A Web site design that does not consider its user is a Web site that is destined to be a disappointing experience for the user. This new book by Jonathan Lazar provides readers with the concepts and tools needed to develop Web sites that maximize the user experience. It takes readers through the entire User-Centered Development Life Cycle, demonstrating practical skills and techniques that will help them for years to come.
The User-Centered Development Life Cycle:
The User-Centered Development Life Cycle ensures that the needs of a Web site's users are the focus of the Web site's design, from its inception through its implementation and management. Keeping this focus–while collecting requirements, designing pages, and performing usability testing—results in a more effective design and more satisfied users.
Real-world applications are highlighted in four Case Studies, which demonstrate how both commercial and noncommercial organizations designed user-centered Web sites:
kodak.com (Eastman Kodak)
PlayFootball.com (National Football League site for children)
Review By: Alan Madick 07/08/2010Far too often, we stumble upon Web sites that are rich in content but severely lacking in ease of navigation. The thousands of hours of work that may have gone into putting content into these sites may go unnoticed because the developers did not take a user-centered approach to the design. To all developers guilty of such “cyber crimes,” I present Jonathan Lazar’s Web Usability: A User-Centered Design Approach.
I found this book to be very pragmatic and to offer solid advice on how to design new Web sites. The chapters are organized effectively, moving through the system development lifecycle from idea to implementation and marketing. At the end of each chapter is a consistent wrap up—summary of content, list of discussion questions to consider, and a design exercise to reinforce what you've learned—and some suggested reading, in case you take a particular interest in the subject matter.
What is particularly important is the book’s emphasis on knowing your audience before you begin designing your site. Granted, as Lazar deftly points out, this task can be anything from simple (e.g., if you're designing an informational site for your local church) to almost impossible (e.g., if you're designing a site to market products intended for a worldwide audience). However, the more consideration you can give to this design aspect, the more chance you have to launch a successful site.
Finally, a bonus gift is provided to those poor, unfortunate souls who have already invested thousands of hours in Web site design only to find out that what used to be good enough no longer makes the grade. In an era where reuse and recycle are more than buzzwords, the book’s practical advice on redesigning existing sites is much appreciated and timely indeed!
In the world of testing, it is very easy to get consumed by the notion that a good Web site is one that is free of obvious defects. After all, nothing is worse than knowing that your users may click on a button, only to be the recipient of an error that only Bill Gates could make any sense of.
While I agree that this is important and much care must be taken to ensure this behavior, this book makes the compelling argument that Web designers should be taking equal care to ensure that the site is easy to navigate and contains content that will be relevant to the person using it. As frustrating as it is to stare down the barrel of an error, it is equally frustrating to travel down a Web site, only to find that you have no idea where you are and, worse yet, have no idea how to get to where you want to be! "Web Usability" provides solid advice on making your site easy and perhaps even fun to navigate. By providing real-life examples of what to look for and how to look for it, this book also rates high marks for relevance to not only software designers but also those who are charged with the responsibility to testing and ensuring site quality.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has any part in the mission to design a world-class Web site. I think you'll refer to it time and time again, and the world will become a better place knowing that the online computing experience is making a drastic turn for the good!