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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Non-Designer's Design Book, Second Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Robin Williams
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
This is the best that I've seen....

If you are a professional, this book serves as a great refresher. If you are a novice, you can painlessly learn more from this book than any other that I've seen. In addition, it is a great typography reference. Someone with no previous knowledge can read the book, then immediately apply the principles. I highly recomend it!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Human Factors Design Handbook
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional
Authors: Wesley E. Woodson, Peggy Tillman, Barry Tillman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Good News!

A review of our book stated that the body measurement data came from 1960 Air Force studies. The reviewer should be pleased to know that the book actually contains some of the latest anthropometric data available for the U.S. population. Just before publication of the Human Factors Design Handbook, the U.S. Army completed measurements of nearly 9000 subjects. These data are contained in our book. While this is not a profile of the civilian population (male and female subjects ranged from age 18 to 51), it does provide fairly good estimates. Unfortunately, even now there is no comprehensive survey data for United States civilian population. Currently the Society of Automotive Engineers is coordinating a massive survey of United States and European civilian populations. The project participants include Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and several industrial partners. The survey is called the Civilian American and European Surface Anthropometry Resource, or CAESARTM and data should be available late in 2001.
Just before updating the Human Factors Design Handbook, the author completed development of NASA's Man-Systems Integration Standards. This is the NASA "bible" of human factors design guidelines. Readers should feel confident in that these resources and data (including anthropometrics) were integrated throughout the revised edition of the Human Factors Design Handbook.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Jakob Nielsen
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Designer Sin No More

Jakob Nielsen's Designing Web Usability is a highly readable look at a wide variety of issues affecting usability of web sites. While I didn't agree with every single thing in the book, it does a great job of raising many usability issues that may not come to mind for many designers. In the future, when designing a site, I plan to skim through the book again as a check to make sure I have considered various usability concerns.
One thing I have to say, though, get ready for that pang of panic when Jakob points out various usability issues that may just never have crossed your mind and you think of all the site you've got out there right now that violate his "rules." I admit I don't sleep quite as soundly now that my eyes have been opened to all the evil I've done.
If you are designing web sites for a living, you need this book just as much as you need a book on the rules of grammer and punctuation if you write for a living. You may not follow every rule on every occasion, but you need a good reference to know what the rules should be.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Web Navigation: Designing the User Experience
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jennifer Fleming
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Not what I expected. (Better, though.)

When I first heard (six months ago) that someone was writing an entire book about web site navigation, I have to admit I was pretty jazzed. After all, web navigation is something I spend several hours a day thinking about, and there's almost nothing useful written about it. (I make my living reviewing web site designs to make sure that human beings stand a chance of being able to use them. It's a great job.) I figured this had to be just the book I was looking for: endless discussions of whether sites should be wide or deep, how many items you can fit on a navigation bar without scaring users off, whether JavaScript rollovers help or hurt, and so on. Lots of diagrams and flow charts.
So I have to admit that I was more than a little bummed when it finally arrived: it just wasn't the book I was hoping for. (In the interest of full disclosure, while I was waiting I sought Jennifer out to consult on a particularly thorny project of mine. She was very helpful.) But the good news is it only took a few minutes to get over my disappointment. As soon as I started reading, I realized that what she's written is actually a much more interesting book than the one I had in mind, and one that's valuable to a lot more people. Even though the title is "Web Navigation," the subtitle ("Designing the User Experience") is what it's really about. It explains (and shows by example) how to grapple with a much more important issue than what your navigation looks like--namely: figuring out your users' goals-what they hope to accomplish at your site-and then designing an experience that meets those goals. (Hint: navigation's just a part of it.) And since it's broken down into chapters for different types of sites (like entertainment, shopping, community, and so on), you don't even have to read the whole thing--although you'll probably want to. Buy this book and Information Architecture for the World Wide Web and spend a long weekend reading both of them. You'll know what you need to know.