorescent lime green) and the copyright page. A bizarre flaw in an otherwise crisp and readable design.
This is a book whose topic cries out for checklists to refer back to after the argument has been digested. They would be a tremendous asset.
Nielsen has read Edward Tufte's fabulous "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information", but apparently the book designer hasn't: the pie chart on page 314 is needlessly rendered in 3 dimensions, causing slight but noticeable distortion of the data.
Note to the author and New Riders Press: the ethnic slur on page 182 ("Chinese Embassy design") is disgraceful.
Still a good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Elegant!, Jan. 25 2000
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
Jakob Nielsen has created the perfect guidebook for Web usability. Based on a simple premise -- simplicity yields usability -- he has cut to the heart of great web design. He has recognized that, above all else, Web users want things made easy. If it loads quickly, tells you exactly where you are, provides information in highly useable form and doesn't attempt to take advantage of the user and cause them to be disoriented, the design will succeed.
I have purchased copies for everyone on my Web development team. They have all instantly recognized the value of the many guidelines and rules the Nielsen sets out throughout the book. We have already adopted many of these rules as our own. His 1/10th second-1 second-10 second guidline reflects the experience of the everyday user. Since reading that chapter of the book, I rarely wait long once I know I have passed the one second mark and am likely on my way to ten or more.
If you go ten pages without exclaiming' "Ah! ha!', then you are not paying attention. Nielsen has created the "Web Field of Dreams" -- if you build it [with usability and simplicity], they will come [back again and again]."
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent starting point for students of info design, Jan. 25 2000
By 
Rob (Round Lake, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Designing Web Usability (Paperback)
On pages 13 and 14, Jakob writes: "You are probably going to have to buy two books...this book will tell you *what* to do with your site and an implementation book to tell you *how* to put that design on the Net."
I wholeheartedly agree with Jakob's statement here. This book should be read required reading for anyone who saw a "kewl" webpage with lots of "neat" navigation elements and wants to try their hand at website design. There are simply too many badly designed, useless sites out there. We don't need to add any more to the pile.
This book's focus seemed to be toward the news publishing industry and producers of "static" pages in general. The only thing I wish this book covered more was how to design complex web _applications_ (non-static pages) for improved usability.
I've been watching Jakob's columns since 1997 and I have seen many of his predictions about the Web and usability come true. I highly recommend this book to site designers and CEOs alike. Users of their websites will be the ones to benefit.
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Designing Web Usability
Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen (Paperback - Dec 20 1999)
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