Chris Peters's Blog

Book Review: Designing Web Usability

May 5, 2006

Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen

I’ve finally finished reading another staple piece of literature in our field of web design. Although slightly outdated, Jakob Nielsen’s Designing Web Usability is a must read. Seriously, go get it. It’s your responsibility as a web designer to know this information.

This book begins your journey down the path of designing web sites and web applications with usability in mind. Nielsen addresses issues like writing web content, page design, and useful tips on designing for Intranets, accessibility, and internationalization. The book doesn’t cover how to conduct usability studies, but it instead lists the “universal truths” of usable design that Nielsen’s user studies have uncovered over the years.

The introduction to this book takes me back to my early days in high school when I started toying around with web pages. Nielsen recommends reading this book before learning anything about HTML, and I wish I would have. It’s easy to learn how to code a scrolling marquee in HTML, but learning the HTML doesn’t teach you that scrolling marquees rarely have good uses on the Web.

Even though the sample interfaces in the book are really outdated, they still get the point across. I still see web sites that break the sames rules that Nielsen presented when he wrote this book back in 2000.

I look forward to re-reading the chapters on accessibility and Intranets so I can apply some of this knowledge.

Written by Chris Peters, your friendly neighborhood digital marketing professional with over 20 years of experience of web design, programming, SEO, and marketing.