Document (#32342)

Author
Lazar, J.
Title
Web usability : a user-centered design approach
Imprint
Boston : Pearson, Addison Wesley
Year
2006
Pages
XXI, 394 S
Isbn
0-321-32135-9
Content
Introduction to Web usability -- Defining the mission and target user population -- Requirements gathering: what information is needed? -- Methods for requirements gathering -- Information architecture and site navigation -- Page design -- Designing for universal usability -- Physical design -- Usability testing -- Implementation and marketing -- Maintaining and evaluating Web sites
Footnote
Rez. in: JASIST 58(2007) no.7, S.1066-1067 (X. Zhu u. J. Liao): "The user, without whom any product or service would be nothing, plays a very important role during the whole life cycle of products or services. The user's involvement should be from the very beginning, not just after products or services are ready to work. According to ISO 9241-11: 1998, Part 11, Usability refers to "the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of user." As an academic topic of human-computer interaction, Web usability has been studied widely for a long time. This classroom-oriented book, bridging academia and the educational community, talks about Web usability in a student-friendly fashion. It outlines not only the methodology of user-centered Web site design but also details the methods to implement at every stage of the methodology. That is, the book presents the user-centered Web-design approach from both macrocosm and microcosm points of view, which makes it both recapitulative and practical. The most important key word in Web Usability is "user-centered," which means Web developers should not substitute their own personal preferences for the users' needs. The book classifies Web sites into five types: E-commerce, informational, entertainment, community, and intranet. Since the methods used during Web development differ somewhat depending on the type of Web site, it is necessary to have a classification in advance. With Figure 1.3 on p. 17, the book explains the whole user-centered Webdevelopment life cycle (called "methodology" in this book review), which provides a clear path for Web development that is easy to understand, remember, and perform. Since all the following chapters are based on the methodology, a clear presentation of it is paramount. The table on p. 93 summarizes concisely all types of methods for requirements gathering and their advantages and disadvantages. According to this table, appropriate methods can be easily chosen for different Web site development projects. As the author remarked, "requirements gathering is central to the concept of user-centered design," (p. 98) and "one of the hallmarks of user-centered design is usability testing" (p. 205). Stage 2 (collect user requirements) and Stage 5 (perform usability testing) of the user-centered Web-development life cycle are the two stages with the most user involvement: however, this does not mean that all other stages are user unrelated. For example, in Stage 4 (create and modify physical design), frame is not suggested to be used just because most users are unfamiliar with the concept of frame (p. 201). Note that frequently there are several rounds of usability testing to be performed in the four case studies, and some of them are performed before the physical-design stage or even the conceptual-design stage, which embodies the idea of an iterative design process.
The many hands-on examples throughout the book and the four case studies at the end of the book are obvious strong points linking theory with practice. The four case studies are very useful, and it is hard to find such cases in the literature since few companies want to publicize such information. The four case studies are not just simple repeats; they are very different from each other and provide readers specific examples to analyze and follow. Web Usability is an excellent textbook, with a wrap-up (including discussion questions, design exercises, and suggested reading) at the end of each chapter. Each wrap-up first outlines where the focus should be placed, corresponding to what was presented at the very beginning of each chapter. Discussion questions help recall in an active way the main points in each chapter. The design exercises make readers apply to a design project what they have just obtained from the chapter, leading to a deeper understanding of knowledge. Suggested reading provides additional information sources for people who want to further study the research topic, which bridges the educational community back to academia. The book is enhanced by two universal resource locators (URLs) linking to the Addison-Wesley instructor resource center (http://www. aw.com/irc) and the Web-Star survey and project deliverables (http:// www. aw.com/cssupport), respectively. There are valuable resources in these two URLs, which can be used together with Web Usability. Like the Web, books are required to possess good information architecture to facilitate understanding. Fortunately, Web Usability has very clear information architecture. Chap. 1 introduces the user-centered Web-development life cycle, which is composed of seven stages. Chap. 2 discusses Stage l, chaps. 3 and 4 detail Stage 2, chaps. 5 through 7 outline Stage 3, and chaps. 8 through I1 present Stages 4 through 7, respectively. In chaps. 2 through 11, details (called "methods" in this review) are given for every stage of the methodology. The main clue of the book is how to design a new Web site; however, this does not mean that Web redesign is trivial and ignored. The author mentions Web redesign issues from time to time, and a dedicated section is presented to discuss redesign in chaps. 2, 3, 10, and 11.
Besides the major well-known software applications such as FrontPage and Dreamweaver (pp. 191-194), many useful software tools can be adopted to assist and accelerate the Web-development process, resulting in improvement of the productivity of the Web industry. Web Usability mentions such tools as the "code validator" (p. 189) to identify problematic areas of the handwritten code against spelling and usage, the tool available at a given URL address to convert portable document format (PDF) files into hypertext markup language (HTML) files (p. 201), WEBXACT, WebSAT, A-Prompt, Dottie, InFocus, and RAMP (pp. 226-227) to automate usability testing, and ClickTracks, NetTracker, WebTrends, and Spotfire (p. 263) to summarize Web-usage data and analyze the trends. Thus, Web developers are able to find these tools and benefit from them. Other strengths of the book include the layout of each page, which has a wide margin in which readers may easily place notes, and the fact that the book is easy to read and understand. Although there are many strengths in this book, a few weaknesses are evident. All chapter wrap-ups should have an identical layout. Without numbering for sections and subsections, it is very likely that readers will lose sense of where they are in the overall information architecture of the book. At present, the only solution is to frequently refer to the table of contents to confirm the location. The hands-on example on p. 39 would be better placed in chap. 4 because it focuses on a requirements gathering method, the interview. There are two similar phrases, namely "user population" and "user group," that are used widely in this book. User population is composed of user groups; however, they are not strictly used in this book. The section title "Using a Search Engine" (p. 244) should be on the same level as that of the section "Linking to a URL," and not as that of the section entitled "Marketing: Bringing Users to Your Web Site," according to what the author argued at the top of p. 236.
Web Usability is undoubtedly a success. After reading this book, Web designers will pay attention to both the content and the usability; otherwise, the majority might overlook the usability. Although this book mainly focuses on students and instructors, it also is appropriate for those who want to develop a user-centered Web site but do not know how. We would suggest that an initial reading is necessary to know what is included under each section title; from then on, when the methodology and methods are applied to guide a real-world project, only the table of contents and the chapter wrap-ups need to be reread, and other parts only when important details are forgotten. With the help of so many examples and strongly viable methods, Web Usability explains almost everything necessary during user-centered Web development and provides tips to help avoid some common mistakes. All of these characteristics facilitate effective and efficient Web-development processes. Similarly, the book reaches its content goal and usability goal as well. In short, Web Usability is an excellent case for book usability: a user-centered edit approach!"
Theme
Internet
LCSH
Web sites / Design
User interfaces (Computer systems)
RSWK
Web-Seite / Gestaltung / Benutzerorientierung / Benutzerfreundlichkeit / Kundenorientierung
BK
05.38 Neue elektronische Medien <Kommunikationswissenschaft>
54.65 Webentwicklung
DDC
006.7019
LCC
TK5105.888

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