Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed Paperback – Nov 5 2001
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Most authors leave a significant gap between the theory and practice--a gap that it is left up to the reader to fill. Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed boldly steps into that gap with specific observations and suggestions backed with solid quantitative analysis. This book focuses only on homepage design as the most important point of presence for any Web site.
This definitive work is co-authored by Jakob Nielsen--the accepted industry expert in Web usability--and Marie Tahir, an expert in user profiling. Their collaboration has produced a guide of such rare practical benefit that Web designers will likely wear out their first copy scouring the pages to savour every last morsel of wisdom.
The book begins with a chapter of precise guidelines that serve as a checklist of the features and functionality to include on your homepage. The specifics found in categories such as "revealing content through examples" and "graphic design" will quickly hook you and whet your appetite for more. These guidelines are followed up with hard statistics and an examination of the ominous Jakob's Law: "users spend most of their time on other sites than your site." Here you'll find some interesting statistics about how various conventions like search, privacy policies, and logos are used.
All this leads up to the showcase element of the book--a systematic deconstruction of 50 of the most popular homepages on the Web. The authors painstakingly pick apart each in an uncompromising autopsy of usability. Each site is graphically analysed for its use of real estate and summarised with the frankness only found from true experts. Then each section of the homepage is bulleted and analysed for potential improvements.
It's a bold move to offer a critique of industry standard Web sites such as Yahoo, CNet and ebay but the authors have done such a fine job that the designers of those sites will surely make reading this book a high priority. For the rest of us, this work will serve as an invaluable gospel. --Stephen W Plain
From Library Journal
Nielsen, dogmatic don of web usability, and his strategy director Tahir believe that a company needs a well-designed homepage to succeed online. They provide 113 brief usability guidelines that lead into a chapter on homepage statistics, giving readers an idea of conventions to follow or break. The homepages of 50 major web sites, from About.com to Yahoo.com, are then pictured and critiqued in terms of those recommendations and statistics. A useful resource for both novice and professional web designers; recommended for all libraries.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
upper-right corner are more generic locations for search widgets and "help" links
Navigation of the site is best usable either as a tab-style (such as in amazon.com) or as a column on left side of the page (such as in CNN.com)
Links should be blue-underlined, and visited links should be purple-underlined
footer navigation links should be only for "foot-note-related" content and should be limited to no more than 7 links
on and on it goes
So how do authors derive these conclusions? The process is actually very interesting. They conduct studies of top 50 chosen web sites and group their findings into conventions.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Beautiful book, almost suitable for coffee table. Looks great (quality paper, page layouts and screen images). The book is easy to use. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2008 by Marc Poulin
The tips at the beginning were great. But 50 homepages, was definitely overkill. The oversized format suits ths subject matter. Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2006 by Reviewer
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... Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by Michael Lugassy
This book is a definite MUST HAVE for any website designer, newbie to web design and anyone and everyone who has an online business. Read morePublished on June 22 2004
For you who wants to find FACTS and not only theories about usability, this is great!Published on May 4 2004 by Monika
In his first book, "Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity", published two years earlier (December 1999), Jakob Nielsen presented a comprehensive stylebook for... Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2004 by Marcus Abundus
First off, this is weird critiquing a critique book. ;-)
At the beginning of Homepage Usability is a big list of informative guidelines for creating a a useable homepage and... Read more
Tightly focused on homepage usability, hence the title. 113 usability success elements are presented, and 50 popular websites are evaluated based on the success elements. Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2003 by Shaun W. Taylor
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