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am 26. Februar 2000
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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am 24. Juli 2000
Usability studies are your friend.
I'm somewhat of anoldtimer in web years. I've been building sites & online appfrontends for 5 years now (at the same e-commerce company... gasp!) and I think I've absorbed more from Jakob Neilsen that any other computer/internet author.
When I first started following Neilsen on his site...a few years ago, I was a bit wary. I wanted to protect my design, as most would, and I can tell you now... incorporating his material, learning from it, will only make your site that much better. It also arms you with the facts behind proper usability design, which can be a great thing when it comes time to defend your work to the Execusphere.
Buy it, read it, breathe it.
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am 24. Februar 2000
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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am 4. Juni 2000
This latest endeavor of one of the more renowned authorities in usability design strives to give a complete account of what is involved in the design of a successful web-site. While Nielsen uses many real-life examples to illustrate his points, I find more than a few of his assertions a little suspect. In some situations, he over-simplifies and describes the outcome of the problem in terms of "black and white", not allowing for any shades of gray. Whether Nielsen is successful in getting his points across is questionable due to this binary approach. However, he does bring up a lot of timely issues for designing on the web such as response times and overly flashy graphics.
The tone of the book is definitely overbearing and opinionative, nevertheless, his style of writing does make the book very readable. If you need to know the basics of designing interfaces for the web, this book will serve as a good reference. My suggestion is that you take his words with a grain of salt and not worry too much if you have to break one or two of his cherished "top-ten" rules of interface design.
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am 18. April 2000
Writers often manipulate science to sell articles or books. This book is full of "Truths" that are completely unsubstantiated. Only a bit into the book, the whole cloth pronouncements on what "they" (the user) want and find useful come fast and furious. Where are the references? Even an anecdote? Nielsen left out any research to hide complicated conclusions.
Nielsen is considered by many in the business to be an expert on web usability, but the book has exchanged any good science for gushing cliches and maxims. Simply no credibility, unusable by mature professionals. Perhaps the book is meant for hobbyists? I did not get that impression from the presentation.
This book is written to make money, not to get at the truth. This book is about Nielsen, not web usability.
I suppose the scientific shortcuts work well for the publisher, but this is not a serious effort.
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am 18. Januar 2000
Jakob Nielsen has done it again! His new book is a true masterpiece.
Every section demonstrates how management on the strategic level as well as public relations professionals, designers and marketers can all be inspired to think or re-think their entire e-business approach.
Full of experience and wisdom, not to mention the vast amount of illustrative examples that accompany Dr. Nielsen's guided tour through dos and don'ts in the world of web design and usability.
By the way, due to it's super logical structure, the book is also an excellent handbook to return to for pieces of good advice at later stages. And believe it or not, even as bedtime reading Jakob Nielsen's book is in a class by itself...
My conclusion: A must for management and a gold mine for everybody else seeking to improve the presence and the results of their organization on the net.
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am 25. März 2000
The problem with a 'common sense' approach to usability is twofold:
1)The design suggestions are solely the author's subjective opinions and have little empirical data to back them up.
2)The suggestions that are well established enough to indeed be 'common sense' are common knowledge as well. It's not really news to anyone that a Web page should be visually simple, rather than visually complex.
In short, if you have any background in the field at all, you'll mistrust many of the guidelines and already know the rest.
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am 27. Juni 2000
This is an excellent book that I would recommend for anyone involved with development of web content. This includes not only the technical person laying out the actual web page, but the managers responsible for certain segments (e.g., tech support for your company), and all the way up to a CEO who wants the company web site to be an integral part of the business.
The book covers issues about how to design an individual page. The importance of color choices for anchors, screen real estate, older browsers, and slow connections. To backup his positions, the author constantly cites studies and includes statistical information.
The author then steps back from the individual page and looks at an entire site. He touches on consistency, metaphors, and navigation. Oh.. and *content* There is no substitute.
The author also has chapters on a wide range of other issues such as designing specifically for internal Intranet use, international considerations, and the future of the web (i.e., the computer with its crisp 17" monitor may not be the primary device for accessing the web).
I only had two problems with this book. First, I came away with a wealth of ideas, but I did not of the knowledge to implement them. This book needs a companion book describing the "how to".
Second, I hated the binding and to a lesser extent the basic layout. I found this moderately amusing for a book about "usability".
If you are involved at any level with web development, this book should be on your shelf... *after* you have read it.
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am 14. Juni 2000
Nielson's book offers a straightforward and intelligent presentation of web design with a keen awareness of the big picture and what actually happens when users visit a web site. All times the practice of simplicity and ease of use are emphasized in page design, navigation, content and overall web site development.
The book is heavy (literally!) with high quality color printing featuring hundreds of web sites to illustrate each of the points discussed. This could be regarded as a serious textbook that takes a deeper cut into the art and science of effective web site design than the more amusing (and also valuable) reads such as "Web Pages that Suck."
Nielson addresses such issues as users with disabilities, the global nature of the web and the implications of multilingual sites, the use of metaphors, and the numerous other issues including download times, URL design, graphics, streaming video vs. downloadable video, site structure, color and text design, and so on. The book really "gets into it" and does not shy away from the nitty, gritty details, using its large quantity of illustrations to fully address each point. While it comes across as heavy handed on some occasions ("Do it this way") where an experienced web designer may see alternatives, this detail provides a great introduction for those new to web design.
This one text effectively captures the most significant topics associated with designing effective web sites that will accomplish the task at hand. Reading it will put the overly zealous gif animators and latest plug-in proponents in touch with the world of the average user. Given some of the hideous web sites I've seen even from Fortune 500 companies with large web development budgets, Nielson's book is a voice of reason and intelligence in an area where hype and flash can cause people to lose sight of their objectives.
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am 3. Juni 2000
Anyone who wants to design more than 5 web pages should be required to outline the major points in Jakob Nielsen's Designing Web Usability. Anyone who is hiring someone to design a web site should read this book first. Anyone who uses the internet as a regular source of information will tend to scream "YES" when Nielsen points out examples of bad web design.
Jakob Nielsen's book describes a way of thinking about the World Wide Web. It is not a how-to book tied to a particular software package. He simply wants the internet to be a useful place where communication takes place. He talks about what a web page should be like rather than focusing on the HTML required to create it. He illustrates his ideas with many examples of sites that work and ones that don't. As a result, it is one of those rare computer books that will still be useful 5 years from now.
Much of the information in the book seems obvious. After all, isn't communication the goal of a web page? Yet I would guess that after reading a chapter of Nilsen's book, you could identify significant design problems in the majority of web sites. Read all of the chapters and you'll begin to understand what it takes to create powerful web sites.
Dale Fast fast@sxu.edu
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