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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 2. Februar 2000
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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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 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. 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 18. Februar 2000
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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am 25. April 2000
Rarely do I deface a book by underlining phrases and scribbling comments in the margins. When I do it means that this is a no longer just a reference book but a working tool, a work which will always sit within arms reach of the keyboard.
I squirmed when reading this. Perhaps it was that I successfully convinced others to implement frames on a site or that users who come from search engines deep into one of my sites are in grave danger of getting lost. This book exposes your mistakes. It does this with great clarity of writing and ample use of screen shots.
However I found some things annoying:
* The author repeats himself. In later chapters when we should be building on the early arguments we get a regurgitation of earlier advice and the book runs out of steam. Perhaps this repitition is deemed necessary for people who are delving straight into particularly chapters. * While there is a chapter specifically called International Use the author at times uses very US specific imagery. Should we in Australia be expected to know of Tom Brokaw (p149)? Also the stats on web connections speeds and their future projections seemed to be for the US only - although this is not specifically stated. * Almost the whole of the discussion about usability is limited to HTML and Cascading Style Sheets. I would have appreciated consideration of Javascripts as well as Flash - which is completely ignored.
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am 10. Februar 2000
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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